Since the start of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, there has been an increase in demand for nutritional supplementation due to concerns about immunity and boosting the immune system. Supplementing your diet with vitamins C and D, zinc, quercetin, and melatonin can help ward off infection by regulating your immune system. Elderly patients are more susceptible to the negative effects of COVID-19 and need to consume adequate amounts of these nutrients. COVID-19 infection may require increased supplementation of certain nutrients, but care should be taken to avoid toxicity. More clinical trials should be done to see if nutritional supplements could be a treatment for COVID-19 that is easy to get and not too expensive.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, people have been more interested in boosting their immunity, which has led to an increase in demand for nutritional supplements. The way someone’s body is nourished (their nutritional status) and whether or not they take supplements are important factors in predicting how well they will recover from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. These factors can also affect how severe the symptoms are. Elderly patients are more vulnerable to the illness and mortality associated with COVID-19, so it’s especially important that they get enough of these nutrients.
Studies have found that certain nutritional supplements may help to decrease your risk of infection, as well as the severity of your symptoms if you do become ill. The purpose of this blog is to provide scientifically-backed supplement recommendations that can help support your immune system. It is always advisable to seek medical advice before taking any nutritional supplements. Do not take our recommendations if you have a medical condition or are taking any medications without consulting a doctor first.
Nutritional Supplementation for Managing COVID-19
What you eat has a big impact on how your body functions. The following sections discuss the properties of vitamins D and C, quercetin, zinc, and melatonin with regard to COVID-19.
Vitamin D is found in foods such as fish, milk, red meat, and eggs. It helps with things like immunity, regulating blood sugar and heart health, and the lungs and airways. Vitamin D specifically protects the lungs and airways by helping to create the antimicrobial peptide cathelicidin. This peptide has both antibacterial and antiviral properties. Cathelicidin helps bring in monocytes, neutrophils, and T cells, which then helps get rid of respiratory pathogens. Vitamin D administration may help people with COVID-19 recover or have a less severe disease.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is found in a variety of foods, including citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, and bell peppers. It protects the skin’s barrier function against infections and enhances the skin’s ability to scavenge oxidants, potentially protecting against oxidative stress caused by the environment. Vitamin C may help protect against viruses by boosting the activity of cells that fight infection, increasing the production of interferon (a protein that helps regulate the immune system), reducing inflammation, improving the function of blood vessels, and restoring mitochondrial function. It has been suggested that vitamin C may help to reduce the severity of a cytokine storm, a life-threatening systemic inflammatory syndrome that can occur in patients with advanced COVID-19 infection.
Quercetin is a natural plant flavonoid found in a variety of vegetables, seeds, grains, tea, and wine. It is known to have a range of health benefits, including reducing inflammation, allergies, and asthma symptoms. Some of its noteworthy properties are its ability to serve as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, regulate the immune system, and prevent blood clotting. Quercetin may help to prevent SARS-CoV-2 from entering and replicating in lung cells by acting as a powerful NRF2 agonist. The NRF2 protein helps to regulate antioxidant proteins that provide protection against oxidative damage that is caused by inflammation. Quercetin also inhibits pathways that lead to inflammation, such as those activated by nuclear factor kappa light chain enhancer of activated B cells, inflammasomes, and interleukin-6 signals. The release of cytokines as a result of these pathways leads to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which is often fatal. ARDS is a condition in which there is fluid buildup in the lungs and low blood oxygen, and can occur in COVID-19. Quercetin also regulates thrombus-formation abnormalities by inhibiting plasma protein disulfide isomerase, which is secreted by platelets and endothelial cells. Quercetin’s ability to fight oxidative stress, inflammation, and bolster the immune system makes it a good tool for preventing and managing COVID-19.
Zinc is an important mineral that helps your body fight both common and rare viruses. This nutrient can be found in animal sources such as meat and shellfish, as well as plant sources such as legumes and nuts. Zinc is important for various cell types that contribute to immunity, including neutrophils, natural killer cells, and T cells. Zinc is involved in processes like granulocyte recruitment, chemotactic activity, phagocytosis, and the formation of oxidative bursts. Zinc has been shown to prevent coronaviruses from replicating and multiplying. A deficiency in zinc results in an increase of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which can lead to lung tissue remodeling. This can be offset by taking zinc supplements. Zinc has an effect on cell-barrier function in lung epithelial tissues by increasing the levels of interferon-gamma, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and Fas receptor signaling. It also promotes apoptosis in vitro. The benefits and therapeutic effects of the drug are due to its ability to interact with viral replication and protein synthesis.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring tryptophan derivative that helps improve sleep and lessen anxiety, both of which benefit the immune system. You can get melatonin from foods like tart cherries, goji berries, warm milk, eggs, fish, and nuts. Melatonin is a potent antioxidant and immune regulator. It protects cells from oxidative damage by scavenging hydroxyl radicals and stimulating antioxidative enzymes such as glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase. It has been proposed that it could be a potential treatment for COVID-19 symptoms. Melatonin can help reduce lung inflammation and the risk of pulmonary fibrosis for people with COVID-19.
Taking vitamins D and C, zinc, quercetin, and melatonin may help to protect against viruses, may improve the immune system, and may stop the virus from spreading. A well-functioning immune system needs these nutrients, which you can usually get through a balanced diet. In other words, we need to do more research to figure out if nutritional supplements can help treat COVID-19. A patient’s nutrient levels must be sufficient to lower symptoms and shorten the duration of respiratory infection during COVID-19 infection.
Increasing the amount of vitamins D and C that you eat, as well as quercetin, zinc, and melatonin may help improve your immune system’s function during a COVID-19 infection. The research on the use of nutrients in COVID-19 patients often uses levels that are too high to be attained only through diet. Giving patients higher doses of certain nutrients has had positive outcomes during COVID-19, and since these nutrients come with little risk, they should be included in patient care. More research is needed to figure out the best amount of the drug for a person to take to protect them from or relieve symptoms of COVID-19.
1. Fermented foods and probiotics can have anti-inflammatory and anti-pathogenic effects.
The microbes in your gut help protect you from infection by competing against invading pathogens. The gut microbiota also aids in the digestion of nutrients like fiber and other carbohydrates through a process called fermentation. This results in byproducts that play many important roles in the body from protecting the colon to improving insulin sensitivity.
Research has recently found that your microbiome is key to a healthy immune system and your ability to fight off infection. Probiotic supplements and fermented foods can both help reduce your risk of infection. The live microbes in these foods help fight pathogens in the gut and contribute to anti-inflammatory pathways around the body.
Certain strains of bacteria are more effective than others at combating infection and inflammation. Lactobacillus Plantarum, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus casei, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus (also known as Lactobacillus GG) are all particularly good at fighting viral infections in the upper respiratory tract.
First, if you’re considering taking a probiotic supplement, look for a supplement that contains two or more of the strains of bacteria mentioned above. The bottles that are most likely to contain immunity or inflammation-reducing ingredients are the ones that list those ingredients on the label. However, it is always advisable to read the ingredient list before purchasing a product. Your diet can help promote a healthy microbiome. Healthy microbes can be directly planted in your gut by eating fermented foods such as kefir and kimchi. Once these healthy microbes have found their home, they can thrive by eating foods that are high in fiber, such as beans and cruciferous vegetables.
2. Zinc makes an infection less severe—but common supplements exceed a safe limit of intake.
Zinc is needed for the proper functioning of the cell-mediated and humoral immune responses. These are two types of immunity where the body produces a specific response to a particular pathogen. Zinc deficiency can decrease the number of available immune cells, making it harder for the body to fight invaders. After looking at 13 studies that compared zinc and placebos for the common cold, researchers found that taking zinc within 24 hours of the first sign of a cold could make it shorter and less severe.
This means that men need 11 milligrams of zinc and women need 8 milligrams of zinc every day. You can find it mostly in red meats and seafood, especially oysters and mollusks. While zinc is found in plant sources, the quantity is much lower than that of animal products. Additionally, the absorption of zinc from plants is lower than from animal products. Since vegetarians and the elderly are at a higher risk for not getting enough zinc from their diets, they need to be careful to get enough from other sources.
If you aren’t getting enough zinc in your diet or you think you might be getting sick, take 25mg of zinc per day. Most supplements come as 50mg, so you should take half the dosage before taking it. Zinc supplements are best taken on an empty stomach.
3. Vitamin C’s reputation for immune support is justified—but more is worse, not better.
We can’t talk about immunity without addressing vitamin C. Both zinc and vitamin C are essential micronutrients that we must obtain from our diets. Vitamin C is important for immunity because it scavenges damaging oxidation compounds, boosts the function of immune cells, and supports the body’s anti-inflammatory response. When someone has a vitamin C deficiency, it impacts their immune system and makes it easier to get sick. This review looked at hundreds of studies examining vitamin C’s role in immunity. The researcher found that taking vitamin C at a dose of 100-200mg per day may help to prevent respiratory infections.
4. Vitamin D supplementation can protect your respiratory tract.
Optimal vitamin D concentrations have been linked with a reduced risk of developing respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold. A systematic review of randomized control trials found that vitamin D supplementation may protect people from acute respiratory tract infections. This is especially true for people who are deficient in vitamin D from the start. Furthermore, upper respiratory tract infections are more likely to occur in people with lower levels of vitamin D.
Vitamin D levels that are optimal may help protect against respiratory infections. You should consume 1,000 IU of vitamin D every day.
5. Ginseng can improve respiratory symptoms in the elderly.
The antioxidant effects of ginseng help to reduce inflammation, support immunity, and provide other health benefits. Several studies have demonstrated that ginseng can help to reduce the severity of symptoms associated with the common cold and respiratory tract infections. The systematic review looked at many studies and found that ginseng extract reduced the duration of the common cold. The findings of the study were replicated in a double-blind, randomized control trial where subjects were given ginseng extract over a period of four months. Ginseng was found to reduce the risk and duration of respiratory symptoms in an elderly population by 48% and 55%, respectively.
Ginseng could be especially helpful for the elderly. You will get the most benefits from taking this within two hours of a meal. Aim for 2,000mg of ginseng extract daily.
So, which supplements are proven to support the immune system?
The following supplements were associated with a reduced risk of infection, duration of infection, and severity of symptoms when taken daily. There are many different supplements that can help support the immune system. Each one has its own unique properties that can help keep you healthy.
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
Since the supplement industry is not regulated, it is up to the consumer to choose a reputable product that is backed by science. I hope that this recap will help you make wise choices and prepare yourself for the worries and problems of winter and that it will put you in a good position to avoid getting and suffering from COVID-19.