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There are three things we know for sure regarding the coronavirus:
We know that, as of now, there’s no cure for COVID-19 infection. The best defense we’ve got is to get everyone vaccinated and practicing preventive measures.
Hand washing. Social distancing. Cleaning.
We also know that the coronavirus enters the body through the nose, and attacks the respiratory system first, before moving on to other systems in the body, especially wreaking havoc with the circulatory system and leading to blood clots.
And third, we know that proper nutrition can help boost the immune system and make it better able to fend off pathogens.
There’s been plenty of messaging from doctors and health agencies about preventive measures, and we’ve been well informed about how the virus operates, at least to the extent that science knows now.
But what about nutrition? Because we may not have access to approved vaccines for several months, it’s one avenue of prevention we can’t ignore.
How often have you heard a health official talk about eating well and taking supplements as a defense against getting sick, with COVID-19, or with other respiratory illnesses that make you an open target for the virus?
In the beginning of the pandemic, not much. But that’s changed…
An international team of physician-researchers is calling for just this sort of messaging…
Doctors should be prescribing better nutrition
“Around the world, acute respiratory tract infections kill more than 2.5 million people every year,” says Adrian Gombart, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at Oregon State University’s College of Science and a principal investigator at the Linus Pauling Institute.
“Meanwhile, there’s a wealth of data that shows the role that good nutrition plays in supporting the immune system. As a society, we need to be doing a better job of getting that message across along with the other important, more common messages.”
A recently published paper by Dr. Gombart and colleagues in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the Netherlands, asserts that public health officials should issue a clear set of nutritional recommendations, just as they’ve issued statements on the role of handwashing and vaccinations in preventing the spread of infections in general.
More specifically, they’re recommending four specific vitamins and minerals they say have key jobs in supporting your immune system.
Vitamins and minerals that support immunity
Vitamin C. At least 200 mg/day of Vitamin C is what Dr. Gombart and his team recommend.
The role of Vitamin C in immune function is well-known. It helps immune cells grow, and plays an important role in antibody production.
And, it’s water-soluble, meaning that anything your body doesn’t need is simply excreted in the urine.
Vitamin D. There’s evidence that Vitamin D regulates your immune system in two ways: it helps make immune cells including T-cells and macrophages, and it helps determine when your body should activate these cells as part of an immune response.
Studies also show that Vitamin D can reduce the risk of developing a respiratory infection. In one study, it cut that risk nearly in half!
Based on their research, Dr. Gombart and his colleagues recommend supplementing with 2000 international units (IUs) of Vitamin D daily.
Zinc. Most people know that taking zinc at the first sign of a cold can slow its progress.
Zinc has also been proven to have antiviral properties. And Dr. Gombart includes zinc on his shortlist of supplements that doctors and health officials should be recommending to support a healthy immune system.
DHA. Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, is an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish, fish oil, or my preference, krill oil.
A 2013 study found that DHA not only prevents disease by reducing inflammation. It also improves the function of B cells, immune cells that produce antibodies, and that store the “memory” of a particular antigen once the immune system has responded to it.
Of course, all of these vitamins and minerals are available by eating a healthy, balanced diet.
- Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, red peppers, strawberries and tomatoes.
- Vitamin D is found in beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, milk and yogurt.
- Salmon is the perfect food for building immunity since it has both DHA and Vitamin D.
- And zinc can be added to your diet with mussels, legumes nuts, whole grains and eggs.
Again, a balanced diet free of processed foods is the winner here.
- Dietary supplements an important weapon for fighting off COVID-19 — Advancement of Science (AAAS)
- Nutritional strategies to support your immune system — Oregon State University
- Optimal Nutritional Status for a Well-Functioning Immune System Is an Important Factor to Protect against Viral Infections — MDPI
- https://www.nutraingredients.com/Article/2013/04/02/Omega-3-backed-to-boost-immune-health-not-just-battle-inflammation — NutraIngredients.com