Can Vitamins Really Help Your Immune System?

A discussion on how supplements can treat Covid-19 needs to be elevated during the pandemic. The crisis has disrupted normal life around the world while the healthcare industry awaits the development of a vaccine, which may take over a year. Here is evidence that supplementing vitamins for immune system strength during the coronavirus crisis has a positive impact.

Coronavirus Facts

  • 2019-2020 coronavirus was named Covid-19 by the World Health Organization
  • virus is transmitted through respiratory droplets and other body fluids
  • infection affects lungs and causes shortness of breath
  • common symptons include fever, dry cough and sleepiness
  • most cases are mild, but some cases may lead to pneumonia and death

Immune System Issue

At the core of every virus issue is the notion that people with strong immune systems will be least likely to contract the illness. Maintaining this performance comes down to eating nutritious foods, getting plenty of exercise and rest and avoiding stressful activity. Eating fruits and vegetables help provide essential nutrients to the body. Vitamin supplements ensure that daily requirements for essential nutrients are met.

Both vitamins C and D are important in helping the immune system overcome Covid-19. Researchers from around the world including Ohio State University published a report in the journal Nutrients recently how these vitamins are a low-cost way to fight the virus. Other supplements that strengthen the immune system are zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s common for the American diet to lack the proper balance of nutrients, which is why supplements are necessary.

Most people have strong enough immune systems to fight foreign invaders to the body within minutes. Cells and plasma proteins work together to smother and destroy viruses that attempt to enter a cell and duplicate its genetic code. Covid-19, however, is an RNA rather than DNA virus, meaning it doesn’t permanently settle in the body.

Raising Awareness Virus History

Part of the solution to the coronavirus besides taking vitamins for immune system protection is raising awareness about viruses of the past. The most serious virus was the influenza pandemic of 1918-1920. It infected over 500 million people around the world, killing up to 50 million.

The virus led to severe inflammatory response and took a huge toll on young people. Yet the virus, which spread through the military, was downplayed by newspapers to protect the morale of WWI soldiers. The virus inevitably went away on its own.

The swine flu of 1976 marked big mistakes such as over-inflated predictions of how many millions of Americans would be affected. The vaccine was rushed to market and ended up injuring hundreds of people who took the mandated shot. Only one person died from the virus, whereas several died from the vaccine. Once again, the virus went away on its own as nature provided the solution.

Two more recent virus outbreaks were SARS and MERS, both affecting the respiratory system. Both were fatal illnesses, as the mortality rate for MERS was 34 percent.

Evidence Vitamins Fight Coronavirus

Dr. Joseph Mercola publishes information on his website backing the claim that supplementing vitamins for immune system boosting has many health benefits. According to his site, in 2009 vitamin C proved to be a potential lifesaver against swine flu. Mercola cites a 1994 study that found elderly patients given 200 milligrams of vitamin C each day experienced better recoveries than placebo participants.

In another article, Dr. Mercola explains how the only real defense against Covid-19 is each individual’s immune system. People who eat balanced meals that include vitamin C are in a good position to fight the disease since vitamin C in certain doses kills pathogens. The combination of vitamin C along with vitamin D, magnesium and zinc can do wonders for boosting the immune system. Understanding vitamins for immune system enhancement parallels the key to staying healthy through the coronavirus crisis.

In Korea, according to Dr. Mercola, a doctor has seen virus-infected patients recover in days instead of weeks by taking vitamin D and up to 24 grams of vitamin C. Mercola has further suggested the advantages of spending time in a sauna, which raises body temperature, one of the keys to killing pathogens.

Taking care of your health has always been important, but, in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, more people than ever are considering supplements and vitamins for immune system support.

Since there’s currently no vaccine or treatment for this deadly virus, it’s critical to do as much as you can to prevent yourself from contracting it in the first place. While social distancing and good hygiene are critical, taking the right supplements can also help your body fight off illness and disease.

Here are a few of the supplements you’ve likely heard about in the media, and the truth about whether they’re actually effective for helping to fight off COVID-19.

Vitamin C

An essential nutrient that the body needs to stay healthy, vitamin C definitely belongs at the top of any list of vitamins for immune system support. It’s a powerful antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Studies have shown that getting enough vitamin C each day can help you avoid catching the common cold. It can also decrease the duration of symptoms. It stands to reason that this immune system boost would also translate into better resistance to COVID-19.

One of the critical symptoms of this virus is lung inflammation. This is often what leads to respiratory distress and even death. The anti-inflammatory benefits of vitamin C may help to reduce this symptom.

It’s a great idea to eat more vitamin-C-rich foods like oranges, pineapple, kiwi, and broccoli. If you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough vitamin C from your diet, you may also decide to take a supplement. However, taking huge doses won’t do you a lot of good.

While the likelihood of adverse effects from taking too much vitamin C is low, if you take a large amount at once, your body will absorb very little of it. For best results, take several small (200 mg) does two or three times a day with meals.

Vitamin D

Another essential nutrient, Vitamin D has been shown to help protect against acute respiratory tract infections. This fat-soluble vitamin is naturally produced by the body when it’s exposed to the sun. However, very few people get as much sun exposure as they need.

If you’re too busy to spend a significant amount of time in the sun or you live somewhere with less-than-ideal weather conditions, you’ll want to add vitamin-D-rich foods to your diet. You may also consider a supplement.

Some foods that are high in vitamin D include salmon and other oily fish, mushrooms, and egg yolks. To give yourself the best chances of avoiding a respiratory infection, aim to consume a total of 1,000 UI of vitamin D each day.

Zinc

Zinc has long been known for its ability to shorten the length and severity of symptoms related to illnesses like common colds and the flu. It works by activating the body’s T-cells (t-lymphocytes), which triggers an immune system response.

Many people take massive amounts of zinc supplements at the initial onset of rhinovirus symptoms. However, taking smaller amounts daily is likely a better approach. Generally, men need 11 mg of zinc per day and women need 8 mg.

You can find zinc in red meat, seafood (particularly mollusks and oysters), legumes, and certain whole grains. While zinc deficiency isn’t common, vegetarians and the elderly should consider zinc supplements.

If you choose to supplement, be careful not to overdo it. The upper limit is 40 mg per day. Any more than that and you could develop negative effects, including a copper deficiency or even neurological issues. If you think you’re not getting enough zinc or you feel cold symptoms coming on, consider taking no more than 25 mg per day.

Glutathione

Another important element for optimal immune function, glutathione is a peptide that contains amino acids. This helps protect your cells from oxidative stress, has anti-inflammatory properties, and can help cells repair from damage caused by infection.

Some of the best foods to improve your glutathione levels include sulfer-rich vegetables like broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, garlic, and onions. Other excellent options include avocados, tomatoes, grapefruits, yogurt, poultry, egg yolks, asparagus, and walnuts.

The optimal amount of glutathione varies but generally ranges from 50 to 600 mg per day. It’s best to consult with your doctor before taking this or any other type of supplement to determine the amount that’s ideal for your body.

Taking Supplements and Vitamins for Immune System Support

It’s clear that maintaining a healthy immune system is more important now than ever. Remember, however, to use common sense and always take supplements in moderation.

When it comes to taking vitamins for immune system support, more isn’t always better. Focus on eating a healthy diet and following supplement recommendations. This will put you in the best possible position to stay healthy and well during this challenging time.


Conclusion

Effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in terms of social distancing are expected to last for several months. But risk of the disease itself can be greatly reduced by taking proactive steps to protect the immune system. These steps include putting the right substances into your body, such as essential vitamins for immune system enhancement. People who use proper amounts of vitamin C will help reduce the odds of getting coronavirus.

The global coronavirus pandemic has shaken the healthcare industry like few other epidemics in the past. Initially deemed a “nasty case of influenza,” coronavirus was until recently considered a suspiciously long-lasting cold. With the array of data we have regarding colds, and how to fence them off (basic hygiene practices, good nutrition, healthy sleeping patterns), it can be challenging to draw the line between what can help with coronavirusand what will not.

It is undeniable that your immune system plays its part in how your body fights off a disease or your likelihood to contract it in the first place. Vitamins for immune system boosts have been on the market for a couple of decades now, due to the recent boom of the wellness industry, and the increased awareness internet access gives us on new health practices.

However, if you’re looking to avoid contracting the coronaviruslike everyone else around the worldyou will have to combine your immune-system-boosting routines with social distancing and other WHO-prescribed safety measures.

In the meantime, here’s everything you should know about vitamins that may strengthen your immune system and potentially help you fight off the Covid-19 virus.

Understanding How The Immune System Works

Your immune system is your body’s natural defense system against invading pathogens. These pathogens can include viruses and other infections. Having a strong, healthy immune system is key to fighting diseases; however, your immune system’s ability to keep infections at bay depends on both your genetic makeup and your lifestyle. Much like body muscle, some are born with a robust immune system base to work with, while others are not. And like working out can strengthen muscles, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can boost your immune system.

50,000 new cases of primary immune deficiency are found in the US every year. Alarmingly enough, this condition is not always diagnosed until a sufferer’s health is severely compromised. Therefore, the current pandemic requires additional vigilance in keeping your children as far from the virus as possible. This mostly involves social-distancing and frequent hand-washing. However, past scientific findings may suggest that strengthening your immune system is also crucial. 

An Improved Immune System May Help You Fight Most Diseases

Research has found that a lowered immune system can lead to the contracting of diseases such as pneumonia and influenza, which both share several characteristics with coronavirus. Both covid-19 and the flu are respiratory diseases that cause fever, dry coughs, and fatigue. However, it is 10 times as likely to be life-threatening. Therefore, immune system boosts are less likely to have an impact on your body’s ability to fight the Covid-19 virus than it would simple flu. However, the current trials of Vitamin C as an intravenous treatment against coronavirus suggest that there is merit to the claim that a healthy immune system may accelerate recovery times.

Vitamins For Immune System Strengthening

The following vitamins and supplements have been proven to have a positive impact on people’s ability to fight infections.

1. Vitamin C

Vitamin C has been used as a cold-repellant for years now. Research has found that vitamin C can improve lung function, which may reduce the need for mechanical ventilation. The consumption of large doses of vitamin C has also been found to shorten the length of ICU stays, across patients suffering from various diseases, by at least 8%. The same study also established that this vitamin C intake could reduce the need for mechanical ventilation by almost 20%.

2. Vitamin D

White blood cells that help your immune system fight off diseases (monocytes and macrophages) are given a pathogen-fighting boost when your body processes vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to immune-dysfunction, which can heighten the risk of respiratory tract infections. In the US,60% of nursing home residents are suffering from vitamin D deficiency. Usually, this can be diagnosed from thinning hair, brittle nails, and lethargy. Considering that seniors 65 and above are generally regarded as high-risk for covid-19, they are potentially the demographic in greatest need of vitamin D supplementation.

3. Zinc

Though Zinc is a mineral, it is commonly consumed in the form of supplement pills because Zinc is essential to immune cell development. Zinc deficiencies have been linked to the contracting of pneumonia, and a range of inflammatory problems. Studies have found that the use of zinc supplements may decrease the risk of respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia and the common cold.

A Concluding Word

While there is little hard evidence linking vitamins for immune system strengthening and the fencing off of Covid-19, past findings regarding the health value of Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Zinc cannot be denied. It may be wise to assume that though there has been limited time for extensive study, the similitudes between covid-19 and the common cold suggest that similar preventive methods must be taken. Investing in a few vitamin supplements will help you stay on the safe side, and maintaining social-distancing and appropriate hygiene will ensure your immune system does not have to prove its efficiency any time soon.

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