Covid-19 or Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections has become a worldwide health issue. The majority of patients suffers from mild symptoms and doesn’t even need hospitalization. But patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and other complications require critical care.
Since the novel coronavirus is new, there is currently little evidence to suggest that any treatment is effective against the virus. Scientists around the world are working to find and develop treatments for this deadly virus.
Due to the lack of effective treatments against SARS-CoV-2, the main strategies to deal with the virus are only supportive as well as preventive to reduce transmission in the community.
Most people are relying on preventive measures, while some have turned to alternative remedies and supplements to reduce their risk and to relieve the infection.
As a preventive measure, the present situation is a great time to start boosting your immune system, which is the first line of defence against this viral infection.
The main function of the immune system is to protect your body from various infections. In the case of a weak immune system, the person is more susceptible to infections and other health problems.
Dietary supplementation of some vitamins and nutrients plays an important role in the normal functioning of the body’s immune system.
Researchers are investigating doses of vitamin C, vitamin D and Zinc to treat and fight against Covid-19. Clinical trials are going on, which will help to make clear the role of these nutrients for COVID-19 management.
However, recent studies show that adequate intake of vitamins C, vitamin D and Zinc may optimize your immune system to prevent or lower the risk or severity of Covid-19 infection.
This article explains how vitamin C, vitamin D and Zinc affect the immune system and how supplementing with these nutrients may help protect against respiratory conditions. Here you will also find food sources and daily dietary requirements of these nutrients.
Vitamin C and Covid-19
Vitamin C, also known as Ascorbic Acid, is an essential vitamin for boosting your immunity. It plays an important role in the normal functioning of the immune system and helps the body to absorb iron.
In addition, as an antioxidant, vitamin C prevents cell damage resulting from exposure to toxins and pollutants (eg cigarette smoke).
Vitamin C is widely known for its health beneficial effect in the prevention and relief of the common cold. Regular supplementation (1 to 2 g/day) of vitamin C reduces the duration and severity of cold symptoms. Studies show that in adults the duration of colds reduces by 8% and in children by 14%.
Studies also suggest that combining vitamin C and zinc may limit the duration and severity of cold symptoms. It reduces the severity of pneumonia in critically ill patients.
A very recent study conducted on critical Covid-19 patients’ reports low levels of vitamin C and vitamin D in their blood serum. This appears to be major risk factors for mortality.
Another study shows that hospitalized elderly patients with acute respiratory infections, supplemented with 200 mg/day of vitamin C, shows a reduction in the disease severity.
A clinical trial reveals that oral or intravenous vitamin C reduces the length of stay in the intensive care unit (ICU) as well as the duration of mechanical ventilation.
Hence, doctors recommend taking vitamin C supplement daily that are at high risk for COVID-19 and at risk of vitamin C deficiency to fight against the infection and its severe progression.
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Daily Requirement of Vitamin C
The recommended daily amount of vitamin C is the amount you get from both foods and supplements you take. Here is the recommended dietary intake of vitamin C according to your age.
- 0-6 months: 40 mg
- 7-12 months: 50 mg
- 1-3 years: 15 mg
- 4-8 years: 25 mg
- 9-13 years: 45 mg
- 14-18 years (male): 75 mg
- 14-18 years (female): 65 mg
- 19+ years (male): 90 mg
- 19+ years (female): 75 mg
Smokers need 35mg/day more vitamin C than non-smokers.
Food Sources of Vitamin C
The animal sources are poor in vitamin C content and the level is usually 30-40 mg/100 g. Therefore plant sources become important because of high content of vitamin C up to 5,000 mg/100 g which include:
- Citrus fruits (Orange, Grapefruit, Kiwi)
- Green pepper
- Red pepper
- Brussels sprout
- Indian gooseberry
- Leafy vegetables (Cabbage, Cauliflower, Spinach)
- Green peas
You can get a sufficient amount of vitamin C from a healthy diet. For most people, an orange or a cup of strawberries, chopped red pepper, or broccoli provides enough vitamin C for the day.
Vitamin D and Covid-19
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a number of significant roles in your body. It is essential for the proper functioning of your immune system.
Vitamin D enhances the function of immune cells that protect your body against various infections.
Deficiency of vitamin D leads to an increased risk of respiratory diseases, including tuberculosis, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as viral and bacterial respiratory infections.
A recent study reveals that administration of vitamin D helps reduce the possibility of severity and death in hospitalized patients with COVID-19.
Another study reported that elderly patients with adequate levels of vitamin D are less likely to have adverse outcomes, including becoming unconscious, hypoxia, and death, as compared to vitamin D-deficient patients.
Moreover, some studies indicate that vitamin D supplements can boost immune response and protect your body against respiratory infections.
Therefore, it is recommended that intake of sufficient vitamin D may help common people as well as hospitalized patients to avoid morbidities and mortality associated with COVID-19.
Daily Requirement of Vitamin D
Here is the daily requirement of vitamin D according to your age…..
- 0-12 months: 10 mcg
- 1-13 years: 15 mcg
- 14-18 years: 15 mcg
- 19-50 years: 15 mcg
- 51-70 years: 15 mcg
- Above 70 years: 20 mcg
Food Sources of Vitamin D
Sunlight is the best and easiest way of getting enough vitamin D. So spend some time outside regularly, making sure that the arms, face, and legs have exposure.
Only a few foods are naturally rich in vitamin D while many foods and supplements are fortified with the vitamin. Some rich sources of vitamin D include:
- Cod liver oil
- Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna
- Egg yolks
- Beef liver
- Fortified milk
- Fortified cereals and juices
Zinc and Covid-19
Zinc is an essential micronutrient required for maintaining intestinal cells, bone growth, and your immune system. It is the main mineral for boosting immunity.
It has antiviral activities and improves immune cell function that counters viral infections or reduces the ability of viruses to multiply.
Several studies show that supplementation of zinc is helpful in reducing the risk of pneumonia and the common cold. It can lower the incidence of respiratory tract infection, specifically in the elderly and in children.
A number of studies confirm that regular zinc supplementation for more than three months may reduce the duration and severity of bronchiolitis and pneumonia.
Recent studies demonstrate that zinc supplementation may shorten the duration of common colds by approximately 33%. It can relieve the symptoms if you start taking zinc supplement within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms.
Zinc-deficient people are prone to increase respiratory and diarrheal morbidities. Worldwide, about 16% of lower respiratory tract infections occur due to zinc deficiency. Thus, it signifies that deficiency of zinc may increase the risk of Covid-19 infection and its progression.
Daily Requirement of Zinc
The daily requirement of zinc depends on yyour age. Here is the list for different ages.
- 0-6 months: 2 mg
- 7-12 months: 3 mg
- 1-3 years: 3 mg
- 4-8 years: 5 mg
- 9-13 years: 8 mg
- 14-18 years (male): 11 mg
- 14-18 years (female): 9 mg
- Adult (male): 11 mg
- Adult (female): 8 mg
Food Sources of Zinc
Animal foods are better sources of zinc than plant foods. Here are some rich sources of zinc..
- Red meat
- Legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans)
- Nuts (peanuts, cashews and almonds)
- Seeds (hemp, flax, pumpkin or squash seeds)
- Dairy Products (milk and cheese)
- Whole grains (wheat, rice, quinoa, and oats)
- Dark Chocolate
Fruits and vegetables are poor sources of zinc except potato, green beans and kale.
Vitamin C, Vitamin D and zinc plays many vital roles in boosting the immune system of your body.
Scientific research suggests that supplementing with these micronutrients may protect against respiratory infections, especially among those who are deficient in these micronutrients.
Recent research indicates that sufficient intake of vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc may help people to fight against COVID-19 adverse effects.
However, still researchers and doctors are studying whether taking these supplements reduces the risk of developing COVID-19.
Since there is currently little evidence to suggest that any treatment is effective against COVID-19, you should consult a doctor to discuss measures and protection from Covid-19 and its complications.
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