Since this Coronavirus pandemic has come upon us, things have been a bit chaotic and it’s been a long time that I had the chance to write. Like many others, I’m still working in a hospital setting and dealing with the crisis. But more than ever now – I want to be there for you. In this case, I feel obligated to write about 6 supplements that I’m currently taking to boost my immune system for the Coronavirus.
These have really helped me over the years by preventing/easing colds and the flu. I hope they can help me now, and that I can continue working without getting sick. I don’t think these supplements will prevent me from getting Coronavirus, but they may help boost my immune system enough to help me fight it if/when I do get sick.
Please click on the following link from the CDC for the most up-to-date information to best protect yourself from the Coronavirus.
1. Rhodiola Rosea the Powerful Adoptogen
I have been taking Rhodiola for about 15 years now, and it has never failed me. This is my “go to” in times of stress, and this is everyday for most of us! Rhodiola is a medical plant (also sometimes called Arctic Root or Golden Root) and is considered to be an adoptogen. Adoptogens are substances that increase the body’s overall resistance to physical, chemical and biological causes of stress and help to balance the body’s functions (1).
Rhodiola is a very special herb, and in fact, it was a Soviet military secret! After World War ll, Russian researchers investigated its potential for enhancing the performance of Russian soldiers and athletes (2). During the Cold War, they were convinced that the herb could give Russian soldiers a competitive edge. This is where they discovered that it enhanced soldiers endurance, strength, immunity, and quickened recovery time from illness.
Luckily, Rhodiola has made it’s way to western society and now we too can reap the benefits of what this amazing plant can offer. I take this herb every time I work and have found that it helps me fight fatigue especially on those 12-16 hour days. Also, over the years it helped me with depression and anxiety.
- Strengthens the nervous system
- Fights depression
- Enhances immunity
- Increases energy and fights fatigue
- Improves athletic performance
- Stimulates Memory
My picks: Gaia Herbs Rhodiola Rosea liquid capsules. I trust Gaia Herbs and it seems that Rhodiola in liquid form may be more bio-available.
2. Vitamin C the Super Immune Booster
In addition vitamin C was found to have antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic, and antifungal properties. It has been used as an adjunct treatment to combat of human infections by multidrug-resistant species such as Anti-Helicobacter, Anti-Salmonella, Anti-Campylobacter (4). Supplementation with this vitamin has also been shown to shorten recovery time.
Vitamins C neutralizes free radical damage and has documented antioxidant properties against stress. Studies have shown that stress from illness, psychological stressors, or even exercise can deplete vitamin C (5, 6).
- Boosts the immune system
- Adjunct treatment to combat infections by bacteria
- Antioxidant properties against stress
- Neutralizes free radical damage
My picks: Dr. Mercola Liposomal Vitamin C: Dr Mercola products are the best and I trust his brand of products. He was one of the first to make Liposomal Vitmani c, sometimes his supplements have been sold out due to high demand. Below is a link to his brand on Amazon, if still available.
3. Zinc the Amazing Micronutrient
One of zinc’s most researched benefits is immunity! Zinc is an essential micronutrient that is critical to almost every aspect of your health. when I feel something coming on – I pop a zinc capsule. Research published in 2013 revealed that taking zinc supplements within the first 24 hours of the onset of a cold resulted in symptoms disappearing significantly faster (7).
Taking zinc over a period of several months may reduce your chances of getting sick with the cold or flu. A 2011 meta-analysis of 13 placebo-controlled trials found that zinc supplements can be used to reduce the duration and severity of a cold (8). There is also evidence that if you start supplementing with zinc after becoming sick, it can help speed up the healing process.
Zinc can help reduce inflammation and can help fight oxidative stress. It may decrease the chance for disease development and has been used as an adjunct to cancer treatment. Further, low zinc levels have been associated with systemic inflammation, a condition that’s linked with everything from heart disease to cancer (9).
- Increases immunity
- May decrease severity and duration of a cold
- Antioxidant properties
- Anti-inflammatory benefits
- Fights oxidative stress
My picks: Jarrow Formulas Zinc Balance, this another company that I really like and trust.
4. Magnesium the Powerhouse of 300 Functions
Magnesium gives me a better night’s rest, calms me down when I’m about to have a “stress episode” at work, and helps me chill out after I read all the stressful news articles. I started taking magnesium everyday at night and I realized that it also helped me with work related anxiety. It almost feels like a prescription medication, as I am now dealing with difficult situations in a calmer manner.
Magnesium is one of the most important micronutrients and a vital co-factor to over 300 enzyme functions. Magnesium is used to create “energy” in your body by activating adenosine triphosphate, also known as ATP It helps our body to maintain balance, avoid illness, and perform well under stress. Further, low magnesium is one of the leading nutrient deficiencies in adults.
Several studies have shown that magnesium could alleviate symptoms of asthma (10). Supplementation of magnesium appears to improve subjects insomnia such as early morning awakening and objective measures such as concentration of serum melatonin, and serum cortisol, in elderly people (11).
Basically, if you are sleeping better and less stressed out, you are boosting your immune system!
- May alleviate symptoms of asthma
- Helps Increase Energy
- Calms Nerves and Anxiety
- Treats Insomnia
My Picks: Life Extension Magnesium 500mg. There are actually a lot of great magnesium brands out there, but I like this one because it has 4 different magnesium types and only one pill to swallow!
5. Vitamin D3 the Sunshine Nutrient
I take vitamin D3 year round as living in a very northern climate of Montreal, I’m getting true sun exposure for only 5 months of the year. Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because your body produces vitamin D naturally when it’s directly exposed to sunlight, you can also get it through certain foods and supplements.
Vitamin D helps our immune systems during the cold and flu season. In 2017, reviews of clinical trials showed that taking vitamin D reduces the chances of developing a respiratory infection by approximately 42% (12). Low vitamin D levels have also been associated with frequent colds and influenza (13). Research has also shown that Vitamin D can fight cardiovascular disease, help with diabetes, reduce depression, and reduce risk of cancer.
- Boosts Immune System
- May fight cardiovascular disease
- Reduces depression and anxiety
- Decreases Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes
- Reduces Risk Of Cancer
My picks: Sports Research K2+D3 with Organic Coconut Oil for Better Absorption. I also like the added vitamin K.
6. Probiotics the Friendly Gut Bacteria
I take these little friends everyday in hopes of populating my gut with “friendly” bacteria.
Probiotics are live bacteria in your digestive tract that stimulate the immune system, support your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, and fight infection. The good bacteria maintain and strengthen the gastrointestinal tract and helps overall health. By consuming probiotics to maintain the balance of good and bad bacteria within your gastrointestinal system, you can actually improve the strength of your immune system. Probiotics have aslo been used as a safe and natural strategy for allergy prevention and treatment (14).
- Improves Gut Health
- Boosts Immunity
- Helps with Clostridium difficile disease
- Used in treatment of Gastroenteritis
- Improves Irritable bowel syndrome
My Picks: Dr. Formulated Probiotics Mood+ 50 billion. There are so many good probiotic brands out there, but I’ve been taking this one lately and I think it is helping me to feel better.
Please check with your doctor before taking any supplements. I am not associated with any of the supplement companies listed.
3. Hong JM, Kim JH, Kang JS, Lee WJ, Hwang YI Anat Cell Biol. 2016 Jun; 49(2):88-98.
4. Mousavi, Soraya et al. “Immunomodulatory and Antimicrobial Effects of Vitamin C.” European journal of microbiology & immunology vol. 9,3 73-79. 16 Aug. 2019, doi:10.1556/1886.2019.00016
5. Batista, Gabriel & Rocha, Helena & Storch, Amanda & Garcia, Vinicius & Nobrega, Antonio & Rocha, Natália. (2020). Ascorbic acid inhibits vascular remodeling induced by mental stress in overweight/obese men. Life sciences. 10.1016/j.lfs.2020.117554.
6. Righi, Natiele & Schuch, Felipe & Nardi, Angélica & Pippi, Caroline & Righi, Geovana & Puntel, Gustavo & Silva, Antônio & Signori, Luis. (2020). Effects of vitamin C on oxidative stress, inflammation, muscle soreness, and strength following acute exercise: meta-analyses of randomized clinical trials. European Journal of Nutrition. 10.1007/s00394-020-02215-2.
7. Singh, Meenu & Das, Rashmi. (2015). Zinc for the common cold. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews. 4. CD001364. 10.1002/14651858.CD001364.pub5.
8. Rao, Goutham, and Kate Rowland. “PURLs: Zinc for the common cold–not if, but when.” The Journal of family practice vol. 60,11 (2011): 669-71.
9. Wong, Carmen & Ho, Emily. (2012). Zinc and its role in age-related inflammation and immune dysfunction. Molecular nutrition & food research. 56. 77-87. 10.1002/mnfr.201100511.
10. Tam, Miguel & Gomez, Sahira & González-Gross, M & Marcos, A. (2003). Possible roles of magnesium on the immune system. European journal of clinical nutrition. 57. 1193-7. 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601689.
11. Abbasi, Behnood & Kimiagar, Masud & Sadeghniiat, Khosro & Shirazi, Minoo & Hedayati, Mehdi & Rashidkhani, Bahram. (2012). The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Journal of research in medical sciences : the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences. 17. 1161-9.
12. Martineau AR, Jolliffe DA, Hooper RL, et al. Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. BMJ. 2017-;356:i6583.
13. National Institutes of Health. Low Vitamin D Levels Associated with Colds and Flu. NIH website. Published March 9, 2009. Accessed September 14, 2019 https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/low-vitamin-d-levels-associated-colds-flu
14. Maldonado Galdeano, Carolina & Cazorla, Silvia Inés & Lemme Dumit, José María & Vélez, Eva & Perdigón, Gabriela. (2019). Beneficial Effects of Probiotic Consumption on the Immune System. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism. 74. 115-124. 10.1159/000496426.
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