Have you thought about your nutrient intake lately?
Just like social distancing, hand-washing, and staying home as much as possible, taking care of your immune system is extra important right now. Although there is a wealth of research showing that proper nutrition supports immune system functioning, many diets still fall short when it comes to getting the right amount of nutrients.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, four leading biomedical experts from around the world have published their recommendations for daily doses of nutrients to best support your immune system.
Keep in mind that proper nutrition doesn’t mean you have to rely on supplements, just be thoughtful about the foods you’re eating and their nutrient content. We have included some suggestions below to get you started.
A good multivitamin contains micronutrients like vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and folate, in addition to trace elements of zinc, iron, selenium, magnesium and copper. These micronutrients support the cells and tissues of your immune system. A deficiency in these nutrients can make you more susceptible to infection.
If you’re unsure which multivitamin to get, look for one that provides 100 percent of your daily value for the vitamins it includes. It’s also a good idea to make sure your multivitamin is USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia) certified. You can view the list of verified multivitamins on the USP website.
Taking at least 200 mg of vitamin C a day reduces the risk, severity, and duration of upper and lower respiratory tract infections. If you feel like you’re getting sick, the experts say you should increase your dosage to 1-2 grams per day, until you’re feeling better.
Everybody knows that oranges are a reliable source of vitamin C, but strawberries, lemons, broccoli, kale, sweet yellow peppers, and chili peppers are also great sources. Chili peppers actually have more vitamin C than oranges—crazy!
Vitamin D has also been shown to lower the risk of respiratory infections in children and adults, though the preventative effects were only seen in patients who took daily or weekly supplements. Loading up on vitamin D every once in a while won’t do much—it is best to incorporate it into your daily routine. The experts recommend taking 2000 IU every day for optimal immune system functioning.
Salmon, cod liver oil, tuna, egg yolks, and mushrooms are all high in vitamin D.
A deficiency in Zinc can negatively impact your immune response. The experts recommend a dose of 8-11 mg per day.
Seeds are a healthy addition to your diet, and an excellent source of zinc. Try incorporating hemp, squash, pumpkin, or sesame seeds into meals that you already enjoy.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids (EPA + DHA):
Omega-3 fatty acids support your immune system because of their anti-inflammatory properties. The experts recommend taking 250 mg per day.
Fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, anchovies, and sardines are all rich with omega-3 fatty acids. If you’re looking for a vegetarian or vegan option, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts and soybeans are also packed with omega-3s.