A new study shows the important role micronutrients play in battling infections like the coronavirus disease and which key nutrients are vital in supporting an effective immune system.
Health experts assert the importance of strengthening the immune system with adequate nutrition.
In an effort to further inform the public of the benefits of nutrients, an independent review was made on the global scientific evidence regarding the roles of nutrients in support of immune response, including response against viral infections.
The study was composed of a panel of experts, invited by Manfred Eggersdorfer, Ph.D, professor for Healthy Ageing at the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands.
The research findings show a strong relation in the role of specific nutrients in supporting immune health in reducing the risk, duration, and severity of viral infections. The supplementation of nutrients on top of a well-balanced diet may help lower the risk of infection, and may play a role in faster recovery, according to the study.
Which nutrients help support our immune system?
The expert panel confirms that vitamins A, C, D, zinc, as well as omega-3 fatty acids work together to support an effective immune system and reduce the risk of viral infections, including respiratory tract infections.
For optimal results, it is ideal to ensure the intake of adequate amounts to help support the immune system.
Deficiencies in nutrients have the potential to negatively affect the body’s immune function and may therefore decrease resistance to infections.
How much nutrients does a person need to take?
For a strong immune system, an intake of 200 to 500 mg per day of vitamin C is recommended for healthy people. This can be achieved by eating three oranges or two kiwi fruits every day or by taking a supplement. Vitamin C requirements change depending on the health status of a person, and an intake of 1 to 2g per day is helpful for people who are sick.
Vitamin D is also effective in reducing the risk of respiratory tract infections. Studies have shown that an intake of 2000 IU daily is optimal. Fatty fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. However, if it is difficult to eat two to three portions of fatty fish per week to achieve the recommended amount, a supplement of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) amounting to 250 mg a day would be a good alternative.
Zinc, while not stored in the body, is found in most of the meat we consume. Food rich in zinc are crab, beef, pork, and chicken; vegetables such as mushrooms and kale; chickpeas, lentils, and beans are also very good sources of this nutrient, with the recommended intake of 8 to 11μg a day.
Experts, however, clarify that nutritional supplementation will not necessarily prevent infections or cure the infection, but may help decrease the risk of falling ill, symptoms, and the duration, as well as help in facilitating recovery.