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May 25, 2020

COVID-19 has taken the world by storm. It has derailed economies, taken far too many lives, and generated a staggering amount of anxiety and uncertainty. We are left with limited means to change the course of the disease for now, and that’s a tough feeling—especially in this age where we are used to being able to engineer so many outcomes.

What we can change, however, is the way we direct our lives. We can take the right precautions in terms of hand washing, mask wearing, social distancing, and staying at home when we don’t feel well. We can get enough sleep and exercise.

We can eat whole grains and fruits and vegetables and stay away from the overly processed stuff that fills us up without fortifying us. And, where needed, we can take good supplements to fill in the blanks left by our diet and give us things we need more of as we age.

What we know about high quality supplements is that they can improve our immune response, and that is a big part of resisting illness. The question is, what is most helpful in bolstering our immune response?

We’d like to share our top 7 recommendations:

1. Zinc — This mineral is found in some foods (including oysters, beef, dark chocolate and legumes) and added to others. It is critical for immune system function. Too little of this key mineral can leave you vulnerable to infections and disease, and yet, as important as it is, many people are deficient in zinc. An Oregon State University study showed that about 12 percent of the general population and 40 percent of the elderly population are at risk for a zinc deficiency.

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2. Selenium — Selenium is a mineral that’s essential for immune health. It acts as a powerful antioxidant, neutralizing free radicals and keeping them from harming healthy cells.

Increased levels of selenium in the blood have been shown to coordinate with enhanced immune response. An effective immune response allows your body to fight off bacteria and viruses. Animal research demonstrates that selenium supplements may bolster the body’s anti-viral defence—even protecting it from certain strains of the flu.

As a bonus, selenium has also been associated with a healthy thyroid (which contributes to a strong metabolism). Studies also show that it plays a role in warding off cancer, heart disease and mental decline.

Like zinc, selenium is common in oysters. It can also be found in Brazil nuts, halibut, tuna, eggs, chicken and sunflower seeds. Just don’t exceed your daily dose (400 mcg per day) as then you could enter the toxic zone.

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3. Vitamin D — Vitamin D can fortify your white blood cells so they are better equipped to fight off bacteria and viruses. Low levels of vitamin D are linked to respiratory diseases such as flu and allergy-induced asthma.

Fatty fishes, such as salmon and tuna, are good sources of vitamin D, but it’s not naturally occurring in many other foods—at least not in significant quantities. Most of our vitamin D comes from foods that are fortified with it (such as milk), but many Australians take it in supplement form to get enough.

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4. Vitamin C — Remember when Mum used to tell you to drink your orange juice? It’s because it’s high in vitamin C, which might be the most popular immune-boosting supplement on the market. In a nutshell, it supports immune cells in their efforts to fight off infection. It also helps “take out the trash” in your immune system, clearing out old cells to make room for new ones.

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, which means that it decreases damage done to your body by free radicals—reactive molecules that your body makes in response to environmental stresses.

Vitamin C has been shown to decrease risks for catching a cold and to shorten the duration of colds. It has even been found to decrease symptoms for people dealing with extreme infections from viruses (including sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome) when given intravenously in high doses.

As mentioned above, oranges are great sources of vitamin C, and so are vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and red, green, and yellow peppers. Fruits such as cantaloupe, kiwi, papaya, and strawberries are also rich in vitamin C.

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5. Vitamin A — If you’re very susceptible to infection, you might be deficient in vitamin A. A vitamin A deficiency can leave people vulnerable to gastrointestinal and lung infections in particular.

There is a rising body of research to support vitamin A’s effect on immune tolerance across the entire gut lining. Immune intolerance can lead to many different illnesses, and a lot of tolerance is lost in the gut region.

Vitamin A is found in cod liver oil (available in capsule form because it’s no fun to drink), eggs, fortified cereals, sweet potatoes, dark green leafy veggies (broccoli, spinach, etc.) and milk.

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6. Astaxanthin — This is an antioxidant carotenoid. This term may sound really fancy, but it’s basically a red, yellow or orange pigment that colours fruits and vegetables (think squash, carrots and apricots) and acts as antioxidants in humans. Researchers have found that astaxanthin can help lower oxidative stress and inflammation and enhance immune response.

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7. Astragalus  You may not have heard of astragalus, but it’s a big name in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Animal research has linked it to immune strength and anti-inflammatory effects. There are thousands of species of astragalus, but only two are commonly used in herbal supplements.

In this time of uncertainty, we urge you to focus on the aspects of your health that you can control. Stay active, stay safe by adhering to COVID-19 safety precautions, and keep your body fueled with healthy food and natural supplements that can keep your immune system in tip-top shape.

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Disclaimer: The health information published on this web page is solely intended for educational purposes. VitaminsOnly strongly recommends to consult health care professionals for any questions concerning your health.


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