Vitamins and minerals that can help us to be healthy
First, before we begin, it is crucial to clarify that there is no cure for coronavirus yet.
Yes, the Chinese and Italians already have some practical experience.
Yes, there are already some studies on the effectiveness of some drugs. But there are no studies done on a large number of people over a long period
Yes, there are some encouraging results and attempts to register a medicine, but nothing is approved globally yet.
So if someone is trying to convince you that they have a cure for the virus than a food supplement – then that person is either very deluded or is trying to fool you deliberately.
In a few more months, we will probably have enough quality research done on a large number of people, but until then, it’s important:
- Let’s NOT speculate with unproven information
- Let’s see what else we have
And here, it turns out there is a lot of research on how specific vitamins and minerals can help us get sick less often and heal faster.
Get Vitamin C, D, and Zinc in!
Most people start drinking Vitamin C when they get sick and not that it’s bad, but the real effect of Vitamin C is if we drank it BEFORE we get sick.
A meta-analysis done by Hemilä and a team of 29 studies in 2013 found the following (1):
When we are HEALTHY:
- Vitamin C intake slightly reduces the duration and cold symptoms when we get sick
- slightly decreasing length means reducing the time by an average of 8% in adults and 14% in children
- Vitamin C athletes suffer TWO times less often than a cold compared to those who do not
When we are already SICK:
- we can still take vitamin C, but research shows it has had little effect
The study does not tell you not to drink Vitamin C while you are ill; it says you can benefit from taking it while you are healthy and taking it regularly.
The recommended daily dose of Vitamin C is 90 mg for adults and is 2-3 times lower in children depending on age.
Toxicity at higher doses of intake is almost not observed (2), and in rare cases when it occurs, adverse effects are expressed in the form of gastrointestinal discomfort and/or diarrhea (3)
Of course, always consult your doctor and especially if you have kidney problems or a family history of kidney problems or hemochromatosis.
It is advisable to strive to obtain the necessary amounts of Vitamin C, mainly from food sources, with the highest levels of the vitamin in question are found in:
- red peppers, oranges, grapefruit, broccoli, kiwi, and strawberries
Is Vitamin C the only vitamin that can help?
Vitamin D to come in!
Also known as the “solar vitamin” because we get it by synthesizing it when we expose our skin to the sun. Vitamin D is involved in most of the processes that take place in our bodies.
- In a specific context, epidemiological studies of Berry and Rafiq and the teams of 2011 and 2018 show that when our vitamin D levels are low in our bodies, we are at a higher risk of developing viral infections of the upper respiratory tract. Demek has a sore throat, a runny nose, a fever, plus all the other nasty stuff. (4)
- A separate meta-analysis from 2017 by Martineau and a team of 25 studies showed that vitamin D intake reduced both osmotic attacks and upper respiratory tract infections (6)
How is the issue with children?
In 2010, Urashima and the team tested 334 children between 6 and 15 years, half giving 1200 IU of vitamin D daily, giving the other placebo, with extremely high quality (a randomized, double-blind clinical trial).
What happens is that at the end of the flu season, the Vitamin D group has 58% fewer flu cases (and six times fewer asthmatic attacks in children with asthma compared to children with asthma, who have not taken vitamin D) (7)
And because some people will ask for the recommended dosage – first, I would like to say that Aglipay and the staff conducted a randomized study of 703 children between 1 and 5 years of age in 2017 and found that it made no difference whether the children received 400 or 2000 IU of vitamin D (8)
So for children, it is probably OK, useful, and safe to supplement with 400 IU of Vitamin E daily.
For the elderly, do your preventative medical examinations once every six months and keep your 25-OH vitamin D3 below 40 ng/ml.
The daily recommendations are between 400 and 2000 IU (13). In case of severe deficiency, much higher doses can be recommended, but you MUST consult your doctor, and the higher doses MUST go with regular testing!
[Warning!] Vitamin D is strongly recommended for women after menopause as a prevention of osteoporosis. Often with calcium! But keep this in mind, because a Jackson and staff study of 36,382 over 7 years (!) Found that post-menopausal women taking only 400 IU of vitamin D3 together with 1000mg of calcium daily had a 17% higher risk of developing kidney stones! (15)
The richest in vitamin D foods are mackerel, beef, liver, and yolks. But even in these quantities are insignificant compared to what our body can synthesize from the sun.
If you find vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) – get it
Do not take D2 (ergocalciferol) – it is absorbed worse, and there were some contraindications that I forgot, and now I am not looking for it because this post has become quite long and there is more
Even though it’s winter – go out naked on the terrace at noon as it’s sunny (and be careful not to catch cold) – even if you don’t synthesize a lot of D3, at least it’s cute 😉
Add D3-rich foods to your diet but be careful with calories and fat if you have a problem with bile
“What should I do if I’m already sick?”
Like Vitamin D, zinc has many functions in our body. One of them is in our immune system, where it plays a vital role.
If, for example, you are often ill, you likely have a zinc deficiency.
Between 50 and 80% of colds are caused by rhinoviruses, crown viruses (viruses in the same group as SARS CoV-2, which are currently in pain but different), RSV and parainfluenza.
The standard cold has also been found to last an average of about 7 days.
In 2015, Hemilä and team (9) found that taking zinc in the form of a suction supplement (suction pill) reduced the incidence of:
- Running nose with 34%
- Clogged nose with 37%
- 22% sneezing
- 33% irritated (scratching) throat
- Sore throat (18%)
- Fracture by 43%
In 2016, the same scientist and his colleagues found that taking zinc in the same form reduces the duration of the cold by an average of 2 to 4 days. (10)
Again, in 2017, he found that in two groups of patients – one taking zinc and the other not – on day 5 of the onset of the cold, the recovery from the group receiving zinc was 2.5 times more than the recovery from the group that received did not accept zinc. (11)
How much zinc to take?
The upper limit for non-risk zinc intake is 40 mg according to the National Institute of Health (12)
And the recommended daily intake for both is (12):
- men – 11 mg
- women – 8 mg
However, in the studies cited above, people were taking between 75 and 95 mg of zinc daily as a supplement.
searched for toxicity data and found the following:
- there are 60 mg/day toxicity data for TEN  weeks (12)
- there is evidence of toxicity by ingestion of 4g zinc gluconate at one time (16)
- no toxicity was observed according to a meta-analysis by Hemilä and the team of up to 100 mg daily for two weeks (9)
The authors of the studies cited above recommend that zinc acetate (up to 80 mg/day) in the form of suction tablets may reduce the duration and alleviation of cold symptoms (9) (10).
It is important to note here that, first, researchers would never use a protocol to compromise the health of subjects and, second, symptoms of zinc toxicity were not observed during the studies in question. And third, the participants were monitored.
And of course, it is best to try to get enough zinc in our diet, and the richest in zinc foods are meat, all kinds of mussels, oysters, shrimp, crabs, legumes, nuts, seeds, eggs, and dairy products.
[Caution!] – People in the studies cited above have had the results mentioned because they increased their zinc intake within the first 24 hours after they received the early cold symptoms. They acted quickly. Keep that in mind.
[Attention 2!] – Some people are more sensitive to zinc than others, and if you feel the urge to nausea or stomach discomfort – stop taking it. For some people, this may be caused by zinc supplementation, but by stopping it, the described negative symptoms disappear. If you are one of these people – just focus more on the zinc-rich foods listed above.
[Warning 3!] – Vegetarians may need to supplement with 50% more zinc than non-vegetarians because the former do not consume a lot of zinc-rich foods and are more likely to have zinc deficiency (12)
[Caution 4!] – Zinc MAY have overdosed if you take high doses for prolonged periods, resulting in copper deficiency or zinc poisoning. So follow the recommendations of MH and WHO and focus more on zinc-rich foods rather than supplements.
And one more thing – like Vitamin D, Zinc is also hard to find right now and also DO NOT go to the pharmacies but check online. It is far more harmful to push into crowds of people than NOT to drink zinc.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The vitamins and minerals listed above are the only ones for which there is enough convincing research in the scientific literature at present that they can have a positive effect on diseases characteristic of the winter season, such as colds and flu.
As you can see, none of them cure colds and flu. Only:
They reduce the chance of getting sick
And they help us get the disease out faster and with milder symptoms
How do they do it?
You have also seen with Vitamin D and in zinc – people with a deficiency of the vitamin and mineral in question in their bodies suffer more often and/or with more and more severe symptoms.
The only thing that fights threats to our health is our immune system. And it needs optimal conditions to function effectively.
And when we do not have optimal conditions such as quality sleep, adequate movement, adequate zinc intake, and normal levels of vitamin D – our immune system is not functioning effectively enough, and we are suffering.
What about COVID-19?
Let’s look carefully at who suffers the most from this infection and which groups are most at risk.
First, these are the elderly over 65. Second, these are people with comorbid conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, etc.
What they all have in common is that the immune system is weakened in one way or another.
Whether supplementation with the listed vitamins and minerals will help as prevention in COVID-19 is unknown at this time. It will be up in half to one year.
By then, however, neither the cold nor the flu will disappear. And low levels of vitamin D and zinc in the body lead to negative consequences for more than two aspects of our health (bones, reproductive system, hair, skin, psyche, etc.).
Therefore, you take good care of your body and eat rich in vitamins and minerals (we have listed the most important ones above)
And how many supplements should I drink in the end?
Keep in mind that this is not a medical publication, so if you decide to take supplements, you should best show it to your doctor and ask him/her what he thinks.
The data from the cited studies indicate the following:
Recommended daily intake:
- for adults over 19 years – 90 mg daily
- for children – the doses are 2-3 times smaller (talk to your doctor)
- for smokers, the intake should average about 35 mg more than for non-smokers (2)
- during the winter season – doses can be increased by all, but talk to your doctor beforehand
- if you have stomach discomfort – reduce the dose
- if you have kidney or family problems or hemochromatosis – FIRST consult your healthcare provider
- try to get it primarily from high-grade foods
- The official adult recommendations are between 400 and 800 IU per day, according to Pludowski and staff may reach 2000 IU per day (13), but if you intend to take more than 800 IU, consult your doctor!
(especially if you are a post-menopausal woman and take calcium too !!!)
- and every six months (at least) monitor your serum (blood) levels for 25-OH Vitamin D3
- if you have a serious deficiency (deficient viral levels) – higher doses may be available, but this should come from your doctor
- for children – 400 IU day
- try to get it primarily from high-grade foods and (reasonable quantities) sun
- Healthcare organizations’ recommendations are about 10 mg per day
- The American Health Organization recommends not to exceed 40 mg a day in the long term
- studies are showing that the first cold or flu symptoms – 75-95 mg daily until the disease has resolved (no more than two weeks) help to get faster healing and reducing symptoms (9)
So if you decide to try this protocol, limit yourself to up to one week of high intake at first and remember to consult your doctor.
- if you have a feeling of nausea or stomach discomfort – reduce the dose or discontinue use
- try to get it primarily from high-grade foods
(1) Hemilä H, Chalker E. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2013)
(2) Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoidsexternal link disclaimer. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, (2000)
(3) Jacob RA, Sotoudeh G. Vitamin C function and status in chronic disease. Nutr Clin Care (2002)
(4) Berry DJ et al. Vitamin D status has a linear association with seasonal infections and lung function in British adults. Br J Nutr. (2011)
(5) Rafiq R, et al. Associations of Serum 25(OH)D Concentrations with Lung Function, Airway Inflammation, and Common Cold in the General Population. Nutrients. (2018)
(6) Martineau AR, et al. Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. BMJ. (2017)
(7) Urashima M, Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr. (2010)
(8) Aglipay M, et al. Effect of High-Dose vs. Standard-Dose Wintertime Vitamin D Supplementation on Viral Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in Young Healthy Children. JAMA. (2017)
(9) Hemilä H, Chalker E. The effectiveness of high dose zinc acetate lozenges on various common cold symptoms: a meta-analysis. BMC Fam Pract. (2015)
(10) Hemilä H, et al. Zinc acetate lozenges for treating the common cold: an individual patient data meta-analysis. Br J Clin Pharmacol. (2016)
(11) Hemilä H et al. Zinc Acetate Lozenges May Improve the Recovery Rate of Common Cold Patients: An Individual Patient Data Meta-Analysis., Open Forum Infect Dis. (2017)
(12) Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zincexternal link disclaimer. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, (2001)
(13) Pludowski et al., Vitamin D supplementation guidelines, J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. (2018)
(15) Jackson RD, LaCroix AZ, Gass M, Wallace RB, Robbins J, Lewis CE, et al. Calcium plus vitamin D supplementation and the risk of fractures. N Engl J Med (2006)
(16) Lewis MR, Kokan L. Zinc gluconate: acute ingestion. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol (1998)