People taking their health into their own hands have questions about what they can do about general virus protection. Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to help your body fight off viral infections or at least dramatically minimize the effects. We have talked about this before in previous blogs but this is an update from an article from the Institute for Functional Medicine April 7, 2020.
The explanation of just how the COVID-19 virus affects the body is quite technical and beyond the scope of this particular blog. I will discuss what is known about research and a few key supplements, how effective these supplements are and what is the risk of taking them.
Vitamin C, D, Zinc, NAC and Melatonin
Our primary supplement recommendations to help prevent and lower severity of symptoms are vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, NAC and melatonin. Other supplements that can be helpful are PEA (Palmitoylethanolamide), elderberry, vitamin A, resveratrol, EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate), curcumin and quercetin.
Most people won’t wish to take all of these so that is why we have listed the 5 basics. I don’t worry about people so much who are keeping up on their C, D, zinc, glutathione support and maybe some melatonin.
IV Vitamin C and Covid-19
Vitamin C has found its way into treatment regimens in many hospitals. Doctors have noticed that their patients have fewer problems and recover more quickly when given IV vitamin C. You don’t have to be on a ventilator to get benefit from vitamin C. Vitamin C works on many levels and should be considered essential for prevention and treatment of this and other viral infections. Recommended dose is 1-3g 4 times per day if you notice any symptoms at all. There is some debate about which form of C, ascorbic acid vs ascorbate. Each has its advantages and I would recommend just getting some in there and not stress too much about which one.
What About Zinc?
Zinc has been shown to be important to help prevent viral infections and also to reduce severity and duration. Zinc deficiencies are common in populations at risk for COVID 19 infections and complications. The strength of evidence for the use of zinc is strong. Recommended dose is 30-60 mg a day in divided doses. We recommend taking a combination zinc and copper formula as just taking zinc tends to lower your copper levels. We use Karuna Zinc Picolinate Plus.
How Much Vitamin D3 Do You Need?
Vitamin D has gotten a lot of press lately as studies related to this pandemic have shown that people with higher vitamin D levels have few incidents of infection and fewer risks. Several studies are supporting this supplement. One article recommends 10,000 IUs per day for several weeks and then reducing to 5000 IUs per day after that while the risk exists. They also say that higher doses for those infected with COVID 19 might be necessary. This sounds about right in our experience with looking at lab tests these last several decades. Evidence for recommending vitamin D is strong and risk is minimal. We have had a couple of patients who needed a specific form of D. We tend to recommend Pure Encapsulation 5000 IU capsules for the majority and Biotics Bio-D Mulsion Forte for those that don’t tolerate the capsule version well.
NAC Promotes Glutathione!
NAC (N-acetylcysteine) helps promote glutathione production. Glutathione is on the front line of your body’s detox. Studies have shown that with sufficient amounts of NAC, you can expect fewer days of illness and fewer flu incidents. Dose is 600-900 mg twice a day. Strength of evidence is limited meaning that studies are showing positive correlations but the mechanism might be poorly understood. We also recommend adding alpha lipoic acid (ALA) with NAC as that appears to help your body make glutathione better than NAC alone. Our favorite brands are NuMedica and Protocol. Products are just named NAC.
Melatonin and Quercetin Play A Role!
Melatonin is known for help with sleep but it also important to help prevent the cytokine storm that is a hallmark of the COVID 19 process. Studies aren’t as strong as for vitamin C and vitamin D but the amounts needed are so small and cheap that it seems negligent to ignore this.
Quercetin has been shown to have anti-viral effects for RNA viruses (influenza and coronavirus) and DNA viruses (herpes). Recommended dose is 500 to 1000 mg two times per day. Expected result is reduction of symptoms with a moderate confidence of results.
Anti-inflammation Agents Work!
Curcumin helps to lower inflammation and can help to lower viral replication. Suggested dose is 500 to 1000 mg 2 times per day. Scientific data in support of curcumin is mixed with some conflicting results. I take this to mean that it works well for some and not others depending on your genetic predisposition. If you know you respond well to curcumin, you would be wise to take some just in case and more if you feel any viral-type symptoms. Any risk from taking curcumin is very minimal.
Resveratrol can help modulate the inflammation response. Suggested dosage is 100-150 4 times per day. Studies are variable about its effectiveness. It has been shown to be helpful in studies with the MERS-CoV and Influenza viruses but we don’t have a lot of good data for COVID-19 just yet. Risk is very low for any issues.
Elderberry and Vitamin A
I will again mention a few other common supplements that have been used and studied with respect to virus infections and for SARS CoV2 in particular. In no particular order, these would be vitamin A, elderberry, PEA and EGCG.
If you wish to explore this further, open www.ifm.org and search “covid-19 specific nutraceutical”.
In summary, keep up your C, D, zinc, NAC and maybe some melatonin. Add some of these other supplements if you still feel like your body is having trouble fighting off viruses. Thanks for working hard to take care of yourself. Your family and community appreciate it.