Written by Dr. Alyssa Dweck, MS, MD, FACOG, Chief Medical Officer
The confluence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the annual flu season this fall and winter has understandably made us all a little nervous. While being able to completely safeguard yourself against all risk is impossible, there are many immune boosting practices you can take to optimize your health and strengthen your body’s natural immunity. Here are some of my top tips to shore up your immune boosting routine.
Lifestyle habits are key.
Clearly, a healthy immune system is vital to fighting any malady, including COVID-19. Lifestyle habits are surely part of this. For example, the Mediterranean diet, known for its cardiovascular benefits, is also immune boosting. Regular exercise is vital and stress reduction measures are key.
Supplements can reliably and safely help boost immune function.
Let’s talk about Vitamin D.
Fun fact, Vitamin D is actually a hormone but is more commonly referred to as a fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin D is usually thought of as a bone health supplement but don’t underestimate its role in supporting a healthy immune system. Adequate Vitamin D is often difficult to obtain through diet alone since it is usually found only in supplemented products like milk or orange juice, rather than naturally occurring food sources. We do get vitamin D through sun exposure; however, many are still deficient especially during colder winter months and or those who avoid the sun altogether. I recommend a Vitamin D3 supplement of 1000 IU/day for optimal immune support.
What about Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin found naturally in citrus fruits. Vitamin C is also a strong antioxidant, which means it helps to fight cell damage. Vitamin C also helps to optimize immune cell function and has been touted to help fight the common cold, which is actually a different strain of Coronavirus. I recommend a daily supplement of 1000 mg daily.
Zinc is found naturally in oysters. Since most of us are not regularly consuming oysters in abundance, supplementing may be beneficial. Zinc helps white blood cells to function; and white blood cells are vital to the immune system’s response to fighting viruses. Consider taking zinc to help further support your immune function. A recommended dose is 30 mg per day.
Probiotics are in!
A daily probiotic may help to maintain digestive health and boost immune function. Probiotics may also help to reduce the risk of the common cold. The most common strains include lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium with typical dosing up to 10 billion colony forming units, daily. Keep in mind, those with compromised immune systems or those undergoing cancer treatments should check with their doctors prior to supplementation.