Faced with the threat of COVID-19, we are all asking ourselves the same question: what can I do to protect myself and my loved ones from this virus?
The safest and most wholeheartedly offered piece of advice I can give you is, by all means, to follow the prescribed measures: wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds often, especially after going outside, cover up coughs and sneezes, don’t touch your face, and practice social distancing. With these basics covered, however, we’re all wondering whether (and how much) supplements and vitamins can help us.
Let’s find out.
How much do vitamins impact our immune system?
There is no single vitamin that can do wonders for your immunity.
Why are they then advertised as such?
Well, the answer is a bit complex.
In truth, your immune system will benefit from a balanced, healthy diet that provides your body with all the necessary nutrients (vitamins and minerals included). If you are not getting enough of a certain mineral or vitamin through your diet, then yes, it will likely be advisable to supplement.
And this is true at all times, virus or no virus.
If you believe you are not getting enough of a certain vitamin or mineral, you should see your doctor, perhaps do a blood test, and then take the supplements you have been recommended.
Ideally, though, you want all of your vitamins to come from a balanced diet. And in present-day reality, eating healthy, getting enough exercise and sleep, and taking care of your mental health is more important than ever, as all of these factors will impact your immune system.
Of course, there might be different reasons why you may not be getting enough of a certain nutrient. Diet choices and medical conditions can impact the way you absorb nutrients, so talking to your doctor should also be paramount.
Why is everybody stocking up then?
Since people are desperate for a solution, increasingly scared and vulnerable, they naturally reach for what they think can help them. In this case, vitamins.
And while it is true that Vitamin C is recommended and effective when it comes to the common cold or even the flu, this virus is neither.
Don’t believe any ad or any article that tries to convince you that a certain vitamin or combination of vitamins will keep you safe or help you recover if you do get infected.
What will keep you safe is sticking to the general rules we have outlined above, and adhering to any additional advice and regulations your government or the World Health Organization are issuing, as well as trying to keep yourself as healthy as you can possibly be.
Should I take them anyway, even if they may not really help?
Taking too much of any vitamin or mineral can have a very negative effect on your body. You can only absorb so much of them, and the excess will either be flushed out of your system or cause some unpleasant side effects in the process.
For example, if you take too much Vitamin C, you can develop blemishes, rashes, and bumps on your skin. So, before you start reaching for a pill, check out your daily vitamin needs and figure out how much of them you actually need.
What can I do to stay healthy?
Instead of trying to swallow a bunch of pills, focus your energy on eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, staying active, sleeping well, drinking enough water, and reducing your stress and anxiety levels as much as you can.
All of this might sound a bit too general, but it is the simple truth.
The vitamins and minerals you should be focusing on in your diet, if any, are vitamins C, D, and E, as well as zinc.
They are found in the following foods:
- Fatty fish
- Vegetable oils
- Dairy products
- Whole grains
- Lean meat
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should only eat the foods listed above, because you also need other vitamins and minerals. We’ll say it again: the key lies in eating a varied diet that should, on its own, be enough to provide you with everything you need to stay healthy.
On the other hand, if you do want to be taking supplements, or you need to supplement for whatever reason, the best thing you can do is actually make your own capsules. Since the FDA does not control the production of supplements, manufacturers are able to hide behind the proprietary blend excuse, which means you can never actually be sure what’s in some of them. By choosing to make your own, you will know exactly what you’re putting into your body.
Final verdict: what is my stance on supplements
In short, there is no silver bullet for the coronavirus. Some will recover faster than others, some will exhibit no symptoms at all, others will be more prone to it, and we are not yet sure why. It’s still too early to have all the answers.
And while this fact is certainly unsettling, instead of reaching for supplements to ease your mind, focus on eating right, forgoing bad habits, and simply trying to do what’s right for your body and mind.
Yes, it is a very general rule of thumb – but it is the only one that works so far.