As COVID-19 continues to rage, gaining strength and becoming more contagious in some areas with the new variants of the virus, experts say now is the time to boost your immune system.
Cristina Palacios, associate professor of dietetics and nutrition at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work at Florida International University, says that people with a stronger nutritional status can fight the disease better than others.
''We constantly have pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria, coming into our bodies. If our immune system is working really well, we don’t get infected,'' she told Florida International University News.
Palacios collaborated with a team of international experts to develop nutritional and supplemental guidelines for frontline workers to protect their health as they battle COVID-19. She says that the general public can definitely benefit from these recommendations as people begin to return to everyday activities.
Here are the top supplements adults should consider:
1. Vitamin C. Palacios says that this vitamin is essential for the immune system because it boosts the health of white blood cells that help fight infections, particularly during a pandemic. She recommends 1,000 milligrams daily. Foods rich in Vitamin C include citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes and cranberries.
2. Vitamin D. While many of us get our Vitamin D from sunshine, during this critical time it is good to add a supplement. Palacios said that low levels of this vitamin have been associated with increased risk of developing respiratory conditions. Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, author of "From Fatigued to Fantastic!" tells Newsmax that Vitamin D always has been at the top of his list to battle viral infections. ''Optimizing Vitamin D is critical for both lowering your risk of getting COVID-19, and the severity of the infection,'' he said. ''Multiple epidemiological studies have shown that low levels of Vitamin D are associated with a much worse outcome from the disease. I personally recommend taking a multivitamin containing 1,000 IU of D3 daily.'' Palacios says it is best to consume this vitamin during meals. You can also boost your intake by eating fish and fortified foods.
3. Zinc. Palacios says that this mineral is crucial to the function of our immune cells. She told FIU News that studies have shown that increased concentrations of zinc can impede the replication of many viruses, including the SARS-coronavirus. Her recommendations for adults? Less than 40 milligrams daily.
Other vitamins can help boost your overall immune system while not targeting COVID-19, says Palacios. These include:
- Vitamin A, which is found in milk, dairy products, eggs, and yellow and orange fruits.
- Vitamin B3, or niacin, which helps reduce inflammation and damage to the lungs, is plentiful in chicken, meat, fish, grains, beans and nuts.
- Vitamin B9, or folate, has been shown to help prevent respiratory infections. It is found in leafy greens vegetables as well as fortified foods.
- Probiotics. Palacios says that taking probiotics found in yogurt and fermented milks can help prevent upper respiratory tract infections.
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