Disclaimer: No supplement will cure or prevent disease and no research supports supplement use with coronavirus. Please practice social distancing, proper hygiene and talk to your clinical provider for specific recommendations.
There is significant interest in staying healthy these days. Many questions exist about how to maintain a healthy immune system and maintain immune system support. A healthy immune system is necessary for both health promotion and disease prevention. When people learn I am a nurse practitioner, I get asked about many different supplements. What should I be on? How much do I take? Where do I learn more?
My clients vary in age. This article focuses on immune support for adults and is informational in nature. This is not as a treatment or diagnosis for specific conditions. Readers are encouraged to contact their health provider before taking any supplements.
Water is the most important supplement for health. Water supports nearly every function that occurs within the human body. The human body is over 60% water. Most of that water is contained in cells – the building blocks of structure and energy. Cells need water to function. The body needs a smaller amount of water outside of the cells to help with transportation. Water is found in blood plasma and other fluids that cushion the brain, fill the eyes, support joint and organs. Water is also found in the lymph system to flush waste products.
Vitamin D is important with calcium absorption and bone health. It is made within the human body through sunlight exposure. Ultraviolet light reaches the skin, a chemical process occurs. Vitamin D is also recognized for immune health, along with muscle, brain, cell growth and inflammation. Vitamin D is not readily available unless you eat lots of Cod, Trout and Salmon. Because Vitamin D is not normally found in many foods, American milk has added vitamin D. Nonpregnant females and adults aged 19-70 years of age should take a minimum of 600 I.U. daily. Many providers recommend higher doses, but that should be managed along with blood work.
Vitamin C is also important in immune support. It takes care of free radicals and inflammation. Free radicals are byproducts formed in response to normal body functions and stress. Vitamin C plays a roll with immunity in that deficiencies increase the risk of infections. Vitamin C deficiency also leads to more free radicals. Normal doses to prevent infection range between 100 and 200 mg/day. However, some clinical providers prescribe doses up to 2000 mg daily. Higher doses increase the risk of side effects such as gastrointestinal upset.
Zinc is necessary for immune support at the cellular level. Manufacturers add it to vitamins and minerals, although oysters are a good dietary source. When your body does not have enough zinc, it cannot successfully activate the immune system. This is especially true with viral and some respiratory infections. Supplements come in varying doses, but the key dose has to do with the elemental dose. Patients over the age of 18 can usually tolerate up to 40 mg daily. Zinc can interact with some medicines, so please check with your health professional.
Proper use of probiotics can help but some users need to be cautious. Probiotics are a usually a short term treatment. Antibiotics affect the healthy gut bacteria, so probiotics can help. Certain at risk conditions should not use them. This includes any allergies to ingredients, recent surgery and some immune conditions.
The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate probiotics. Instead they are classified as supplements. These supplements come in many forms such as through biologically active foods (yogurt, kimchee), refrigerated drinks, and pills. There are many different types of probiotics to choose from. Some need to be refrigerated for optimal effect. Probiotics may be contaminated if they come from unverified sources so only use quality products.
No supplements are clinically proven as either a prevention or treatment for illness. However, proper intake of vital nutrients and staying hydrated can help. Do your own research and make the best decision for you. Ultimately, while dealing with Covid-19, Coronavirus and other viral illness, everyone is encouraged to follow public health recommendations. These suggestions include social distancing measures, proper hygiene and other guidance from regulatory organizations. Any specific questions should be directed to your specific health professionals.
DrKTurk is a unicorn in the healthcare field and encourages new followers. She is an accomplished health practitioner, educator and advocate that is dedicated to quality healthcare and clinical expertise. Follow Turkington Medical online or at LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
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 National Institutes of Health. (2020, March 24). Vitamin D. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/
 Carr, A.C. & Maggini, S. (2017). Vitamin C and immune function. doi:10.3390/nu9111211