Covid-19 and the Role of Vitamin Supplements
PLEASE NOTE: It is critical to remember that no supplement, diet, or other lifestyle change can protect you against COVID-19. Physical separation, also known as social distancing, and appropriate hygiene practices are the only ways to protect yourself.
With the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, the focus has moved to strategies that improve the immune system strength.
To brace ourselves and strengthen our immunity, after identifying what deficiency our body lacks, supplements make for a great boost and companion to prevent infections.
The Immune System
Your immune system is a complex system of cells, processes, and substances that protects your body from invading pathogens such as viruses, poisons, and bacteria.
It's critical to keep your immune system healthy all year to avoid infection and sickness.
A well-balanced diet rich in Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K, as well as micro-nutrients like salt, zinc, potassium, chloride, calcium, and phosphorus, can assist to maintain overall health and improve the immune system, reducing infection risk.
A lack of vitamins and minerals in the plasma causes the immune system to work poorly, resulting in a weakened immune system. (1) The potential therapeutic role of Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K, as well as minerals such as immunity boosters in COVID-19 patients, is however still being investigated.
The most essential ways to strengthen your immune system are to make healthy lifestyle choices such as eating nutritious foods and getting adequate sleep and exercise.
Supplementing with specific vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other substances has also been found to enhance immune response and possibly protect against illness, according to research.
Covid 19 and Supplements
Despite the fact that COVID-19 is a novel disorder, scientific research has looked into whether supplements could help.
Calcium, Zinc, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D are essential vitamins that can help strengthen the immune system.
- Calcium is known to kill viruses in cells, and data reveal that COVID-19 patients with severe disease have lower calcium levels than those with less severe disease.
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant that has long been touted as an important component of a healthy immune system.
- Zinc may have antiviral properties, either through boosting immune cell function to combat viral infections or by inhibiting virus replication.
- Vitamin D is also known to boost the immune system and ease inflammation.
A few studies suggest that combining vitamin C and zinc may limit the duration and severity of cold symptoms.
Vitamin D and Covid-19
According to a recent study, people hospitalized with COVID-19 who had adequate Vitamin D levels had a lower chance of negative outcomes and death.
Low Vitamin D levels have been linked to an increased risk of TB, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as viral and bacterial respiratory infections.
Furthermore, Vitamin D insufficiency has been related to a reduction in lung function, which may impact your body's capacity to fight infections.
Vitamin D deficiency may enhance the “cytokine storm” as well as lead to a higher risk of pneumonia and viral upper respiratory tract infections. A cytokine storm refers to the uncontrolled release of pro-inflammatory cytokines that takes place in response to infection or other factors. This dysregulated and excessive release of cytokines leads to severe tissue damage and enhances disease progression and severity. In fact, it’s a major cause of multiple organ failure and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), as well as an important factor in the progression and severity of COVID-19. For example, patients with severe cases of COVID-19 have been shown to release large numbers of cytokines.
Thrombotic events are common in COVID-19, and vitamin D insufficiency is linked to an increase in them. Vitamin D insufficiency has been observed to be more common in obese and diabetic patients.
Vitamin D supplements were shown to be most helpful at protecting against acute respiratory infections (ARI) when taken in small doses daily or weekly, and less effective when taken in larger, more widely spaced doses. Vitamin D is a known natural immunoregulator that has been demonstrated to enhance antimicrobial activity against several pathogens including respiratory viruses.
The elderly particularly, are often deficient in Vitamin D and are at the highest risk of having major COVID-19-related problems. Their lifestyles don’t permit them to move out of their homes too often, and more so during the recent lockdowns during the Covid-19 outbreaks.
Supplementing with vitamin D has also been demonstrated to lower mortality in older persons, who are more susceptible to respiratory disorders like COVID-19.
Also, to be noted is that the Covid-19 outbreak occurred in winter when 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations are at their lowest. Further, the number of cases in the Southern Hemisphere near the end of summer are low; vitamin D deficiency has been linked to acute respiratory distress syndrome; and that case-fatality rates increase with age and with chronic disease comorbidity, both of which are associated with lower 25(OH)D concentration, especially among the elderly
Precautions when taken in excess
But there are significant hazards to consider too. These include side effects, allergic reactions, interactions with other drugs, the cost of unnecessary supplements, and the dangers of taking too much. For example:
- Vitamin C in high quantities can cause diarrhea and stomach distress. High-dose vitamin C supplementation has also been linked to possible interactions with blood thinners and cholesterol-lowering medicines.
- High amounts of vitamin D can produce serious side effects such as stomach distress, kidney damage, and pancreatitis, and can even be fatal.
Who Should Take Supplements?
Supplements should be taken by people who are nutritionally deficient.
Deficits in zinc or Vitamin D are common, and can contribute to the impaired immunological function.
As a result, even if there is no direct evidence that supplement administration leads to improvement in patients with COVID-19 insufficiency, these supplements may be beneficial for people who have a suspected or proven deficit.
If you do take supplements, unless your doctor suggests otherwise, it's best to stick to the daily suggested dosages your body requires.