08 Mar Supplements and Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Are there natural remedies for coronavirus (COVID-19)? I live in Washington State where COVID-19 is hitting hard, shutting down schools and universities, clearing Costco of toilet paper, and leaving us to wonder if our travel plans are a good idea or if they will even be possible.
What we do know is avoiding exposure and proper handwashing are essential steps to staying healthy. Having a strong immune system is your best defense and you know that nutrition plays a significant role, but can supplements play a role in fighting COVID-19? Here’s a quick rundown.
There’s no current research that indicates vitamin D supplements decrease the risk of COVID-19 specifically. However, in people who are deficient in vitamin D, taking a moderate dose of vitamin D daily may reduce the risk of respiratory infections.
Your best source of Vitamin D is sunshine. “Under the right circumstances, 10 to 15 minutes of sun on the arms and legs a few times a week can generate nearly all the vitamin D we need. Unfortunately, ‘the right circumstances’ are elusive: the season, the time of day, where you live, cloud cover, and even pollution affect the amount of UVB that reaches your skin.” 1 If you live north of LA or Atlanta, your skin won’t make enough vitamin D except during summer months.
Vitamin D is found in wild-caught fatty fish, grass-fed meats, egg yolks, whole milk, and mushrooms, as well as fortified foods and juices.
A vitamin D supplement is appropriate for many people to maintain optimal health. I recommend pairing it with vitamin K2 to maximize bone and cardiovascular health. Consult with a qualified healthcare professional to see if supplements are appropriate for you.
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)
NAC is converted by the body to the grand-daddy of all antioxidants, glutathione. Though there’s no evidence that it will prevent coronavirus a clinical study found that taking 600 mg of NAC twice a day reduced symptoms in people infected with the flu.
NAC is only available in supplement form, but you can get cysteine from foods including pork chops, chicken breast, tuna, lentils, oatmeal, eggs, and sunflower seeds.
Black elder has a long history as a treatment for viral infection and is currently one of the most-used medicinal plants worldwide. Preliminary trials suggest that elderberry extract may shorten duration of the flu, but more evidence is needed. Elderberry is generally well-tolerated but can induce allergic reactions in those who are allergic to grass pollen.
You’ve probably heard that vitamin C is good for your immune system, and it is. It’s necessary for the function of white blood cells. Vitamin C also enhances iron absorption and being iron deficient (not uncommon in women and dancers) makes you more susceptible to infections.
There’s no evidence that taking mega-doses (think 2 grams or more per day) vitamin C supplements can protect you from coronavirus, something you may have seen touted on YouTube or other social media sites. In fact, taking too much vitamin C can lead to upset stomach, diarrhea, and reduce the effectiveness of some medications.
If you want to take a supplement of vitamin C, I’m not opposed and it may even offer some benefits. Just keep in mind that more isn’t always more. Take a food-first approach by enjoying a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
Foods rich in vitamin C include kiwi, citrus, bell peppers, berries, rose hips, and Brussel’s sprouts.
Zinc has anti-viral properties and certain formulas, notably those found in zinc lozenges, have been shown to reduce the severity and duration of colds. In vitro (test tube, petri dish, in the lab) studies suggest increasing intracellular zinc concentration can impair the replication of a variety of viruses, including influenza and SARS-CoV. It’s not to say that zinc can prevent infection, but it’s certainly important to make sure you have adequate intake. Since overly-enthusiastic supplementation with zinc may interfere with copper absorption, keep use of lozenges limited to a week.
Foods rich in zinc include shellfish, meat, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Stay Safe: Resources and Recommendations
Want to enjoy optimal health during the COVID-19 epidemic? Here are my top tips:
- Wash your hands properly and often.
- Avoid close contact with others, including handshakes, hugs, and kisses as forms of greetings. Consider jazz hands as a sassy alternative.
- Get plenty of good-quality sleep.
- Take time for exercise, especially outdoors.
- Eat well.
If you need help with eating well, schedule a discovery call with me. Clients typically feel better within their first week of our work together, including increased energy, decreased brain fog, and better mood. Here’s the link to schedule your call. Let’s do this.