With a flu season that is compounded by the effects of Covid-19, many people are looking for supplements that can help support their immune system to either help prevent or help fight infection. We have a selection of some of the most common supplements to consider, but also note that at DNAfit, we always encourage prioritising natural food sources before opting for supplements. So, opt for a healthy, balanced diet to provide your body with the minerals and vitamins it needs.
It’s also critical to note that you should always consult your healthcare provider about what is best because there is no one-size-fits-all, and some supplements can interact with prescription or over-the-counter medications you’re taking. Some may not even be appropriate for people with certain health conditions. Meanwhile, other people may have difficulty absorbing the vitamins they need for the body to function, so they might require supplements to help support immune function.
There is a variety of supplements available on the market today:
Vitamin D is essential to the health and functioning of your immune system, with research showing that low vitamin D levels can increase the risk of upper respiratory tract infections, including influenza and allergic asthma. Urging that taking some vitamin D supplements can improve your immune response while protecting you against respiratory tract infections.
While vitamin D is important every winter, it has been given extra attention during the pandemic. Some research has suggested that a vitamin D deficiency may be linked with poorer outcomes in severe cases, however, note that there is no evidence to support using vitamin D to prevent or treat the virus. So, in addition to supplementing this winter, why not also add some "tanned mushrooms" to your diet? Whenever the weather is clear, leave your mushrooms to sun-tan before cooking them for an extra vitamin D boost. Similarly to how our skin produces vitamin D under the ultraviolet light of the sun's rays, mushrooms can do the same. In fact, when button mushrooms are exposed to midday sunlight for 15 minutes - 2 hours (depending on the weather), they can generate up to 10 mcg of vitamin D2 - so experiment with that as an option as well.
This is an essential mineral that can be found in many different products - it is favoured for its capacity to support immune system function. Studies support zinc’s role in maintaining a healthy immune system, and may play a role in protecting against infections. Interestingly, some studies have found that zinc lozenges specifically may help protect against respiratory infections like the common cold and reduce the duration of symptoms when one gets a cold - this means that the effect of the zinc would be centered around the mouth and throat.
Zinc deficiency usually causes:
- Poor growth in children
- Loss of appetite
- Impaired immune function
- Hair loss, diarrhoea and skin abnormalities in severe cases
- Taste abnormalities, and fatigue can also occur
Supplementing with zinc is sometimes advised for healthy adults, provided your daily dose doesn't surpass 40 mg of elemental zinc (but we always advise consulting your doctor before taking any supplements). Those looking to get their zinc from food sources (which is encouraged), look at eating more nuts, seeds, legumes, meat, whole-grains, seafood, and dairy. How you get the zinc into your system isn’t important, it's just about getting enough of it for immune function because our bodies need it but don’t naturally produce nor store it.
Did you know that vitamin C is a common nutrient that is found in many foods that we eat daily without the need for supplements? It is well known as a nutrient that can help support the immune system, and while it has not been shown to prevent disease, a study has found that it may reduce the duration and severity of symptoms for common colds and flu in some adults and children. Like zinc, it also plays an important role in supporting healthy tissue growth and wound healing. Vitamin C also plays a role in preventing iron deficiency in vegetarians by supporting iron absorption from plant-based foods.
It can be found in food sources such as:
- Bell peppers
- Citrus fruits like oranges
As a water-soluble vitamin that is easily eliminated through urination, it needs to be consumed daily to feel its effects because it doesn’t get stored in the body. The average person needs around 90mg of vitamin C per day to maintain healthy tissues, fight oxidation and support a strong immune system.
Vitamin B complex is made up of eight B vitamins (including B12 and B6) are regarded as essential vitamins that are vital to living a healthy life. They are necessary for overall bodily function and maintaining a healthy immune response. They impact things like brain function, energy levels, cell metabolism, heart health, proper nerve function, hormones, digestion, DNA production and many other aspects.
A deficiency can increase your risks of developing infections, skin conditions, and anaemia and can affect digestive tissues, your nervous system, and your liver.
Luckily, they are commonly found in many food sources like:
- Cabbage family
- Dairy products
There are plenty of other health benefits to consuming the right amount of B complex vitamins you need. You just need to sustain a healthy, balanced diet with a range of food options to get all the B vitamins you need.
It's important to emphasise that no vitamins or minerals have been proven to prevent or protect against Covid-19.
But we can provide you with the tools to understand which nutrients you need more of based on your genetic makeup - you can look into Diet Fit for something more affordable or Health Fit for a product that can empower you with a more holistic approach to health and wellness. Buy one of our products so you can start eating your way to happier and healthier you.