As the coronavirus is still in full swing, researchers have grappled with the pathogen to try and find therapies that work.
But, because of the lack of clinically-efficient treatments, attention has shifted towards boosting the immune system.
And vitamins and minerals have quite the appeal. The 2021 paper from Elsevier Public Health Emergency Collection has studied the immune-boosting role of vitamin D, C, E, selenium, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.
The question is, can vitamins help against COVID? Let’s look at the data behind the effects of these nutrients in coronavirus patients.
Coronavirus is a serious threat to global healthcare. To understand the covid 19 outcomes, it’s important to look at the symptoms.
The first cluster of COVID 19 patients struggled with symptoms of pneumonia. Typical COVID 19 symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, fever, and loss of smell or taste. COVID patients may also experience weakness, sore throat, muscle pain, or respiratory distress.
But, as the infectious disease spread, it was evident that this was an unpredictable and unique ailment. With severe COVID 19, these symptoms can be very debilitating.
The thing is, the COVID 19 infection is new to us. But, the immune system isn’t. Researchers have studied our immunity for a very long time. While we are still looking for a drug that can kill the severe COVID 19 infection, which can take a while, we can target the signaling molecules that send the body into overdrive.
The Study On The Effect of Vitamins On COVID Patients
The immune system is a reflection of your overall health. There are parts of it that you can’t change, like genetic predispositions and old age. But, there are also parts that you can modify. Your eating, sleeping, exercising, and stress-coping tactics impact those cytokines.
Nutrition remains a detrimental aspect of maintaining good health, experts explain. Crucial dietary components have notable immunomodulatory effects. These include:
These dietary components can offer some benefits in infectious diseases. Some of them have been shown to feature a potential role in managing COVID-19.
This study, published in the National Institutes of Health, offered some evidence on the specific effect of vitamins in COVID patients. It also offered evidence on how supplementation with these nutrients could be a viable therapeutic modality, with the potential to reduce mortality and morbidity rates in those affected with the infection.
If you are considering vitamins to take for COVID, then the data in this research can help you shed some light on what to expect with a vitamin D supplement or any other dietary supplement.
What Does the Research Say?
There are plenty of vitamins to take for COVID. But, vitamin D can have its uses. Vitamin D has roles in an array of body systems. That also includes the immune response.
Vitamin D helps with the antimicrobial peptide expression, thus boosting innate cellular immunity. Innate immune responses feature the chemical, physical, and cellular defenses against invading pathogens. And COVID is a pathogen.
A virus, like influenza, can drastically damage the epithelial tight junctions. This makes a person prone to an infection and pulmonary edema (excess fluid in the lungs).
Vitamin D supplementation can help keep these junctions in tip-top shape. In contrast, a vitamin D deficiency makes you susceptible to infection.
To that end, a sufficient amount of vitamin D level in the system can aid with adaptive immune response, cell function, and curbing the production of the pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Low levels of this vitamin could increase the severity and incidence of COVID-19 infection. Whereas with an adequate vitamin D in the system, the body could have an easier time protecting the airway epithelium from this pathogenic invasion. Thus, vitamin D can curb the risk of infection.
Vitamin C was also evaluated. This vitamin acts as an antioxidant capable of scavenging reactive oxygen species. Vitamin C is present in leukocytes. When a person is infected, their leukocyte sources quickly get used.
When the body is thrown out of sync, its oxidant generation and antioxidant defenses can change many signaling pathways. Vitamin C supplements can help replenish these sources. Besides, this vitamin is known to offer a protective element in infectious ailments.
Adequate vitamin C levels can help prevent a viral infection, support respiratory defense mechanisms, and curb the severity and duration of flu-like symptoms. The sudden crash during a COVID infection escalates as the illness gets worse.
This vitamin can be a counter to this. The vitamin curbs the pro-inflammatory cytokines levels and amplifies the anti-inflammatory cytokines. It can also support immune function. These effects make a supplement with vitamin C a sensible option in a micronutrient deficient patient at risk of COVID.
Zinc supplementation becomes a viable choice when dealing with upper respiratory tract infections. This key trace mineral has potent antiviral and immunomodulatory compounds. This gives it the potential to support people receiving treatment for COVID.
The mineral might boost the efficacy of other treatments currently being investigated. But, more data is necessary to evaluate the impact of zinc. Some patients with COVID who were treated with high-dose zinc also noticed a clinical improvement in their symptoms.
Supplementing with this mineral could curb the related COVID symptoms, like a lower respiratory tract infection.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Next, we have omega-3 fatty acids. Although they might boost oxygenation in a COVID-infected patient, more research is necessary. So, experts are urging caution when using these fatty acids.
Another vitamin to take for COVID seems to be vitamin E. A strong immune system is necessary, and vitamin E can aid immune health.
Vitamin E is crucial when infected with COVID to curb how long the respiratory infection lasts. And to also ease the symptom burden.
Higher dietary intake of vitamin E can be useful. But, it is worth mentioning that most of the evidence in this study is based on very high doses that don’t come solely from a diet. So, if people were to use a supplement, they should consult with a specialist.
Further health research, as well as Chicago Medicine, seems to support these claims.
Vitamin A and Vitamin B
Vitamin B6 exerts potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative compounds, which can benefit the lungs. Vitamin B12 and vitamin D3 may also help.
The effects of each of these vitamins, like vitamin E, vitamin D, C, zinc, and selenium, can offer a possible benefit to those suffering from COVID. These are especially noteworthy results for the elderly population, which are at high risk.
All the nutrients mentioned have a feasible role in support of COVID patients. With the currently available evidence, many experts are starting to review whether supplementation is supposed to be broadly recommended. That’s why it is best to consult with a specialist before making any drastic changes to your diet.
How to Get These Vitamins and Minerals in Your Diet
The foods you consume can do more than just fill your belly. They are here to supply the system with all the nutrients and minerals it needs to thrive.
Vitamin C, for instance, can be obtained from citrus fruits, broccoli, brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, etc.
Vitamin D is a unique product that you get from both sunlight and food. Options like salmon, soymilk, shiitake mushrooms, and eggs are high in vitamin D.
For those who lack vitamin E, plant-based oils, fruits, veggies, hemp seeds, and nuts make for a go-to choice.
Oysters feature an abundance of zinc, which can also be found in poultry, breakfast cereals, nuts, beans, etc.
Opt for organ meats, seafood, and Brazil nuts for adequate selenium sources. Seafood is also a great source of omega-3 fats.
For those who lack sufficient vitamin and mineral levels, a vitamin supplement can help. A supplement is good when your food doesn’t offer the nutrients your body needs.
Vitamins like vitamin D and vitamin E have a plethora of uses. This research shows that these vitamins people take can also make a practical addition when dealing with COVID cases.
Regardless of how beneficial a vitamin can be, when taking it as a supplement, it’s best that you discuss the doses with your doctor. To establish a better nutrient balance, include healthy foods in your diet that are abundant in the vitamins you need.