Staying Healthy & Strong

TouroCOM Professor Niket Sonpal Shares How to Keep Your Immune System in Tip-Top Shape

May 05, 2020
Supplements may boost your immune system

With the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, it’s especially important to understand that no supplement, diet, or other lifestyle modification, other than physical distancing, also known as social distancing, and proper hygiene practices can protect you from COVID-19. That said, by providing your body with enough essential nutrients, you can ensure the various components of the immune system are able to function properly. Here are a few to consider:

We have all been told to get lots of fluids and vitamin C during colds. A large review of 29 studies in 11,306 people demonstrated that regularly supplementing with vitamin C at an average dose of 1–2 grams per day reduced the duration of colds by 8% in adults and 14% in children. That is not a big change, but we do know that it helped reduce colds most effectively in those under high physical stress, like marathon runners and soldiers, by up to 50%. I would even venture a guess that healthcare workers fall into this category.

Vitamin D
In a 2019 review of randomized control studies in 11,321 people, supplementing with vitamin D significantly decreased the risk of respiratory infections in people deficient in this vitamin and lowered infection risk in those with adequate vitamin D levels. Daily supplementation may be protective but more data is needed.

In a 2019 study, 64 hospitalized children with lower respiratory tract infections took 30 mg of zinc per day and saw a decrease in the total duration of infection and the duration of the hospital stay by an average of two days, compared with a placebo group. There is a lot of data still to be collected but zinc may help protect against respiratory tract infections and reduce the duration of these infections. If you eat a balanced diet or take a daily multivitamin you should be getting adequate amounts of zinc.

Finally, supplements such as astragalus, garlic, curcumin, elderberry and echinacea may offer immune-boosting properties. Still, they have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and more research is needed. If you plan to start any supplement consult with your doctor first.