Many are wondering what we can do to strengthen our immune system and whether nutritional supplements can help us in this. Certainly our first concern is to ensure that we have a healthy diet rich in seasonal fruits and vegetables, but also a good rest, as sleep is considered by many to be one of the best doctors!
Some nutritional supplements may also help in this effort. However, one should be aware that they do not guarantee the prevention or treatment of serious diseases such as coronavirus! They are here to help us address any deficiencies and boost our immune system to better cope with various risks.
Zinc is one of our first choices for boosting the immune system. In fact, when it comes to lozenges or chewable tablets with zinc, the severity and duration of symptoms appear to reduce as they act directly on the throat, where many bacteria and viruses are collected (1).
Zinc supplements mainly help those who are deficient in this metal. This concerns the elderly, whose body lacks the ability to absorb zinc properly, as well as vegetarians and those who take certain medicines, eg. drugs that reduce acids in the stomach.
However, we should keep in mind the concentration of zinc in these supplements, because if it goes beyond the recommended daily intake, it is likely to cause copper deficiency in the case of long-term intake or affect the absorption of antibiotics. So, if the concentration is high, it is best to consume the product for about a week or look for one that contains copper as well.
Vitamin D has been extensively studied for its properties and effect on our body. Although we can produce it with our exposure to the sun, there are many who lack it, especially in the winter months. Research has been shown that Vitamin D contributes significantly to the prevention of upper respiratory tract infections (2). In general, vitamin D helps our body to cope better with viruses. So try to be exposed to the sun every day or in the absence of a supplement with your doctor’s consent.
Elderberry is traditionally used for the symptoms of the common cold. Small studies so far have shown that if one gets elderberry syrup or lozenges when the first symptoms start, these appear to decrease, as does the duration of the cold or the flu. It also seems to work well with the combination with echinacea (3). However, more research is needed to prove its effectiveness.
Olive leaf extract
Olive leaf extract has attracted interest in recent years as it is rich in polyphenols, and especially oleuropein, an antioxidant that appears to enhance body’s defense against pathogenic microorganisms. Indeed, several studies indicate that it may help to deal with viruses and bacteria of the upper respiratory tract, but further research is needed.
All of the above are good choices to equip our body and especially our immune system. If you are already on medication or experiencing symptoms of a virus, contact your doctor for guidance.
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