Health officials in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties have begun vaccinations against COVID-19. In many areas, appointments for people aged 65 and over are full and waiting lists are being compiled.
Most of the mainstream health community is in agreement that the vaccine offers a better chance than uptown pokies do to defeat the coronavirus. However, health care professionals also agree that there are things that people can do to strengthen their immune systems to help them fight off the virus. In tandem with the vaccine, they say, the population will be able to achieve herd immunity and return to a normal way of life.
What can individuals do to battle the virus using readily-available, easily-accessible herbs, vitamins and supplements?
Vitamin A (Beta Carotene)
Vitamin A hasn’t been specifically linked to fighting COVID-19 but it is known to help boost the health of your respiratory system, one of the systems that is often adversely affected by COVID. Vitamin A helps to support the body in fighting infections, specifically with respiratory infections. Foods rich in vitamin A include cantaloupe , spinach, chard, broccoli, sweet potato, carrots squash, papayas, mangos and yellow maize.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Vitamin B3 has been shown to help the immune system reduce damage and inflammation to the lungs. If you take a supplement, consult with your doctor because too much vitamin B3 can have detrimental effects on your health. Foods high in Vitamin B3 include meat, fish, chicken beans, legumes, grains and nuts.
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that keeps the leukocytes – a type of white blood cells healthy. This helps the body form the antibodies that are critical to immune-cell function. With COVId-19, lung injuries seem to be caused by a build-up of free radicals that causes oxidative stress. Vitamin C can speed the process of neutralizing these free radicals which then reduces oxidative damage to the lungs. Vitamin C supplements are recommended as well as consuming foods rich in vitamin C. These foods include citrus fruits and vegetables (tomatos, red peppers, strawberries, oranges, grapefruit and strawberries among others.)
Several recent studies have examined the impact of vitamin D on COVID-19. One study found that a higher proportion of people who experienced acute respiratory failure after a diagnosis of COVID-19 were deficient in vitamin D. Another, smaller study, found that, when administering a high dose of calcifediol, a type of vitamin D, patients in the intensive care unit needed less care than those who did not receive the calcifediol. Researchers speculate that as a pathogen-fighting aid to macrophages and monocytes, Vitamin D decreases inflammation which promotes immune response. Doctors have long known that individuals who are deficient in vitamin D levels experience higher risks of upper respiratory tract infections. .
Proponents of vitamin D as an immune system builder suggest taking anywhere from 1,000 and 4,000 IU of supplemental vitamin D each day. Few foods contain vitamin D naturally though some foods are fortified with the vitamin. They include cod liver oil, salmon, tuna fish, dairy products, sardines, beef liver and orange juice. Direct sunlight is also a god source of vitamin D though getting enough vitamin D through sunlight is dependent on the amount of time that the individual spends outside and the strength of the sunlight in the area of the world in which that individual lives.
Minerals and Nutrients
Zinc is a mineral that’s found in your body’s cells. Zinc facilitates the normal development and functioning of the immune’s system’s cells. There have been studies that show that, by boosting your zinc level, you inhibit the replication of viruses such as the SARS-coronavirus and the poliovirus. Studies have suggested that zinc supplements reduce the risk of death from pneumonia and might actually aid in preventing the COVID-19 virus from entering the body. In addition, it might help to slow the virus’s replication if someone does get sick.
Many health care professionals suggest taking a daily zinc supplement of 40 mg or less. If you have too much zinc in your system you may experience vomiting, loss of appetite, nausea, stomach cramps, headaches and diarrhea. Too much zinc can lead to lower immunity, low levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) and low copper levels. Zinc is also found naturally in whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals, some seafoods and dairy products.
Selenium, which can be found in Brazil Nuts, is a key nutrients for healthy immune function. It’s an antioxidant which works to strengthen the body’s defenses against viruses and cancer bacteria.
Raw honey has antioxidant properties. It is good for relieving inflammation and minor pain of mucus membranes such as those in the mouth and the nose. You can add honey to hot tea or water with lemon or put an onion in the honey for a few hours and drink the mixture (there’s an old folk remedy that says immersing an onion in honey and drinking the liquid is an effective remedy for bacterial infection. Can’t hurt….)
Garlic in any form – fresh, in supplement form, cooked, boiled, fried as an extract – is believed to help reduce inflammations and reduce the severity of viral respiratory infections Garlic is an antioxidant. It’s suggested that you cut the garlic cloves and leave them to sit for 10 minutes in order to release the allicin compound before you cook them or add them to a dish (or eat them raw).
By supporting gut health, probiotics can impact on the function and regulation of the immune system which can then help to prevent respiratory infection. Foods that are rich in probiotics include sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, miso, pickles, kimchi, tempeh, some cheeses and sourdough bread. Some yogurts have probiotics added to them.
Shitake, Lion’s Mane, maitake and Reishi mushrooms aid in immune function.
Elderberry may have properties that help fight viruses. You can take a supplement or find an elderberry tea.
Other Immune Building Activities
To keep your immune system strong and functioning, be sure to get enough sleep, exercise, keep your weight at a healthy level, don’t smoke and limit your alcohol intake. Keeping your stress level low also impacts positively on your immune system – if you find that your stress levels are high, try meditating, connecting with friends and family and taking up a hobby.