COVID-19: Keeping Your Family Healthy – Part II
In the first article of this two-part series on keeping your family healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic we discussed natural ways to build a strong immune system.
Specifically, we established that our best defense against COVID-19 and other future health issues is to:
- Eat a nutrient-dense anti-inflammatory diet
- Optimize sleep
- Manage stress
- Get the right amount of movement
Today we will look at specific supplements and herbs that add “icing to the cake” and provide an additional level of support against COVID-19.
Supplements to Be Cautious With for COVID-19
Unfortunately, since this is a new virus for humans, we don’t know much about it. We are learning more every day.
There is some concern that our go-to herbs and supplements that we use for typical colds and flus don’t work the same on COVID-19. In fact they might even make outcomes worse.
Specific supplements to be cautious with include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin C
- Honeybee Propolis
Vitamins A and D:
It is possible that Vitamins A and D could do just that. But these vitamins also play an important role in keeping our immune systems healthy. (3)
For this reason, we want to maintain adequate levels of vitamins A and D without taking large doses. The safest way to do this is to consume foods with these vitamins instead of taking supplements.
The best food-based sources of vitamin A include liver and cod liver oil. Cod liver oil also naturally contains small amounts of vitamin D.
I have continued to take and give my kids 1 tsp of cod liver oil several times per week to maintain adequate levels of both of these vitamins.
If you have a known vitamin D deficiency and are supplementing, you might want to scale your dose back to around 2,000 IU/day for the time being.
Update on 9/3/2020: A randomized control trial was recently published and it showed that early vitamin D treatment in hospitalized patients virtually eliminated the risk of ICU admission and may even eliminate the risk of death. Comparing this with observational studies on the same topic, it appears to be safest to keep vitamin D levels (25-hydroxyvitamin D) between 30-60 ng/ml. At this point, I am less concerned with higher doses of vitamin D and at times may be necessary to get vitamin D levels into the optimal range. (4)
Focus on eating calcium-rich foods instead such as full-fat dairy and dark leafy greens.
Of course, if you have been told to take calcium supplementation by your provider, you will want to discuss this with them before making any changes.
You may have heard that some hospitals are using high dose vitamin C to treat severe cases of COVID-19. While this is useful for severe cases, I would be cautious with taking high doses of vitamin C at home.
Vitamin C can increase interferon, which temporarily increases our body’s inflammatory response to help the body fight infections.
However, with COVID-19, there is some concern that an overreactive inflammatory response could cause a cytokine storm. A cytokine storm is when your body produces an abundant amount of cytokines, causing a severe attack on the body by your own immune system. This is what we want to avoid if we do contract COVID-19. (7)
To be safe, stick to food-based sources of vitamin C such as oranges, grapefruits, red and green peppers, kiwi, broccoli, strawberries, and cantaloupe.
Honeybee Propolis is great for preventing most colds and flus, but can also increase interferon in the body. For the same reasons above, you should avoid taking this right now.
The Best Herbs and Supplements for Preventing COVID-19
We don’t have any specific research on natural remedies against COVID-19 at this time. However, based on the current research and knowledge we do have about similar viruses, consider adding these to your daily regimen:
As we discussed above, COVID-19 is unique in that it enters cells utilizing ACE2 receptors. Elderberry has been shown to block ACE2, preventing the virus from entering our cells.
Elderberry: 500-1000mg daily
Zinc has been shown to block the replication of viruses similar to COVID-19. Consider taking extra zinc right now – especially if you develop any symptoms of COVID-19.
- Adults take 30-60mg/day
For kids over 6 months the daily dose is:
- 6 months-3 years = 2-3mg
- 4-8 years = 5mg
- 9-13 years = 8-10mg
- 14-18 years = 10-15mg
It is important to keep a balance between our zinc and copper intake, so I wouldn’t recommend taking supplemental zinc longer than a few weeks.
To avoid this concern, another option is to eat a serving of oysters once per week or take oyster supplements. Oysters are rich in zinc and have the perfect balance of copper and zinc.
Zinc supplementation can interfere with diuretics, certain antibiotics, and medications used for Rheumatoid arthritis. Be sure to check with your provider first if you are taking any of these medications. (8)
The Time to Prioritize Our Health is Now
Now more than ever it’s clear that our health and the health of our loved ones is so very precious.
Our world has been turned upside down by this pandemic.
It’s time to take a step back and evaluate what is important to us – evaluate our habits and our goals.
But remember to prioritize building your “Immune System Cake” today and in the days ahead.
Not only will it give you peace of mind during this pandemic, but it will improve your health and your life in so many ways – and the benefits will last a lifetime.