Dietary supplements could be an important weapon to fight COVID-19

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In a new paper, researchers say that supplements containing vitamins C and D and other micronutrients, sometimes in amounts exceeding the federally recommended levels, are a safe, effective, and low-cost means of helping your immune system fight off COVID-19 and other acute respiratory tract diseases.

They say public health officials should issue nutritional recommendations to complement messages about the role of handwashing and vaccinations in preventing the spread of infections.

The research was conducted by Oregon State University and elsewhere.

Around the world, acute respiratory tract infections kill more than 2.5 million people every year.

Meanwhile, there’s a wealth of data that shows the role that good nutrition plays in supporting the immune system.

Specific vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids have key jobs to play in helping your immune system.

In particular vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish, docosahexaenoic acid, also known as DHA, are critical for immune function.

The roles that vitamins C and D play in immunity are particularly well known.

Vitamin C has roles in several aspects of immunity, including the growth and function of immune cells and antibody production.

Vitamin D receptors on immune cells also affect their function. This means that vitamin D profoundly influences your response to infections.

The problem is that people simply aren’t eating enough of these nutrients. This could destroy their resistance to infections.

That’s why the researchers are urging not only a daily multivitamin, but doses of 200 milligrams or more of vitamin C (higher than the suggested federal guidelines of 75 milligrams for men and 50 for women) and 2,000 international units of vitamin D, rather than the 400 to 800 recommended depending on age.

There is no doubt that vaccines, when available, can be effective, but they’re not foolproof.

The team emphasizes that current public health practices – stressing social distancing, hygiene, and vaccinations – are important and effective but in need of complementary strategies.

A nutritional focus on the immune system could help minimize the impact of many kinds of infections.

The study is published in the journal Nutrients.

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