CORVALLIS, Ore. — In the event of a coronavirus infection, one’s immune system usually needs all the help it can get. To that end, a new study has found that supplements containing vitamin C and D, as well as other micronutrients, are a safe, effective, and affordable way to held fend off COVID-19. Researchers even say that dosage amounts exceeding federal guidelines, in some cases, are beneficial.
The research team, an international collection featuring scientists from the United States, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, believe health officials should issue a clear set of nutritional guidelines for mitigating COVID-19 risk factors. Just like other major campaigns regarding handwashing or the importance of social distancing.
These findings don’t just apply to COVID-19; dietary supplements can help fight any number of acute respiratory tract diseases.
“Around the world, acute respiratory tract infections kill more than 2.5 million people every year,” says Adrian Gombart, a study co-author and professor biochemistry and biophysics at Oregon State University, in a release. “Meanwhile, there’s a wealth of data that shows the role that good nutrition plays in supporting the immune system. As a society we need to be doing a better job of getting that message across along with the other important, more common messages.”
Professor Gombart named a number of vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids that can give one’s immune system a boost. Besides Vitamin C and D, he mentioned zinc, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and omega-3 fatty acids.
“The roles that vitamins C and D play in immunity are particularly well known,” he explains. “Vitamin C has roles in several aspects of immunity, including the growth and function of immune cells and antibody production. Vitamin D receptors on immune cells also affect their function. This means that vitamin D profoundly influences your response to infections.”
“The problem is that people simply aren’t eating enough of these nutrients. This could destroy your resistance to infections,” he continues. “Consequently, we will see an increase in disease and all of the extra burdens that go along with that increase.”
So, what exactly do researchers recommend? Besides a daily multivitamin, they also suggest 200 milligrams or more of vitamin C each day (federal guidelines only recommended 75 milligrams for men and 50 milligrams for women), and 2,000 international units of vitamin D (more than the 400-800 usually prescribed).
Even after a coronavirus vaccine is developed, whenever that may be, proper nutrition will still be an integral aspect of keeping COVID-19, just like any other respiratory disease, under control.
“The present situation with COVID-19 and the number of people dying from other respiratory infections make it clear that we are not doing enough,” Gombart concludes. “We strongly encourage public health officials to include nutritional strategies in their arsenal.”
The study is published in Nutrients.