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Can Immunity Boosting Vitamin supplements protect you from COVID-19?

Can immunity boosting vitamin supplements protect you from COVID-19?
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Can Immunity boosting vitamin supplements protect you from COVID -19?

The buzz word of this year 2020 is a coronavirus. The outbreak of the COVID-19 forced the government to implement lockdown to avoid the spread of the novel virus. In spite of the best efforts from the State as well as the  Central Govt. we miserably failed and the pandemic has spread to every nook and corner of this country. Now, the question is how to remain safe? Social Media and digital space are flooded with various inputs regarding COVID 19. During the initial months of the lockdown, the entire focus was on sanitizer and masks but off lately the focus has drifted to an individual’s immunity system. Can immunity-boosting vitamin supplements help us to protect from COVID-19?

This is the question that haunts us now. But, before delving deep into the topic it’s important to understand how our immune system works and what factors can boost it.

I take the opportunity of BlogChatter’s campaign #MyFriendAlexa to write a series of 8 posts on #Covidcare to throw light on various aspects of COVID-19 for us to combat this fatal threat more effectively.

What is Immune system and how does it function?

It is important to understand how our immune system works before knowing how vitamins help us to strengthen our immunity and help us to combat COVID-19.

In layman’s language, it is the complex network of cells and proteins that defends the body against infection. The immune system of a body records the entry of every microbe that was defeated and tries to destroy it quickly  the moment the microbe invades the body.

The body has various lymphatic organs that produces lymphocytes or white blood corpuscles which fight against the pathogens or microbes by producing antibodies. The antibodies tries to lock onto the antigens present in the foreign substance that enters our body. Once antibodies for a specific germ is created it remains in the blood stream to fight with the same pathogen or germ if the body is attacked again.

Now, let us understand what role does vitamin offer and why it’s essential to have them to keep COVID-19 at bay.

What are Immunity Boosting Vitamins and how does it help ?

The current pandemic has introduced a virus to the entire globe that has no vaccine and hence the body does not have the requisite antibody to fight against it. The only option that we are left with is to make our immune system strong enough to fight back to this fatal threat.

There are several lifestyle factors that impacts Immune system of our body apart from vitamins and minerals.

Adequate hours of sound sleep which should be 7-8 hrs and a daily exercise of 30mins is equally important for a strong immune system.

Vitamins are the essential organic compounds acquired as a part of a balanced diet for various biological and metabolic processes, promoting differentiation, proliferation and signalling. They also play a vital role in the immune system helping to balance inflammatory and suppressive response.

Vitamins support the immune cells in various functions and help them to fight against the infection that a body incurs.

There is a total of  13 vitamins including vitamin A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins ( thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, B6, B12 and B9 or folate). Our body also requires minerals for various biological processes and there are 13 essential minerals that is required for a strong immune system and healthy body.

For a strong immune system there are 8 essential vitamins and minerals required mainly which are :

  • VitaminC
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Magnesium
  • Iron

But, here I have discussed only those vitamins and minerals that are playing a crucial role in combating COVID-19.

Immunity boosting vitamin supplements to protect you from COVID-19

Vitamin C

This Vitamin is the most popular and widely known to boost the immunity of an individual. It plays a very vital role in immune system of a body.

Role of Vitamin C in boosting immunity and protecting from COVID-19

  • Vitamin C is responsible for cellular death. Helps in clearing out the old and dead cells and replacing it with new ones.
  • It functions as a powerful antioxidant agent, protecting against the oxidative stress that happens due to the accumulation of reactive molecules known as free radicals. Oxidative stress has a negative impact on the immune system and causes various diseases.
  • Vitamin C plays a vital role in reducing the duration and severity in of upper respiratory tract infections, including the common cold. Because of this property of Vitamin C, it’s a mandatory dose for COVID positive patients.

Interestingly, various studies demonstrate that high dose of intravenous Vitamin C treatment significantly improves the condition of the patients suffering from Sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome resulting from Viral infection.

Dose for Vitamin C taken as supplement

The upper limit is 2000mg

Supplemental Daily Dose ranges from 250 mg -1000mg.

However, the doctor and nutritionist always encourage to have vitamins and minerals naturally through food.

Food that is rich in Vitamin C

Lemons, Oranges, Strawberries, Papaya, Broccoli, Kiwis, Kale, Guava, Parsely etc. These food items could be taken regularly to assist the immune system to be strong and robust.

Disclaimer: Before taking any supplements please do consult your doctor for the same.

Vitamin D

Role of Vitamin D in boosting immunity and protecting from COVID-19

  • This fat soluble vitamin has both anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties  that is crucial for activation of the immune system
  • It enhances the function of T- cells and macrophages that basically fights and engulfs pathogens that enters our body.
  • low or Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to decreased lung function that makes the lung more prone to respiratory infections like tuberculosis, asthma, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as viral and bacterial infections.
  • Vitamin D has a  vital role in checking ‘Cytokine Storm‘. Basically, cytokines are protein that are released in response to the entry of the pathogen in our body inorder to reduce infection and fight against the disease. Dysregulated and uncontrolled release of cytokines can damage the body tissues and lead to multiple organ failure.

Role of Vitamin D in protecting from COVID-19

Patients of COVID release a large number of cytokines that leads to cytokine storm resulting in multiple organ failure. Here, Vitamin D supplements and doses help to reduce the excessive release of cytokines and reduces the fatality or the severity of complications in the patient. This vitamin helps in reducing morbidity and mortality by reducing the chances of multiple organ failure in COVID patients having vitamin D deficiency.

Foods that are rich in Vitamin D

Cod liver oil, fishes like tuna, salmon, hilsa, mackerel, sword fish ,Egg yolk.

Mushrooms are the only plant-based food to have this Vitamin.

Disclaimer: Before taking any supplements please do consult your doctor for the same.

Zinc

Zinc is not exactly a vitamin but a mineral and a micronutrient that affects various aspects of immune system. It is essential for normal development and function of cells required for innate immunity, neutrophils and NK cells. Zinc deficiency effects phagocytosis, intracellular killing, macrophages and cytokine production .

Role of Zn in COVID patients

Currently, anti-malaria drug chloroquine and its metabolite hydroxychloroquine are being tested in clinical trials as a potential solution to limit COVID -19 mediated fatality and mortality. These drugs are able to restrain pH-dependent steps of COVID -19 replication by increasing pH in intracellular vesicles and interfere with virus particle delivery into host cells.

Deficiency of zinc is rampant in older adults and patients suffering from cardiovascular disease, chronic pulmonary disease, or diabetes. These drugs specifically target extracellular zinc and are very effective in reducing COVID-19 mortality than chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine individually.

Currently, several clinical trials are being undertaken and taking malarian drugs along with zinc has been found to be very effective.

You can read in details how zinc along with anti-malaria drugs is highly effective by Dr.Soumitra Das.

Foods that are  rich in Zinc

Whole grains like Bajra, Barley, Jowar, Ragi, whole wheat etc. , Cashewnuts, Sesame seeds, peanuts, Walnuts. Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc content and are best consumed as raw. Pulses and dal like Chickpeas, Moong, Rajma, Urad dal, toovar dal, Chana dal. However, dal and pulses have phytates in them that hinders zinc absorption. Hence, nuts are a better option for zinc for a vegan diet.

Disclaimer: Before taking any supplements please do consult your doctor for the same.

Magnesium

Magnesium is one of the most vital micronutrient and abundant cation that is required for various cellular systems. Its role in immunology is crucial as a co-factor for immunoglobulin synthesis, C’3 convertase, immune cell adherence, antibody-dependent cytolysis and many more important functions.

Role of Magnesium in COVID patients

Vitamin D has the ability to reduce the pro-inflammatory cytokines and magnesium helps to synthesize and to activate vitamin D. So, magnesium intake is equally essential to combat COVID -19.

Foods that are rich in magnesium

Naturally also magnesium could be consumed through our diet like boiled spinach, dry roasted cashew, dry roasted almonds, pumpkin seeds, low fat yogurt, Avocado, bread whole wheat, Black Beans. etc.

Conclusion: 

The above-mentioned vitamins and minerals have a crucial role in boosting immunity that can help us to keep COVID-19 at bay. It is always a good choice to have the above-mentioned vitamins naturally through foods. If one is planning to take supplements the doses should always be consulted from a professional for not experiencing any side effects of an overdose.

Apart from supplements, it’s crucial to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Things that should not be overlooked just because one is having vitamin supplements.

  • Adequate sleep (at least 7-8 hrs daily)
  • A balanced and healthy diet
  • Less sugar or caloric diet
  • Exercises of 30 mins at least on a daily basis
  • Breathing exercises like pranayama to strengthen your lung muscles.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle along with the right doses of supplements  is the key to protect us from this pandemic. This article is to help you understand the science behind the immunity boosting vitamin supplements and how can they keep us protected from COVID-19. Apart from wearing mask, washing our hands and maintaining social distancing ,consuming immunity boosting vitamin supplements have also become equally important.

Do share your thoughts on the measures that you are taking to keep yourself and your family safe from COVID-19.

This post is part of the BlogChatter Campaign #MyFriendAlexa .

You can also read my previous posts related to this pandemic below.

What you need to know  while flying with toddlers during the lockdown

Risks of overuse of hand sanitizers in your daily life

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21 thoughts on “Can Immunity Boosting Vitamin supplements protect you from COVID-19?

  1. Well researched post, Debi. Personally, I do not rely on the supplements until specifically prescribed by the physician however given the current times, it has become really important to include them along with the natural foods.

  2. Great post Debi and indeed boosting Immunity is crucial during these days of pandemic. Healthy diet, adequate sleep, regular exercise and adding good nutrients as you had mentioned also work wonder. Very well reasearched post.

  3. Its got all the natural nutrients required for our body but i stay away from supplements as much as i can, especially the ones that look like this. hope its working out well for you and your family.

    1. I am glad you found it useful. The intent was to back the scientific reason behind having right vitamins.

  4. Another Well researched post Debi, very significant information you have penned in extremely concise and concrete way. Boosting our immunity is the only solution we can go with to saty fit and healthy especially in this Pandemic. Hope very soon we will get the news of Covid 19 vaccine launch also. Fingers Crossed!

    1. Yes, I am taking zincovit and Vit D as getting sunlight in my apartment is a bit difficult. Though our flat is very airy we miss the morning sunlight. It just touches our balcony. Moreover, this was also recommended by our family doctor. But yes, yoga, eating healthy and having sound sleep is equally required.

    1. Even I have also started taking it after my doc’s advice and i am glad there is a strong science supporting this to keep COVID at bay.

  5. Very well researched post. In the current times, it’s important to work on improving our immunity by any means so that we have a upper hand when dealing with infections. It’s not easy to get our daily requirement of vitamins from diet alone so supplements help us achieve that.

  6. What a detailed and insightful post Debi. Having strong immunity is so important and this pandemic has made us all realise that. A healthy diet clubbed with exercises and adequate sleep definitely plays an important role in building our immune system. For now, my doctor has advised me not to eat any immunity booster as a daily routine since I am on my last trimester. But then I have been asked to consume a lot of fruits and dryfruits to boost my immune system.

  7. Supplements have become an essential during Covid-19. No matter how much healthy diet you follow, you have to have supplements too. Nice blog articulated sharing all the details.

  8. This is an info-packed post Debidutta. But isn’t the virus too new for there to be conclusive research about what works and what doesn’t? Are these any better than hit and trial methods of trying to do away with the disease?

    1. It’s new and with research and trials only we can move ahead . To follow the best practices in the present time to stay safe, is the ideal approach that human race can seek.

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