Update on Most Important Nutrients for Building Immune Strength During the Pandemic

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virusOur team of nutrition experts is working hard to stay abreast of all of the rapidly emerging information on COVID-19. As new recommendations are made about best practices to reduce your exposure to the virus and ways to optimize your immune function, we are doing our best to share these important updates with you.

This complex and deadly virus has scientists and the medical community racing to understand the mechanisms of this virus and find possible treatments. It is critical that we all adhere to the recommendations from health officials to help decrease transmission. This includes washing your hands regularly, using hand sanitizer, covering your face and nose with a cloth cover, avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, stopping non-essential travel, and very importantly practicing safe social distancing.

The wide range in severity of COVID-19 cases has many people puzzled. Chronic health conditions, such as obesity, hypertension, heart disease, asthma, diabetes, and autoimmune conditions have been shown to increase one’s susceptibility, symptom severity and mortality. We are also seeing certain populations hit harder, as well as more men than women. And, we are seeing many young, healthy individuals die from this virus as well, especially in the United States.

Functional medicine experts believe that individual factors, such as one’s unique genetic blueprint, biochemistry, micronutrient status, diet, lifestyle habits (smoking, drinking, poor diet), leaky gut/compromised GI health, and toxin load are key influencers playing a role. And, by taking a personalized approach, we can uncover some very important insights into one’s health risks and determine the safest and most efficacious interventions. Using this data for nutrition and medical purposes can help optimize health and help to best prevent, manage and treat diseases.

Being that COVID-19 is a novel virus, there are no pharmaceutical or integrative strategies that have been validated by large-scale and long-term clinical trials yet. As we continue to learn more about COVID-19 and eagerly await study results, we must rely on existing data while also paying close attention to promising emerging research. Beyond taking the necessary preventative measures listed above, there is an immediate need for people to take proactive steps to promote foundational health and build resiliency. This includes making healthy dietary choices, engaging in beneficial lifestyle behaviors (most importantly, plenty of restful sleep and managing stress) and supplementing with supportive nutrients. (See our comprehensive recommendations in Healthy Foods & Nutrients to Optimize Your Immune System During the Coronavirus Outbreak.)

Leading integrative medical doctors, who are part of the Institute for Functional Medicine COVID-19 task force, are meticulously evaluating the use of natural agents for optimizing immune health. Their recommendations include specific herbs and nutrients that have been shown to safely and effectively support the body’s immune system, modulate the inflammatory response, and have anti-viral properties. Based on their research at this time, the most important supplements to promote immune system balance during this period of enhanced risk are listed below. We recommend that you consult with your healthcare practitioner to determine which nutrients and dosages are best for you. Village Green’s nutrition team is also available to provide personalized guidance and we invite you to call for advice or schedule an appointment, if you would like a more thorough consultation.

In general, higher dosing and the use of multiple agents are recommended for those with pre-existing inflammation, multiple health conditions, and those at higher risk. However, it is important to take into account all of the supplements that you are already taking, consider possible drug-nutrient interactions, lab test results, as well as genomic information when choosing which supplements and amounts would be the safest and most beneficial for you.

Vitamin D32,000 IU-5,000 IU daily Enhances immunity, reduces viral growth, reduces upper respiratory infections
Vitamin C w/ bioflavonoids 500 mg -3 grams, in divided doses daily Supports immune defenses, protects against vulnerability to infection
Vitamin A10,000 IU -25,000 IU daily
(high doses not recommended during pregnancy or lactation)
Anti-inflammatory, enhances immune function, supports the lining of the respiratory tract
Zinc30-60 mg, in divided doses daily Supports immune function, strong anti-viral properties
Quercetin1,000 mg twice daily Shown to decrease viral growth, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory
Curcumin500-1,000 mg twice daily Anti-inflammatory, shown to decrease viral activity
Melatonin5-20 mg taken at bedtimePromotes restful sleep, reduces inflammation, antioxidant
Elderberry500 mg daily Rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, inhibits viral replication and attachment
N-Acetylcysteine (NAC)600-900 mg twice daily Promotes glutathione production, reduces oxidative stress
Green Tea (EGCG)4 cups of green tea or 225 mg of EGCG daily Reduces inflammation, enhances immune function
Resveratrol100-150 mg twice dailyAntioxidant, anti-inflammatory

At Village Green Apothecary, our pharmacists, naturopaths, nutritionists, and nutrition educators are available to provide personalized support and guidance. We offer a variety of nutrition services including telehealth nutrition counseling appointments. We carry thousands of high quality supplements, including practitioner brands and hard-to-find products. We remain open during regular business hours and offer curbside pick-up and a variety of shipping options.

ALSO: Here is a link to listen to a fascinating discussion about COVID-19 and how biochemical individuality and genetic predispositions may relate to increased risk, prevention and treatment, from our Essentials of Healthy Living radio show on April 12, 2020, featuring genetics expert Dr. Christy Williamson, interviewed by Dana Laake. Stay tuned for upcoming shows on COVID-19 and other interesting health topics!

This information is not meant to make any claims regarding preventing or treating COVID-19. Always consult your physician or healthcare provider prior to starting any new nutritional regimen. If you feel sick, contact your health professional. For up-to-date information on COVID-19, please consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov.

Photo from here, with thanks.

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January 2023