I’ve been getting questions about whether to take supplements, which to take, how much to take, what form, and so forth. The short (and slightly annoying) answer is: it’s different for everyone, and you should consult with your healthcare provider for personalized nutrition and supplement advice. While they are widely available to all of us, supplements can actually interact with medications that some of us are taking, so it’s always safest to check. Supplements are usually most effective for those with a deficiency, and are not necessary (or necessarily appropriate) for everyone.
With that said, I will now talk you through the evidence for and against certain supplements in viral and respiratory infections, and give you some details on each so that you can decide for yourself whether or not they might be helpful for you. The main three micronutrients for immune support are well known: the vitamins C and D, and the mineral zinc. There are also some lesser known substances (a polyphenol, a trace mineral, an amino acid and a hormone) that are currently getting attention in the current COIVD-19 pandemic, which I’ll touch on briefly after talking about the big three.
Right now, most of us are looking for ways to protect ourselves and others from the new coronavirus, COVID-19. There is lots of sensible advice from the CDC regarding hand washing and social distancing, but beyond that, is there anything more we can be doing to defend ourselves against the virus? There is a fair amount of well-intended advice circulating the internet right now, including some wild wellness claims and some overly cynical debunking pieces, making it hard to know what advice to follow and what to ignore.
Unfortunately, because this virus is new, we simply cannot know conclusively what may or may not work against it, yet. What we can do is to support our immune systems and take good care of ourselves, because the healthier we are, the better equipped we are to deal with any illnesses going around. Looking at the research we do have, there are a few key ingredients that have consistently shown themselves to be a useful defense against other pathogenic viruses and bacteria, as well as helping to soothe symptoms of respiratory tract infections. These ingredients are all things that you can find at the grocery store, or you may already have in your kitchen.
To be clear, this is not intended to mean that consuming these things will guarantee you protection against COVID-19 (right now nothing can make that claim) but they may be helpful and they aren’t likely to be harmful*, plus, taking an active role in your health is empowering - an important factor in staying sane during these uncertain times!
Hi, I'm Amy. I'm a nutritionist in the DC area, working with clients of all ages, focusing on prenatal and pediatrics. I'm all about straightforward, evidence-based health & wellness advice - because life/parenting in the modern world is complicated enough!