Should I take supplements to fight off coronavirus?

COVID-19 | LOCAL PROFESSIONAL ADVICE

Dr Alexandra Bernhardi

Health Columnist

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To be perfectly clear - there is no single supplement you can take to avoid contracting coronavirus or any other virus.

So, for right now, to stay at home and practice social distancing and adequate hygiene, is extremely important.

However, there is no dispute about the fact that people with a weak immune system will suffer more severe symptoms should they contract coronavirus.

Therefore, keeping your immune system healthy year round is key to preventing serious complications.

Your immune system is a complex function of interconnecting networks that is constantly defending your body against invading pathogens.

While vitamins and minerals play a significant part in this process the immune system is much more complicated and heavily relies on making healthy lifestyle choices in general.

Healthy lifestyle choices include:

  • Consuming nutritious foods (fresh and unprocessed wholefood)
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Regular, moderate exercise
  • Avoidance of toxins such as alcohol, smoking, chemicals.

Luckily, none of the social distancing rules that we need to stick to for now, is preventing us from making these healthy choices.

Having said this, a couple of more intensely studied vitamins and minerals should be mentioned as key players in the immune system and they include (but not limited to):

  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc
  • The group of B vitamins
  • Vitamin C

Some people might have suboptimal levels (esp. Vit B and D as well as zinc) due to either problems with absorption or they might have a higher demand, making it difficult to maintain levels through a healthy diet alone. But be careful, more of a good thing can also be harmful.

You should therefore always discuss your specific need with your GP who can then advise on the most appropriate way of supplementation.

In addition there are some herbs and extracts that show some benefit to temporarily boost immunity and might help to alleviate symptoms - these include garlic, curcumin, echinacea, astragalus and elderberry. However, caution needs to be applied as some supplements might interfere with regular medication.

And again, please keep in mind, nothing can beat a healthy and sustained lifestyle.


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