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Daily vitamins and supplements, can it fend off COVID-19?

Posted at 8:02 AM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-24 10:02:14-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — Do vitamins help fight coronavirus? Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve heard many different answer from many different sources.

“We do not know for sure, but we do know that being what we call replete in vitamin and minerals and certain other essential nutrients, does help each person who's replete have a healthier immune system,” said Dr. Lise Alschuler, ND and the associate director of UArizona’s fellowship in integrative medicine.

Being replete means your system is well equipped with the vitamin. But all-in-all, having a well orchestrated immune system is key to fighting off any infection.

“There’s still not very much clinical data specific to COVID-19. We're taking a lot of data from other upper respiratory tract infections and other viral infections and borrowing that data, essentially, to try to make a determination with COVID,” said Alschuler.

Alschuler says there are some studies that have pinpointed specific vitamins that may aid in fighting the infection. Topping the list - vitamin D; a critical player in how our immune cells defend themselves against viral infections that is also an anti-inflammatory. But also on that list - zinc and essential fatty acids like omega-3’s.

“We call them from fish nuts, seeds, these are also very important in terms of helping our immune system mount to healthy antiviral response. But where they really come in is in helping to regulate our inflammatory response. So we're again less likely, maybe to develop some of the more severe symptoms associated with the SARS-CV2 infection,” said Alschuler.

Before you start buying vitamins off the shelves and taking them, know that taking vitamins won’t give you that immune boost overnight. Alschuler says it may take up to two months before your body adapts to the added nutrients.

“We really should only supplement if we need it. If we’re not deficient, we don't need to supplement with it. If we are deficient, we can take it as a supplement and recheck and make sure that we have achieved what we need and then stop taking it or reduce the amount we're taking,” said Alschuler.

And lastly, she says supplementation should rest on a bedrock of a healthy lifestyle. In a perfect world, each person should be receiving the nutrients their body needs from a well-rounded diet, good rest and managing stress well.