Vitamins C, D omega 3 fatty acids, zinc, iron, and selenium may be essential for immunity — a vital weapon in the fight against Covid-19 — and deficiency of these may make it difficult for the immune system to defend the body, a new study has found.
The US research has found that supplementing with vitamins C, D, omega 3 fatty acids, zinc, iron, and selenium are important for immunity and to help protect against viral illness such as respiratory tract infections — a common feature of Covid-19.
SA pharmacist and health expert, Giulia Criscuolo, says nutrient deficiencies open the door to viruses and endanger high-risk individuals.
Focussing on vitamins C and D, US researcher, Prof Adrian Gombart, said studies are “revealing and characterizing new pathways regulated by vitamin D and its receptor that may be essential for optimal immune function. Vitamin C is also involved in the production of antibodies, without which the body cannot keep Covid-19 in check.”
Fellow researcher, Isabelle Schiffer said high doses of vitamin C are being used to treat Covid-19 patients, adding: “…naturopathy cannot replace conventional medicine, but can complement it.”
Chairperson of the Health Products Association of Southern Africa (HPA), Maria Ascencao, said scores of studies backed the benefits of vitamin C and D on immunity, notably:
- A Chinese study of 50 “mid-serious” Covid-19 patients found that no patients who were treated with high doses of vitamin C were reported to have died.
- A study published in the scientific journal JAMA shows that administering vitamin C to intensive-care Covid-19 patients with lung damage reduced the risk of death by about 20%.
- A US study shows that vitamin D may help prevent the immune system from becoming dangerously overactive and protect Covid-19 patients against complications and death.
- A Japanese study shows that vitamin D supplementation may cut flu risk by up to 42% while UK research shows that it may cut by half the risk of respiratory infection.
- Studies also show that vitamin D may be as important as vitamin C for strengthening the immune system to fight flu and pneumonia.
- US research has shown vitamin D’s positive impact on immunity, including a study that found it to be a powerful immunoregulator.
- Research by the US National Institute of Health supports vitamin C’s role in supporting immunity and helping recover from illness.
Ascencao says that in addition to recommendations by the World Health Organisation to wash hands regularly and to practice social distancing, eating healthily, taking high-quality supplements, getting enough sleep, regular exercise, and managing stress are important for good health.