Pandemic or no pandemic, it is always important to take great care of your health. Aside from protecting yourself from COVID-19, this is to also ward off other illnesses, especially during flu season this 2021. One way to do this is by taking the best immune system boosters available.
Do note that supplements do not cure or prevent COVID-19, but a stronger immune system is important as it may help with controlling symptoms and surviving the virus.
Vitamin D is among the four fat-soluble vitamins and the best immune booster vitamins that the body needs. Low levels of this vitamin can lead to an increased risk of infections and diseases. With anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties, it helps activate immune defenses. Additionally, it helps fight respiratory infections.
A recent study shows that a blood level of at least 30 ng/mL of 25-hydroxyvitamin D seemingly reduces the risk of severe outcomes in patients with COVID-19 symptoms. Vitamin D can be obtained through exposure to sunlight or from food like oily fish and red meat. Another way is by taking supplements.
Vitamin C or ascorbic acid aids in the growth, development and repair of body tissues. It is important in preventing infections. It has antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immunomodulating properties. When a person is subjected to physiological stress, decreased levels of Vitamin C are observed in the blood. It has been found that the risk of pneumonia is significantly reduced with Vitamin C supplementation.
B vitamins ensure the proper functioning of cells, aids metabolic reactions, helps in creating new red and white blood cells and maintain healthy cells (skin, brain and body tissues).
Vitamin B Complex has immense potential in protecting against COVID-19. It mediates in the proper activation of innate and adaptive immune responses, heightens respiratory functions, lowers pro-inflammatory cytokine levels and prevents too much blood clotting.
Andrographis is an herb that contains andrographolide which has been in consideration for use in drug development against COVID-19. It has antiviral properties against viruses that cause respiratory diseases like influenza A. Based on a study, Andrographis extract and andrographolide dose-dependently inhibited the replication of SARS-CoV-2, the viral agent that causes COVID-19.
Packed with antioxidants as well as vitamins that may help in boosting the immune system, elderberry is taken as a dietary supplement for colds and flu. Some studies have shown that elderberry may relieve flu symptoms and other respiratory infections.
Elderberries are better taken as supplements as opposed to eating the actual fruit. When not prepared properly or taken in large doses, it may cause side effects such as vomiting and nausea. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have allergies or taking medication, it is best to consult your doctor first before taking elderberry.
Zinc is a mineral that helps boost immune system function. It is essential for maintaining the health of your cardiovascular, reproductive and nervous systems. Zinc is found in meat, shellfish and nuts. Vegetarians may be at risk for Zinc deficiency as staple foods such as grains, legumes, seeds and tubers (potatoes, beets, carrots) contain phytates that reduce zinc absorption.
The mineral has antiviral effects and may shorten the duration of the common cold. Recent studies suggest that zinc has potentially protective properties against COVID-19 as it reduces inflammation and promotes antiviral immunity.
Since ancient times, mushrooms have been used to treat and prevent infection and disease. Medicinal mushrooms have been reviewed for their potential in improving the immune system. Mushrooms have many types – lion’s mane, shiitake, turkey tail and maitake are among those that have shown immune-boosting potential. Some types of mushrooms have also demonstrated antibacterial properties.
Laboratory findings show that glycyrrhizin in licorice has shown neutralizing effects on SARS-CoV-2 even at low concentrations. The active ingredient in licorice root has displayed antiviral effects against numerous viruses like HIV, herpes simplex virus and coronaviruses.
Echinacea supplements may help in alleviating symptoms of acute respiratory infections, as well as the common cold, given that it is taken in the early stages. Studies suggest that it may reduce the severity of acute respiratory infections. Results showed that it dampens the progression of cytokine storm and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), which factor in the death of COVID-19 patients. There are few reports of adverse reactions from its use. Therefore, it is considered typically safe.
Acai berry is a known antioxidant. It supports general health and immune function. CNN reported that a study by the constituents of the University of Toronto has linked Brazilian acai berry extract to the mitigation of severe inflammatory reactions in COVID-19 patients. It specifically targets NLRP3-mediated inflammation which activates the response against infection and stress.
Propolis is produced by honeybees. It has immune-enhancing properties and potential antiviral effects. Molecular simulations have shown that propolis may play a role in inhibiting viral spike fusion in host cells that trigger cytokine storms. Research has shown that hospitalized COVID-19 patients benefited from its use in terms of faster recovery and earlier discharge. More studies have to be conducted in order to establish its importance in fighting COVID-19.
Selenium is an element that takes organic and inorganic forms. Some chemical forms of this element may be harmful to humans. The medicinal properties of safe forms of selenium contribute to the improvement of immune health. Studies on animals suggest that selenium supplements may improve antiviral defense against some strains of influenza, like H1N1.