Sure, they can boost your immune system
- Just because vitamins, supplements, and medications can help prevent and treat the common cold and symptoms of the flu, that doesn’t mean they are the best measures to prevent and treat COVID-19.
- While getting essential vitamins and minerals from supplements and whole foods can help bolster your immune system, it’s best to first take coronavirus-specific precautions, such as washing your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, not touching your face, covering your coughs and sneezes, and practicing physical distancing or physical isolation to prevent getting and spreading the virus.
In the face of a global pandemic, it’s only natural to want to stock up on some preventative vitamin C packets and zinc supplements in an attempt to boost your immune system and maybe even wrestle back some control in what feels like a helpless situation.
But before you throw all your hard-earned money at vitamins and supplements, we talked to Donald Boyd, M.D., R.D.N., an oncologist, hematologist, and nutritionist at Yale Medicine, to find out if everyday vitamins, supplements, and medications can safeguard you from the most recent contagious strain of novel coronavirus (COVID-19)—or if there’s more you should be doing.
First, a quick refresher on the virus: COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, and has since rapidly spread throughout the world. According to a February report of a joint World Health Organization-China mission, the virus’ symptoms can be as mild as a sore throat, headache, and nasal congestion, or as severe as fever, dry cough, fatigue, sputum (phlegm) production, and shortness of breath.
How to Prevent Coronavirus
Given that these symptoms can mimic the flu or common cold, you might be tempted to use the same types of medications, vitamins, or supplements to treat and prevent it. (It’s worth noting that the majority of people diagnosed with COVID-19 so far have reported a fever and shortness of breath to start—both of which typically don’t present with the flu or the common cold, Omid Mehdizadeh, M.D., otolaryngologist and laryngologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center, told Prevention.)
But according to Boyd, you can’t compare COVID-19 to the common cold or the flu. “It’s a brand new virus that is dangerous,” he tells Runner’s World. “For people who are taking multivitamins or vitamin C, it won’t hurt, but you should not rely on them over the advised precautions of preventing coronavirus, like washing your hands often or practicing social distancing or social isolation.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), other precautions include covering your coughs and sneezes, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces every day, and avoid touching your face.
With those precautions in place, being well-nourished with the proper nutrients is a factor in preventing any illness—including COVID-19—Boyd says. Research backs this up—according to a 2018 study published in the journal Nutrients, being nutrient-deficient can lower your immune function.
“Various micronutrients are essential for immunocompetence, particularly vitamins A, C, D, E, B2, B6, and B12, folic acid, iron, selenium, and zinc,” the study states. “Micronutrient deficiencies are a recognized global public health issue, and poor nutritional status predisposes to certain infections.”
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends the following daily doses of the above micronutrients for adults:
- Vitamin A: no more than 3,000 micrograms (mcg)
- Vitamin C: 75 milligrams (mg) for women; 90 mg for men
- Vitamin D: 600 international units (IU)
- Vitamin E: 15 mg
- Vitamin B2: 1.1 mg for women; 1.3 mg for men
- Vitamin B6: 1.3 mg
- Vitamin B12: 2.4 mcg
- Folic acid: 400 mcg of dietary folate equivalents
- Iron: 18 mg for women; 8 mg for men
- Selenium: 55 mcg
- Zinc: 8 mg for women; 11 mg for men
As a general rule of thumb, the safe level of most nutrients in a multivitamin or mineral supplement should be around 100 percent of the daily value. However, there are some exceptions, according to Healthline. Taking high doses of vitamins A, D, and E can lead to longterm complications such as irregular heartbeat, blood clotting interference, hemorrhages, and organ damage. Taking high doses of vitamins C, B6, and folic acid can lead to issues such as GI distress, nausea, heartburn, and can negatively impact your immune system, so it’s important to pay close attention to the doses of these micronutrients.
That’s also why whole foods are always the best way to get the nutrients you need, Boyd says. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), you should eat 5 servings of vegetables per day, 4 servings of fruit per day, 6 servings of whole grains per day, 3 servings of dairy per day, 8 to 9 servings of lean meat and eggs per week, 2 to 3 servings of fish (preferably that provide omega-3 fatty acids) per week, 5 servings of nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes per week, and 3 servings of healthy fats and oils per day.
As for other ways to better help boost your immune system and prevent against coronavirus, Boyd recommends getting enough sleep and moderate (but not excessive) physical activity—both can help lower stress and improve your immune function. “Listen to music, dance, play guitar—whatever helps calm you down.
What to Do If You Think You Have COVID-19
Symptoms can occur two to 14 days after exposure, according to the CDC. If you are experiencing symptoms you think may be related to COVID-19, Boyd suggests contacting your local coronavirus hotline, which provides recommendations based on symptoms.
As a general guideline, if you have mild symptoms, stay at home and self-isolate, and take medications such as Tylenol and decongestants, Boyd says. If you have more severe symptoms, such as a fever over 100 degrees, a cough, and shortness of breath, call your healthcare provider or local health department.
Bookmark your state, county, and local public health departments—you can find a directory of state offices here. They’ll have the latest on the recommended protocol in your area.
9 Spices That Boost Your Immune System
“You don’t want to go to the emergency room unless you are specifically told to because that’s where you could get or spread [coronavirus],” Boyd says.
Boyd cautions that if you do suspect that you have COVID-19, you should work closely with your doctor, especially if you are already taking medications regularly as some may interact negatively with the virus.
“This is rapidly evolving illness, and more information should come out about the relationship between medications and coronavirus as more research is done,” Boyd says.
It’s best to avoid herbal products at this time—such as ginseng, elderberry, echinacea—Boyd says, because medical professionals don’t currently know the effect they have on this virus either.
The Bottom Line
While getting essential vitamins and minerals from supplements and whole foods can help bolster your immune system, it’s best to first take coronavirus-specific precautions, such as washing your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, not touching your face, covering your coughs and sneezes, and practicing physical distancing or physical isolation to prevent getting and spreading the virus.
If you come down with any symptoms of the virus, call your local coronavirus hotline for specific recommendations and instructions.
One Nutrition Organic Black Seed Oil
Black seed oil is high in antioxidants and may have several benefits for health. These include the treatment of asthma and various skin conditions, lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels, aiding in weight loss, and protecting brain health. Early research suggests that taking a specific black seed oil product twice daily for 6 weeks might reduce total cholesterol, “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and blood sugar levels in people with metabolic syndrome.
For over two thousand years the black seed (Nigella sativa) has been traditionally used as a food and in general wellbeing. Known as ‘The Blessed Seed’ it is said
to have a wide number of benefits based on traditional use. Made exclusively from organic Egyptian black seed, preserved in an amber glass bottle.
How to take: Take 1 teaspoon (5ml) as needed. Can be added to drinks, used in salad dressing or drizzled over vegetables. Store in a cool dry place. Once opened, store in the refrigerator. Not recommended for use in frying.
What should we be eating to help us resist the coronavirus?
The COVID-19 pandemic, and our efforts to flatten the curve, present major challenges to people living in Nevada, and the world. Food and nutrition are key issues, as many people are looking for ways to boost their immune systems to fend off and fight the virus. David St-Jules is an assistant professor at the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources who researches how nutrition affects various diseases and medical conditions. He offers the following advice to the public on how diet can, and cannot, help combat COVID-19.
Our current attitudes and beliefs toward healthy eating are largely shaped by nutrition research and marketing designed to address the long-standing epidemics of obesity, and obesity-related chronic diseases in the U.S., not deal with infectious diseases such as COVID-19. When faced with the threat of a currently untreatable, potentially fatal disease, it is common for us to look to diet for a potential cure. However, we must realize that foods and supplements are not drugs, and diet is necessarily limited in what it can achieve. Arguably the best thing that people can do to help combat coronavirus is to follow the evidence-based guidelines for healthy eating designed to provide adequate nutrition, including adequate nutrition to help ensure our immune systems are properly functioning. Here are some clarifications surrounding our efforts to fend off COVID-19 with our food and nutrition choices.
Can I get infected from food?
- Current evidence indicates that the coronavirus is primarily transmitted person-to-person via respiratory droplets produced through coughing and sneezing.
- No evidence supports the transmission of coronavirus from food or food packaging. Although the virus may be transmitted from surfaces and objects through contact with the mouth, nose, and eyes, this is not thought to be the main route of transmission.
Are there specific foods and nutrients that will reduce my risk of infection?
- Yes and No.
- Yes – Nutrients are required in adequate amounts to support our body functions, including those that help our immune system to work properly and help protect us against viruses such as the coronavirus. Nutrient deficiencies can therefore impair our immune system., but there is no evidence that nutrient excess will enhance our immune system.
- No – There is no evidence that specific foods or nutrients prevent viral infections such as COVID-19 in healthy adults who are meeting their daily nutrient needs.
What can people do from a diet perspective to reduce the risk of harm from COVID-19?
- Follow the USDA MyPlate food recommendations. The USDA’s MyPlate is the current nutrition guide designed to provide the required amounts of essential nutrients for healthy adults and children. To prevent nutrient imbalances (deficiency or toxicity), people are advised to consume the recommended balance of food groups and choose a variety of foods within each food group.
- Beware of misleading claims. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission have already issued warning letters to numerous companies for claims related to COVID-19 – claims regarding foods, test kits, vaccinations, pills, potions, lotions, and more. People should be wary of unsubstantiated claims related to improving immune function. More information on coronavirus scams, what the Federal Trade Commission is doing about them, and what you can do to avoid falling prey to them be found on the Federal Trade Commission’s website.
What about supplements?
- By design, dietary and herbal supplements are not required to show that they are safe or effective (that would be drugs), nor are they able to claim the ability to prevent, treat or cure a disease (that would also be drugs). But, supplement manufacturers can craft messages that imply health benefits such as, “boosts immunity,” and consumers often interpret these messages to be hard facts. Such claims are not subject to the standard of significant scientific agreement among experts and are not vetted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
- For most adults, a multivitamin/multimineral supplement is unnecessary and unlikely to provide any additional protection in those consuming the balanced, varied diet recommended in MyPlate.
- Beware of costs. Supplements can be very expensive. Unless you are certain of the benefits, this money may be better spent on foods to support a healthy diet.
- Beware of claims. The potential benefits of supplements are often based on basic research, such as cell culture research and animal studies. Often these effects are not substantiated by more in-depth scientific research on humans, and therefore these effects are not known to translate to humans.
- Beware of unintended consequences. Taking a given supplement can have multiple effects on our bodies, including effects with negative consequences. For example, we know that zinc is an important nutrient for immune function, and this could be the basis for an “immune-boosting” claim, encouraging zinc supplements. However, taking too many zinc supplements can reduce the absorption of other nutrients, such as iron, which is also important for immune function. Thus, taking mega-doses of any certain nutrient is not recommended for the general public.
Where are we today?
What we know is that diet is one of the most important factors we can control to improve our health, including our immune systems. Nutrients in food are like fuel for our immune engines, necessary to make them run properly. Putting in excess fuel doesn’t make the engine run better.
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But, it is equally important to recognize: while nutritional science may one day identify specific dietary patterns that will reduce the risk of infection in otherwise healthy, well-nourished adults, the field is relatively young, and we simply aren’t there yet. Just because there is a gap in our understanding does not mean that we should fill it with foods or supplements that have undemonstrated benefits, and uncertain consequences.
For now, we need to focus on what we do know, which is that a balanced, varied diet is the best way to supply the nutritional fuel that our immune engines need. No diet will guarantee protection. Plenty of apparently well-nourished people have already been infected. But, nutrient deficiencies can certainly impair our immunity and increase our risk of infection.
MGO Manuka Honey 100+
Why Manuka Honey?
Manuka honey is used as a natural ointment for wounds of all kinds. It has been hailed as a go-to germ fighter in an age of resistance to conventional antibiotics. Proponents also claim that Manuka honey can treat other conditions from acne to sinus issues.
Manuka honey hasn’t been used very long as a traditional remedy. It’s the product of the New Zealand scrub plant that gives it its name. European honey bees introduced it to the area in the early 19th century. When bees pollinate from this plant, their honey is more potent than standard honey bee honey. This is because it has a higher concentration of methylglyoxal (MGO).
What are the benefits of Manuka honey?
When it comes to superfoods, raw honey is associated with health benefits. Manuka isn’t raw honey, but it is specialized. It’s antibacterial and bacterial resistant. This means that bacteria shouldn’t be able to build up a tolerance to its antibacterial effects.
Manuka honey is said to be effective for treating everything from a sore throat to clearing up blemishes on your skin.
Other purported benefits of honey include:
- helping heal cuts and scrapes
- clearing infections
- easing stomach aches
- improving digestion
- boosting the immune system
- providing energy
– 100% New Zealand Pure Manuka Honey
– MGO™ content guaranteed
– Traceability guaranteed from beekeeper to jar
Harvested over 4 short weeks each year, MGO™ Manuka Honey is sustainably sourced from beehives in remote and pristine areas of New Zealand with full traceability from beekeeper to jar.
This delicious, smooth and creamy honey contains a minimum of 100mg of MGO™ per kg and is available in 250g, 500g or 1kg jars.
The unique benefits of Manuka Honey are well documented and are scientifically tested. However, it is important to know that the level of methylglyoxal can vary greatly in Manuka Honey, so you want to be sure you know what you’re getting. That is why at Manuka Health we test and certify our MGO™ Manuka Honey to guarantee the level of methylglyoxal present, as indicated on the label.
Enjoy MGO™ Manuka Honey off the spoon, with food such as toast or drizzled over porridge, or add to a hot drink when you are feeling a little under the weather
Please note Manuka Honey is not suitable for children under 12 months.
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