by Raychel Agramon, RN, MPM, April 24, 2020
Supplements to boost immune system during Coronavirus disease 2019, notoriously known as Covid-19, is a viral strain that brings about fever, runny nose, and cough, among many other symptoms. It has affected a little over 1 million people and has claimed the lives of more than 50,000 individuals. While it can be mild or moderate for most, it can be deadly for older adults, and those with heart, lung, and immunity problems.
Because it is more fatal in sick persons, experts recommend the general population – even the young and healthy ones – to further boost their immune systems. After all, it’s the body’s first line of defense against infections.
With that being said, your immunity depends on a lot of things, and one of them is proper nutrition. Intake of certain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients can enhance your immune system – so you can protect yourself better from Covid-19 and other infections.
Here are some supplements that you’ll benefit from in this pandemic:
When it comes to immunity, nothing beats the fame of Vitamin C. Also known as Ascorbic Acid, it is an antioxidant that is vital for the body’s immune defense.
With enough Vitamin C in your system, you can have improved defense against bacteria, viruses, and other infectious microbes. It does so by enhancing the functions of phagocytes and neutrophils, cells that kill germs in the body. With these actions, Vitamin C increases your chances of warding off infections.
This comes in particularly handy in the time of Covid-19, as a study has shown that Vitamin C may be able to prevent respiratory infections.
To get your daily dose of Vitamin C, you need to eat citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, grapefruits, kiwis, and guavas, to name a few. You can also take a supplement to get the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men. Recent discussions of healthcare professionals in the frontline of Covid-19 suggest a much higher dosage that the daily allowance typically suggested.
First isolated in rats, zinc has become one of the most important supplements, especially with regards to immunity.
Zinc is vital for the immune system because it improves the function of cells that respond to harmful germs in the body. Additionally, it is an antioxidant that can prevent cell damage caused by inflammation.
Zinc impacts the immune system so much so that those deficient in zinc have a high risk of dying from infections. With that being said, it’s important to take a supplement containing at least 8 mg zinc for women, and 11 mg for men. You can also get this RDA by eating foods such as dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes, meat, and shellfish.
Ever since the early days, doctors have already recognized Vitamin D’s impact on one’s immunity. Before the advent of antibiotics, Vitamin D was already used to treat infections such as tuberculosis.
How Vitamin D boosts immunity was further clarified in a study. Results showed that individuals with low levels of Vitamin D reported higher incidences of respiratory infection.
With that being said, Vitamin D supplementation of 600 IU per day might be particularly useful in this time of Covid-19. Add to that, it is best to eat rich food sources such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, beef liver, egg yolks, and cheese.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that bring about many benefits to the body. Apart from improving your gut health and making your skin glow, probiotics may help boost your immunity as well. After all, these microbes can regulate the immune cells in the gut.
Additionally, research has also shown that probiotics may hold the potential against viral infections. With that being said, it is best to take probiotic supplements or take benefits of fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, and miso.
Supplements to boost immune system straight from the olive plant, the olive leaf extract has the potential to lower your blood pressure – and cholesterol levels as well. Additionally, an Italian study has shown that it may improve your immunity by increasing your body’s CD8 and Natural Killer Cells. Both of these play huge roles in protecting the body against infections.
While there is no official RDA for olive leaf extract, the standard dose is 500 mg to 1000 mg daily. This immune-boosting supplement is available in the form of capsules, tablets, or tea.
Curcumin, the main ingredient in Turmeric, is lauded for its anti-cancer properties. It can do so improving the immune system – something that a lot of people can benefit from in this Covid-19 outbreak.
Curcumin enhances one's immunity by restoring the number of CD4 cells, which help regulate the body's immune processes. It can also boost the count of CD8 cells, organisms that kill cells infected with viruses or bacteria.
The typical dose for Curcumin ranges from 500 to 2,000 mg a day.
Curcumin can be obtained by eating turmeric-spiced foods, even energy drinks. It is also available in supplement form (capsules and tablets).
Panax ginseng is an oriental medicinal herb used for high blood pressure, cancer, and other neurodegenerative diseases. Truly beneficial, it may hold the key against infections as well. According to a Journal of Ginseng Research study, this man-root can ‘break’ the connection between the cell and the bacteria, thereby preventing the start (or worsening) of infection.
The appropriate dosage for Korean ginseng, which comes in capsules, powders or oils, varies. However, you may try taking 200mg to 1000mg daily, as this is the usual dose for the ‘similar’ respiratory condition that is flu.
Ashwagandha is a plant whose roots and berries are used in ayurvedic medicine. It is widely popular in herbalists as it may help resolve several diseases, including cancer and diabetes. According to some studies, it may help in the management of anxiety and depression as well.
Research also suggests that it may improve cell-mediated immunity, a process that can help the body fight disease. As for dosing, traditional healers recommend taking a capsule containing 500-600 mg of Ashwagandha daily.
Black Elderberry gets its name from its dark-colored berries. It has long been used since ancient times – the Egyptians have used it to heal burns while the Native Americans have used it to treat infections.
These feats notwithstanding, black elderberry may be the ideal supplement against Covid-19. That’s because it is used in reducing the severity and duration of colds and flu. It also demonstrates some anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, according to a study by Washington-based researchers.
Black Elderberry foods range from jams, chutneys, to juices and wines. It also comes in syrup and lozenges.
The ideal dose for supplementation is 175 mg daily.
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