Unless you have been living under a rock in recent weeks, you will be well aware that the Coronavirus or COVID-19 is making its way across the world. Although COVID-19 and the flu have similar symptoms, it has already been established that this new virus is much deadlier. There are basic measures that everyone can and should be following outlined by the WHO that include washing your hands thoroughly with soap, avoiding touching your eyes, mouth and nose, minimising social distancing amongst others.
Although COVID-19 is still a relatively new virus that is likely to have its own characteristics that scientists are still uncovering, there is already plenty of well-researched information out there that explains how to minimise your chances of getting a general viral infection. Your immune system is key to fighting off viruses and keeping your body in a healthy state. Certain micro-nutrients are essential for the upkeep and maintenance of a healthy immune system and while they won’t cover all of your bases, having the right levels of the right micro-nutrients could significantly decrease your risk of infection. Here are the top 3 micro-nutrients for a healthy immune system…
Vitamin D plays a key role in regulating the balance of the immune system, particularly by acting as a source of power for T-cells – a type of white blood cell that is at the core of the immune system and adaptive immunity. Without Vitamin D, T-cells cannot be activated which of course, leads to impaired immune system function. I have written about the importance of Vitamin D3 previously and it has also been shown in independent studies that people with Vitamin D deficiency are more likely to have the flu and colds.
The best way to get your source of Vitamin D is from natural sunlight. If you didn’t already have a great excuse to get outdoors and into the sunshine, well now you do. Getting outside will most likely partner up nicely with getting away from enclosed spaces with other people and escaping A/C systems, both of which are known to breeding grounds for viruses. Getting morning sunlight is optimal as it helps to balance the circadian rhythm, which also has an effect on the strength of the immune system.
The alternative method is to supplement Vitamin D, ensuring that it is consumed with something fatty so it can be properly absorbed. It is important to know your own blood levels of Vitamin D3 by measuring them regularly but for many, the recommended dose is 50-100 micrograms a day – but only if you are running low on Vitamin D3.
In the human body, zinc is required for the function of more than 300 enzymes and more than 1000 proteins that regulate the function of genes. It is also known to prevent oxidative stress and fight infections. Regular use of zinc may reduce the incidences of flu, at least in children. Studies on children show that regular use of zinc can prevent flu.
Zinc is the first supplement to take immediately if you feel yourself even a little sick with any of the typical flu symptoms: running nose and nasal congestion, sore throat, headache, fatigue/weakness, coughing, muscle ache and fever. It is important though to not go overboard with supplementation, as excessively high levels can cause toxicity and stomach pain. However, research shows that only certain forms of zinc are effective for the flu and common cold:
- Zinc acetate – take 15mg 5-6 times per day as long as needed. You can take this form of zinc either as a lozenge or a sublingual spray. Take for a maximum of two weeks.
- Zinc picolinate – take 18-23mg every two hours during wake times since the onset of symptoms for as long as needed. Lozenges are best for this form and you should also take for a maximum of two weeks.
Vitamin C is unique in the sense that during the evolution of humans, we have lost the ability to produce our own and as a result, must obtain it from diet. It is utilised throughout the animal kingdom as an antioxidant that is produced as a response to bodily stress. Vitamin C doesn’t necessarily prevent colds and infections, but a large meta-analysis showed that regular intake of Vitamin C can shorten the duration of colds. A 1999 study of 463 students also showed that mega-dosing Vitamin C may be helpful in treating the flu right after the appearance of flu symptoms (dosage below). Overall, reported flu and cold symptoms of the test group decreased by 85% compared with the control group after the administration of mega-dose Vitamin C.
Vitamin C is stored throughout the body but especially in white blood cells as part of the immune system. In times of disease and infections, the body’s store of Vitamin C can become depleted quite fast for attending to acute needs. Therefore, if you notice yourself with flu-like symptoms, it would be a wise decision to start taking big doses of Vitamin C within 24 hours of the first symptoms appearing. The body is able to store 300 – 2000mg of Vitamin C in itself.
For most people, a 1000mg dosage every hour for the first six hours of symptoms appearing is advised and then 1000mg 3 times daily for as long as needed.
- This post and the viewpoints that it expresses should not be treated as medical advice. Consult with your doctor before ordering or using any of the supplements mentioned in this post.
- All of the studies and supplements effectiveness mentioned are from viruses, cases of flu and colds of the past. Coronavirus or COVID-19 is completely new and we do not know how effective these methods are with this specific case. However, having the right micro-nutrients for a healthy immune system will certainly help you out.
- A big thank you to the folks at Biohacking Handbook that put together the vast majority of this information and made it available to the general public.