Four key supplements to build immunity

It’s important to know that simply building immunity will not prevent you from contracting COVID-19.  The virus that causes COVID-19 is unique, meaning those who contract it have no existing antibodies to mount a defense. For that reason, it remains imperative to continue practicing social distancing, good hand hygiene, and cough etiquette.

However, developing a strong immune system while you’re healthy will help you fight the new virus in the event you get sick. Taking steps now to boost your immune health can also help you fight other common bugs such as cold or flu viruses.

Here are some of the most important supplements to take as part of your immunity boosting regiment.

Vitamin D: Published research demonstrates that higher vitamin D levels of 50 ng/ml appear to protect against viral respiratory infection. The natural way to get vitamin D is from the sun absorption by the skin, but with lockdown orders this has been challenging for most Americans, 90% of who are already vitamin D deficient. Your vitamin D level needs to be between 40-60 ng/ml to have an impact on fighting disease and viruses, and the only way to know that is to test your levels, which will help you determine the proper dosing for vitamin D.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions. Studies show that a deficiency in this vitamin causes impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections.  Supplementation with vitamin C appears to help both prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections, including coronavirus-type infections.

Zinc: A mineral important for protein synthesis, wound healing, sense of taste and smell and immune function. It is only needed in small amounts, and usually we can get enough from our diets. Studies show that zinc prevents the replication of viruses inside cells and can decrease the duration of colds. Zinc lozenges are especially effective as reported in a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Although there is no direct evidence at this time that zinc lozenges can prevent or treat COVID-19, Dr. James Robb, a retired virologist at University of California San Diego believes it may be helpful because zinc was shown in a lab study in 2010 to inhibit the replication of coronavirus cells). Zinc lozenges should not be taken for more than 5 to 7 days because it may cause a copper deficiency, which can dangerously impair immune function.

Amino Acids: These are important building blocks of antibodies, which are produced by the body’s immune system to help fight off foreign invaders, like bacteria and viruses. You can get amino acids through eating protein, but there are so many amino acids in different combinations that you may not know what you are getting so supplementing with the essential amino acids that support the immune system is recommended. A clinically peer reviewed supplement called Rejuvenate consists of the essential amino acids that are important to immune function including leucine, valine and isoleucine.

In addition to following a supplement regimen, managing stress is important to build immunity. In these times of stress and uncertainty it becomes even more important to engage in strategies that can help manage stress such as regular exercise, healthy meals, relaxation/mindfulness, self-care and connection (within the COVID-19 guidelines for social distancing). And finally make sure to support all of these activities with a good night’s sleep.

Christine Horner, MD

Christine Horner, MD is a nationally known surgeon, author, and natural health expert residing in San Diego, CA. She holds two board certifications: the National Board of Surgery and the National Board of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Horner was recognized as a leader in her field shortly after starting her plastic and reconstructive surgery practice because she successfully ran a national campaign to pass laws requiring insurance companies to pay for breast reconstruction following mastectomy.

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