NOTE: With the 2019 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 including the wearing of protective masks can protect you from COVID-19.
The rapid escalation of a global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has left almost the entire world in a disarray, under economic strain, and constantly worried about health effects of the virus. There has been much positive news lately on the develop of both treatment modalities for COVID-19 as well as a protective vaccine. We are still many months away from a broad distribution plan and vaccination program; meanwhile, there is no end in sight for control over this pandemic. Pharmacists, doctors, and health coaches have been inundated with questions on what tactics to take to be better protected from contracting COVID-19.
The main research that has been conducted on the use of supplements has focused mostly on helping the immune system mount a proper response to COVID-19 and lower inflammation in the body. Limited research has been conducted on the use of supplements as a direct line of attack against the virus. In this article, we share information on 7 supplements that may help keep your body ready to fend off a viral attack or at least lessen its severity. We’ve made it easy for you to purchase these supplements by bundling them together in one package. Check out our Immune Support Bundle page to learn more!
You may be familiar with the micronutrient zinc because you rely on zinc lozenges to give your immune system a boost when you have a cold. Zinc is a metal that is a part of a group of micronutrients that includes iron, manganese, copper, iodine, and selenium. Why is this biometal so important to proper health? This metal is needed for the proper functioning of over 300 different enzymes, which are activated proteins that are responsible for making our millions of cellular biochemical pathways function. Zinc helps boost the immune system, supports the making of DNA, helps with wound healing, and is involved with slowing the aging process by fighting free-radical damage.
Reporting from a recent COVID-19 conference found that people who were hospitalized with COVID-19 and had low blood levels of zinc tended to not do as well as patients with normal zinc levels. Lower blood zinc levels correlated with higher inflammation during the course of the COVID-19 infection. It has long been known that zinc appears to bolster the immune system. In a recent study, it was demonstrated that sufficient blood levels of zinc can impair the replication of COVID-19. Zinc also helps macrophages, which are white blood cells that engulf pathogens to neutralize them, and low levels of zinc can make this process ineffective.
If you decide you want to take a zinc supplement, pleases remember that the upper intake level for zinc is 30-40 mg per day for adults and that includes both the supplement and the zinc you are getting in your food. A long-term intake above this recommended level increases the risk of adverse health effects unless you have a health condition, and your physician is prescribing a higher daily dose.
If you are looking for a good zinc supplement recommendation, Allergy Research Group makes a zinc citrate product with 25 mg of zinc in just one capsule. It is very inexpensive and provides the right amount of your daily zinc needs.
Vitamin D3 is an interesting vitamin because it is produced in your skin in response to sunlight. Now that the winter months are upon us and in most parts of the USA the temperatures have dropped, more people will get less sunlight and that can lead to a Vitamin D3 deficiency. Because Vitamin D3 is not found in food, it is critical that people low in Vitamin D3 obtain it through supplementation. There is an astounding level of Vitamin D deficiency, at almost 50% of the population. A sufficient level of Vitamin D is important for gut health, lower inflammation, mineral absorption, a healthy immune system, and strong bones.
The medical community started studying the effects of taking Vitamin D3 to reduce the effects of damage to the body from a COVID-19 infection. When the body is low in Vitamin D3, there is an associated risk of respiratory infection because there is a low immune response. Vitamin D3 enhances the “fighting” ability of white blood cells and lowers inflammation. A literature review in 2019 of control studies with 11,321 people taking Vitamin D3 showed a significant decrease in the risk of getting a respiratory infection for people that were deficient in this vitamin. Researchers believe that Vitamin D3 can induce defense compounds that can lower viral replication and reduce the levels of inflammatory cytokines.
One recommended way to take a proper level of Vitamin D3 is to take 10,000 IU/day for a few weeks to improve on a deficiency followed by a 1,000-5,000 IU/day on a daily basis. Taking this level of Vitamin D3 will help keep your tissue levels in the proper range. As we discussed earlier, so many people have a Vitamin D insufficiency a daily dose of 25 mcg (1,000 IU) will help get your Vitamin D3 tissue levels in the proper range. Thorne has a good liquid product that has 5,000 IU and also includes Vitamin K2. People in blood thinners need should not use Vitamin K, or consult with their doctor prior to starting any supplementation regimen or changes.
Probiotic to Reduce Gut Dysbiosis-Enhanced COVID-19
The composition of the intestines is amazingly complex and the gut microbiome is a diverse mixture of about 3 trillion organisms including bacteria, fungi, viruses and protozoans and other creatures. Over the last few decades, the science community has made remarkable progress in showing the KEY to sustaining a good health is to start with a healthy gut.
A healthy intestinal flora can significantly regulate the body’s immune system, control the inflammatory response, and keep the immune system ready for addressing pathogen attacks.
One of the most significant developments in understand the body’s susceptibility and response to COVID-19 is the recognition of the Gut-Lung Axis. The lungs have their own microcosm and the microbial communities of the lungs and the gut can communicate with each other through microbial metabolites and the immune system. The Gut-Lung Axis is bidirectional so when the lungs are in a disease state, the gut can also be affected. When someone has gut dysbiosis and microbial imbalance, this can lead to exacerbation of a lung infection.
The Connection Between a Healthy Gut and Overall Health
There seems to be a major emphasis on having a healthy intestinal flora when it comes to getting COVID-19 because a healthy gut is key to maintaining an optimal immune system to fight the infection without producing an over-reaction. Researchers believe that the immune system associated with the lining of the gut as well as the metabolites that gut microbes produce, such as short-chained fatty acids, play a large role in the response of the body to COVID-19 and this interaction occurs through the Gut-Lung axis. Thus, there is a hypothesis that the better we maintain the health of our intestines the more we’re able to fight off a major COVID-19 attack.
The medical community also started noticing that for patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 infections, there was associated gastrointestinal issues. A lung viral infection can alter the gut microbiome leading to the gut becoming inflamed and the bacterial community altered in such a way that there is dysbiosis. The dysbiosis can impair the lining of the gut leading to a “leaky gut” which can then cause secondary infections and disease impacts of multiple organs. The circulatory and lymphatic systems seem to translocate COVID-19 from the lungs to the intestines, and if the gut is not healthy, it will also succumb to disease.
One of the key takeaways from this research is the potential ability to ward off at least a serious COVID-19 infection through insuring that you have a healthy gut. A healthy gut can also avoid going into a disease state if you do get a COVID-19 infection. Improving the gut microbiome profile can be partially achieved through healthy nutrition and the use of a probiotic supplement. A probiotic can add back to your gut microbes that may be missing or in low amounts. Some probiotics, like the Proflora 4R also contains the immune and inflammation support compounds of quercetin, aloe vera, and marshmallow root.
Melatonin for Reduced Lung Inflammation
Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in the brain. Its production rises when we are in the dark and is reduced when we are exposed to light. Melatonin starts to rise around 9:00 p.m. and peaks during the night. This hormone is designed to promote sleep and low levels is often the cause for many people not to have a quality sleep pattern.
While melatonin is typically used to help get a better night’s sleep, it also plays an important part in regulating the immune system. There are proteins that are part of the immune system called cytokines, and these proteins are like signaling cells. Cytokines tell the rest of the immune cells when there is a pathogen invader and signals for an immune response. Some cytokines produce an inflammation response and if too much of a response occurs, damage can occur to tissue and organs. Researchers have discovered that melatonin can reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. This anti-inflammatory effect has been shown effective when dealing with COVID-19 inflammation and potential lung injury. One of the brands of melatonin we recommend is Thorne’s Melaton-3.
The Cleveland Clinic conducted a large-scale study on melatonin as part of a treatment plan for people infected with COVID-19. Researchers also discovered that taking a moderately high dose of melatonin was linked to a 30% reduction in testing positive for COVID-19. Melatonin may also reduce the blood vessel permeability that occurs with a COVID-19 infection as well as just have a calming effect for people that are sick.
One warning about taking melatonin is about 20% of people have an adverse reaction to it, where it can cause sleeplessness and anxiety. We recommend a 1-3 mg dose of melatonin to induce quality sleep to protect the immune system. Thorne melatonin products come in a 1 mg, 3 mg, and 5 mg formulation.
Curcumin to Reduce Viral Damage
One of the most well-studied, natural anti-inflammatory compounds comes from the Indian spice turmeric. Curcumin is the active compound of turmeric and is such a strong anti-inflammatory herb that its potency has been matched with some manufactured drugs. Scientists believe that most people have chronic, low-level inflammation and that this condition plays a role in almost every chronic disease.
Curcumin has also been shown to have antiviral activity against certain viruses and may be a potential natural treatment option for people for contract COVID-19. Some research has shown that curcumin can help prevent COVID-19 from entering the cell and may also help reduce viral replication. It may also help reduce the damage to tissues and organs if a “cytokine storm” happens . Another positive aspect of taking a curcumin supplement is that it might prevent COVID-19 from attaching to cells and replicating in the cell. While the research with curcumin and COVID-19 protection is very new, the anti-inflammatory properties of this herb has been very well studied.
An essential aspect of buying curcumin is that it needs to be mixed with black pepper to enhance its absorption by the body. When you look at a curcumin bottle, you will want to see a name like BioPerine or piperine included in the formula as a dietary supplement, which is just an extract of black pepper. There is a threshold dose of 1,000 mg per day with curcumin for it to be effective in reducing inflammation. Thorne’s Meriva sustained release product has the correct dose of 1,000 mg of curcumin with 2 capsules.
Vitamin C to Boost the Immune System
Vitamin C is the most popular supplements that people take to boost their immune system and to help ward off illness. Vitamin C is also one of the best supplements to protect the body from oxidative stress caused by free radicals, which causes cellular damage. When the body is under oxidative stress, meaning it is not detoxifying correctly, the body is more likely to get diseased. Fortunately, following a healthy diet that contains lots of fruits and vegetables will get you a good dose of natural Vitamin C.
Sometimes we need to boost our diet with Vitamin C in the form of a supplement to add extra protection during cold and flu season, when under a lot of stress, or in today’s world of dealing with a viral pandemic. Because about 25% of common colds are caused by coronaviruses, researchers have examined whether a moderate to high dose of Vitamin C would be effective in combating the specific COVID-19 virus. The National Institute of Health has supported research to determine whether Vitamin C should be included as part of their recommended COVID-19 treatment protocol.
A large-scale review of 29 studies in 11,306 people was conducted to see if Vitamin C supplementation really could help fight off the common cold. This study showed that taking 1-2 grams per day of Vitamin C reduced the duration of colds and severity of upper respiratory tract infections. Higher levels of Vitamin C are also helpful for people that are under significant stress.
Although the data seems good for supporting the use of Vitamin C to improve immune functions and lessen the effects of colds, there really is no specific data concerning COVID-19. Some doctors have used very high doses of Vitamin C through an IV for people with acute respiratory distress symptom that can be caused by COVID-19 and have achieved significant improvement. Other studies have suggested that more data is needed to confirm the use of Vitamin C as part of a COVID-19 treatment protocol.
While there is no clear-cut evidence with Vitamin C and COVID-19, most people simple do not get the right nutrition and need the extra immune-supporting effects of a Vitamin C supplement. Too high a dose of Vitamin C can cause an upset stomach, and the recommended dose is 1-3 grams of Vitamin C. We recommend the Quicksilver’s Liposomal Vitamin C because it is buffered to prevent stomach cramps or acidity. A simple teaspoon of the product will give you 1,000 mg of immune-boosting Vitamin C.
Vitamin B Complex to Reduce Hyper Immune Response
The B vitamin complex is made up of 8 different compounds: thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folate (B9), and cobalamin (B12). You have probably heard about why you need Vitamin B12, but all these B vitamins are necessary for the body to convert protein and sugar to energy, allow neurotransmitters to work properly, repair cells and muscles, and regulate metabolism. B vitamins also help to support a healthy immune system.
People who develop COVID-19 infections often get a hyperactive immune response when the infection gets severe. You may have heard or read about this “cytokine storm” which is the term used when the body mounts an exaggerated attack against the COVID-19. The cytokine storm can cause quite a lot of damage to organs and lung tissue. A recently published study supports the theory that B vitamins don’t just build and help to maintain a healthy immune system, they can also help balance the immune response during a viral infection. This “downregulation” effect would help mitigate the cytokine storm and may also boost production of viral-fighting cells called T-cells.
The science is still out on whether there is a direct correlation with taking a Vitamin B complex and reducing symptoms of COVID-19. But there is another reason to take a Vitamin B complex during the COVID-19 crisis, and that is to support good mental health. The vitamin B complex, especially Vitamin B6, have a very large impact on mental health because these types of vitamins are necessary as cofactors for the production of neurotransmitters. With all the stress and worry brought on by this pandemic, a good Vitamin B complex can help reduce anxiety.
A Vitamin B complex supplement contains all 8 of the B vitamins and although they share similar properties, each of the B vitamins are unique in their function. We recommend the Thorne B-Complex #6 because it contains not only the biologically active forms of the B vitamins, but it has an extra dose of the B6 vitamin to support good mental health.
Adding specific supplements to your daily nutrition is just part of an overall healthy lifestyle. However, there is no single supplement or “cure-all” for the COVID-19 virus and your best protection is always to start with physical distancing, wearing a mask when in a public space, and keeping your hands clean. There are a few supplements that we have talked about in this article that might have the added benefit of keeping your immune system stable, reduce viral replication, and protect your gut.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.