Vitamins and Minerals that May Help with Viral Infections

Despite everything you may have read on the internet, nothing has been proven to cure or prevent COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself from the Coronavirus is to practice social distancing1 and not come into contact with someone that has been infected. You should also make sure that you get enough sleep, exercise daily, eat healthy, and find ways to reduce stress.

For the latest on COVID-19, we encourage you to use online resources from the CDCWHO, and local public health departments.

With that being said, here are three essential vitamins and minerals that could have potential health benefits if taken daily (not excessively):

Vitamin C

When your body is deficient in iron, it can make you more vulnerable to infections. Vitamin C may help your body absorb iron 2 from the foods you eat. Vitamin C is vital to the function of leukocytes (white blood cells that can help fight off infections), and it may boost your overall immune system3.

Taking 500 mg of Vitamin C (twice daily) before the signs of the common cold may slightly reduce the duration of the virus. Vitamin C is also stored in the adrenals and helps your body deal with stress.

Many people are reading that taking higher doses (5,000 mg) of Vitamin C may help your body battle against the fight against COVID-19, but this information is false and has been banned on platforms such as Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter. Vitamin C, when taken in large doses, can cause gastric distress, diarrhea, and other harmful reactions 4.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D may help reduce the risk of respiratory infections and viruses such as influenza A in children and adults that are deficient 5. If you don’t get enough sun daily, it is recommended that you take a Vitamin D3 supplement or eat foods that are high in Vitamin D.

To maintain healthy levels of Vitamin D, make sure to get enough sun daily -- at least three times a week for about 30 minutes -- making sure to safely expose your hands, arms, legs, and face. You can also find Vitamin D in some milks and plant-based milks.

At this time, there is no evidence that Vitamin D can cure or prevent the coronavirus, but taking a Vitamin D supplement may be a safe, preventative measure to help protect your body from respiratory infections in general.

Zinc

Zinc helps activate T cells that protect against viral infection. Though you normally only need a small amount of zinc each day, studies suggest that you can safely take a higher dose temporarily to help fight off a cold or flu.6,7  

Zinc supplements are most beneficial to those who have a deficiency. Vegetarians, the elderly, and those taking certain medications, such as those that reduce stomach acid and ACE inhibitors, are most likely to be deficient in zinc.

To make sure you are getting your daily dose of these essential immune-boosting vitamins and minerals, we recommend eating a healthy diet and taking one of our Multivitamin supplements.

 References:

1. What is social distancing and how can it slow the spread of COVID-19?, March 13

2. Prediction of dietary iron absorption: an algorithm for calculating absorption and bioavailability of dietary iron., 2000 May;71(5):1147-60

3. Vitamin C and immune function., 2009 Feb;32(2):49-54; quiz 55-6

4. Is it possible to take too much vitamin C?

5. Vitamin D supplementation and respiratory infections in children

6. Zinc intake and status in middle-aged and older European subjects: the ZENITH study

7. Zinc.” Micronutrient Information Center, Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University.