Every cloud, as they say, has a silver lining – even the cloud of COVID-19 that, especially here in SoCal, shows few signs of drifting away anytime soon. In our view, that silver lining is the wealth of new research being done on nutritional therapies to prevent or treat illness.
We’ve looked at some of it before, particularly on vitamins C and D, which seem to have grabbed most of the attention. But those are hardly the only nutrients of interest. Nor are they the only ones with a role to play in supporting and strengthening your immune system.
“The role nutrition plays in supporting the immune system is well-established,” note the authors of a study published last spring in the journal Nutrients.
A wealth of mechanistic and clinical data show that vitamins, including vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and folate; trace elements, including zinc, iron, selenium, magnesium, and copper; and the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid play important and complementary roles in supporting the immune system. Inadequate intake and status of these nutrients are widespread, leading to a decrease in resistance to infections and as a consequence an increase in disease burden.
Other studies recommend those nutrients, as well. A more recent review of the science in that same journal focused on 10 nutrients designated by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as being “essential for the normal functioning of the immune system, due to the scientific evidence collected so far”: vitamins A, B6, B12, C, and D, folate, zinc, iron, copper, and selenium.
Results from the review approach show the importance of maintaining a correct nutritional status of these 10 nutrients analyzed for the health of the immune system, highlighting the importance of Vitamin D and iron in the context of COVID-19. Besides, the ecological study demonstrates that intake levels of relevant micronutrients – especially Vitamins D, C, B12, and iron – are inversely associated with higher COVID-19 incidence and/or mortality, particularly in populations genetically predisposed to show lower micronutrient status.
“Judicious use of need-based micronutrient supplementation,” write the authors of the Nutrition Reviews paper,
alongside existing micronutrient fortification programs, is warranted in the current global pandemic, especially in low- and middle-income economies.
However, this doesn’t mean you can just start popping supplements from your local big box store and expect greater protection against COVID or any other viral or respiratory threat. For one, there’s the matter of getting the right dosage, which can vary from person to person, depending on their current health status and overall history.
This is one of the main reasons why we always recommend developing a targeted nutrition program with an integrative physician like Dr. Joe. You need the right supplements, in the right form, in the right dose to get the benefits you seek. A knowledgeable doctor of functional medicine is an indispensable guide.
More, as we’ve discussed before, oral supplements have a long and winding path to take from your mouth to the cells of your body. Many nutrients can be lost along the way. But with intravenous (IV) drip therapy, nutrients are delivered right into your blood, which carries them to where they are needed.
The blood levels of the nutrients you receive intravenously are many, many times higher than they’d be if you took the supplements orally – and without any of the nausea, diarrhea, or other effects you can get from going overboard with oral supplements.
Of course, personalized drip therapy is just one of the options we offer to patients seeking an immune boost in our holistic clinic here in West Los Angeles. You can learn more about a few of the others here.