*Affiliate disclosure. As states begin to open up for the summer, it’s more important than ever to support your health and wellbeing. We hope you’re taking time to take care of yourself (see our list of expert-backed tips for self-care during self-isolation). Maybe you’re getting wine and meal delivery at home, and you’re probably stocking up with long-lasting fruit and veg to stay healthy.
But you might also be needing a bit of extra help with physical and mental health: immunity, anxiety, and sleep have all taken a hit during these unprecedented times. That’s why our experts recommend you work in collaboration with your primary care physician to consider changes in your supplement regimen. You may want to consider having your doctor run some tests to get the real facts and uncover where you really are nutritionally deficient. Then, you’ll know what the best supplement investments are for you.
The below expert recommendations are for discussion purposes only and are not medical advice. They will not prevent the onset or cure COVID-19. To be safe and healthy during these uncertain times, please follow the CDC guidelines , wear a mask when you go out, remember to social distance, don’t touch your face, and wash your hands often.
Here’s our expert picks: SmarterNutrition – Vitamin D3+K2 1. Vitamin D
Unless you’re lucky enough to have a big balcony or yard, you’re probably not getting as much sunshine as you usually would during the pandemic – which means taking a vitamin D supplement is probably a good idea.
Vitamin D is often dubbed the “sunshine vitamin” because, as Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RD, LD/N, nutrition consultant for RSP Nutrition explains, “You require sunlight to activate the vitamin D you eat/drink into its active, bioavailable form.”
“It’s like electricity stored in a light switch – you need to turn the switch ON to get an effect.”
According to Dr. Sterling Petersen , DC, even in non-pandemic times, about half of Americans are “barely getting enough sun exposure to support healthy vitamin D levels.” And since vitamin D has vital functions related to immunity and serotonin, he says it’s an “utterly important vitamin” – especially now.
Vitamin D, explains Kelly Bay DC, CNS, CDN, registered dietician and certified nutrition specialist, plays a vital role in your body’s ability to fight off infection.
“In fact,” she says, “low levels of vitamin D can put you at increased risk of contracting the flu or a cold.”
“This vitamin is also linked to our mood due to vitamin D receptors located on the brain,” adds Lisa Richards, nutritionist and author of The Candida Diet . “A deficiency in this fat-soluble vitamin means these cells will die off and can lead to chemical and emotional imbalance in the brain.” “It’s like electricity stored in a light switch – you need to turn the switch ON to get an effect.” Not only can vitamin D support better immunity and mental health, but some research shows it may even prevent contracting the virus. However, further research needs to be done to truly verify this.
Dr. Paul Dean, board certified dermatologist and a former Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer of the CDC, calls attention to the link between vitamin D supplementation and a reduction in the risk of COVID-19 infections, as stated in a NCBI/NIH publication released in April 2020 .
“The pandemic has been particularly harmful or deadly to older patients and people of color,” he says, noting that elderly people who remain indoors and those with darker pigmentation and, therefore, a reduced ability to synthesize vitamin D, are at a greater risk for deficiency.
“Vitamin D deficiency can be considered to be a co-morbidity for many people,” he continues.
Dr. Michael T. Murray , one of the leading authorities on natural medicine, echoes this analysis.
“Preliminary research is showing vitamin D3 is showing impressive effects in buffering the severity of COVID-19 infections,” he says. “When researchers analyzed vitamin D levels in the blood in patients with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection they found that lower levels were associated with more severe symptoms of COVID-19. Those patients with normal vitamin D levels rarely had severe symptoms and, in most cases, had only mild or no symptoms.”
While getting 20 to 30 minutes of sunlight is the ideal way to get more vitamin D, if that’s not possible for you while sheltering at home, Petersen recommends taking a supplemental combination of vitamin D3 and vitamin K2.
“Without the K2 combination,” he notes, “the body is unable to process the increased amount of calcium in the body into the right places, such as the bones, and instead may lead to arterial calcification.”
The plant-based D3/K2 formula from Smarter Nutrition contains 5,000 international units of D3, at the upper limit of Dean’s recommended daily 4,000 to 5,000. If you are considering supplementing with vitamin D, consult with your primary care physician to find out what’s right for you. NatureMade – Vitamin A – 8000 IU (2400 mcg) 2. Vitamin A
Vitamin A may be an essential vitamin for these pandemic times.
“Vitamin A deficient individuals are more susceptible to infectious diseases, in general, but especially viral infections,” says Murray. “Vitamin A supplementation has been shown to produce significant benefits in improving immune function during viral infections, especially when fighting respiratory tract viruses in children.”
Generally, a dosage of 3,000 mcg (10,000 IU) for men and 1,500 mcg (5,000 IU) for women is safe. Murray warns, however, that women who may be pregnant or are lactating should avoid supplementing more than 1,500 mcg (5,000 IU) of vitamin A per day.
If you’re already taking a multivitamin, you may be getting vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. If this is the case, Murray recommends supplementing with a retinol-based vitamin A, which, he notes, “has more direct anti-infective action.”
If you are considering adding vitamin A to your supplement regimen, consult with your primary care physician to discuss first, if you need it, and if you do, the proper dosage, which is important. There are consequences for over-supplementing. You may not need a vitamin A supplement if […]