Vitamin supplements effective in fighting COVID-19, says researcher
The researcher claimed there is a wealth of knowledge supporting the fact dietary supplements can boost immune function, but suggested they are more effective in higher doses than recommended levels.
Supplements containing vitamins C and D and other micronutrients, sometimes in amounts exceeding recommended levels, are a safe, effective and low-cost means of helping your immune system fight off COVID-19 and other acute respiratory tract diseases, an Oregon State University (OSU) researcher has claimed.
Adrian Gombart of OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute and collaborators at the University of Southampton (United Kingdom), the University of Otago (New Zealand) and University Medical Center (The Netherlands) have said that public health officials should issue a clear set of nutritional recommendations to complement messages about the role of hand washing and vaccinations in preventing the spread of infections.
“Around the world, acute respiratory tract infections kill more than 2.5 million people every year,” said Gombart. “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.”
Specific vitamins, minerals and fatty acids have key jobs to play in helping your immune system, he said. In particular, Gombart noted that vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are critical for immune function.
“The roles that vitamins C and D play in immunity are particularly well known,” he said. “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. Consequently, we will see an increase in disease and all of the extra burdens that go along with that increase.”
The researchers have not only urged people to eat a daily multivitamin, but in doses of 200 milligrams or more of vitamin C (higher than the suggested federal guidelines of 75 milligrams for men and 50 for women) and 2,000 international units of vitamin D, rather than the 400 to 800 recommended, depending on age.
“A number of standard public health practices have been developed to help limit the spread and impact of respiratory viruses: regular hand washing, avoiding those showing symptoms of infection, and covering coughs,” Gombart said. “And for certain viruses like influenza, there are annual vaccination campaigns.”
There is no doubt that vaccines, when available, can be effective, but they’re not foolproof, he said.
Gombart emphasised that current public health practices – stressing social distancing, hygiene and vaccinations – are important and effective, but are in need of complementary strategies. A nutritional focus on the immune system could help minimise the impact of many kinds of infections, he said.
“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. We strongly encourage public health officials to include nutritional strategies in their arsenal.”