Updated: Sep 15, 2020
With the coronavirus spreading in the world, we all learn how important it is to protect ourselves against infections. Healthy habits and behaviours are essential to avoid being contaminated, but also to strengthen our body in case we get in contact with the virus, despite the precaution we take.
Our immune system is our main barrier against infection and reinforcing it when we are healthy helps bring a better response in case we are in contact with a virus. Some supplements have been shown to help protecting ourselves against infection.
Many studies have shown a real benefit of vitamin C to prevent common cold and pneumonary infections. (1) While it is still discussed which dosage can be efficient, taking at 1g/day is the minimum dosage to keep ourselves healthy. Vitamin C supplements are easy to find, cheap, and taken regularly seems to have a real positive effect to prevent infection.
Synbiotics : Probiotics + Prebiotics
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast that are similar to the one we have in our digestive track. With stress and pollution our intestinal microbial flora is often weaken, leaving some space for harmful germs to develop. Probiotics help restore a healthy gut which is essential to our health. Research have proven now how our intestinal microbial flora is interacting with our immune system.
Prebiotics are fibres and food for the intestinal bacteria. Recently research have evaluate the efficiency of using both together, and synbiotic seems to have a beneficial effect in preventing pulmonary infection. (2)
Vitamin D supplementation has been studied for years in case of infection. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin we are producing mainly from our skin exposed to the sunlight. It is not found in big quantities in our food.
Vitamin D supplementation can range from 400 IU to 800 IU daily for adults under age 50, and 800 IU to 1000 IU daily for older adults. (3)
Zinc has been studied for years and found essential to our immune system during infection. A deficit in Zinc is not uncommon and taken a supplement while being healthy can help cover an unknown deficiency that weaken your immune system. Supplements contain several forms of zinc, including zinc gluconate, zinc sulfate, and zinc acetate. Research has not determined whether differences exist among forms of zinc in term of absorption, bioavailability, or tolerability.
Elderberry is a flower plant that has been used for generations to prevent and treat cold flu due to influenzae. It is available in supplement or juice. Around 1g/2g or 15ml of juice per day is recommended. (6)
Also called Coneflower, they are found in Central and North America and are part of the Daisy family. Used for years to prevent the common cold and flu, much research is being done to better understand its action during infection. (7)
1. Vitamin C and Infections by Harri Hemilä
2. Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki FI-00014, Finland Nutrients 2017, 9(4), 339; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9040339
3. Preventing Respiratory Tract Infections by Synbiotic Interventions: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Chan CKY, Tao J, Chan OS, Li HB, Pan H, Adv Nut. 2020 Jan 29.
4. Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data BMJ 2017; 356 https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i6583 (Published 15 February 2017)
5. Zinc in Infection and Inflammation
Nour Zahi Gammoh and Lothar Rink, Nutrients. 2017 Jun; 9(6): 624.
Published online 2017 Jun 17. doi: 10.3390/nu9060624
6. Elderberry compounds could help minimize flu symptoms, study suggests. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190423133644.htm
7. Echinacea. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/echinacea/ataglance.htm