The Gist: You want a healthy immune system. Here are supplements you take to do that. I’m not a doctor. This is a collection of information I’ve collected from various sources (listed below) Listen to your doctor as they know more about you on a case by case basis.
Protein and protein digestion = amino acids in our bodies. Questions that come up: Are you eating a well balanced diet? Are you getting all of the essential amino acids i.e. the nine amino acids our bodies cannot make? Am I deficient in an amino acid?
As we ingest proteins our bodies break them down into amino acids, ship them to the liver and then throughout the body for various processes. 1. The liver uses some of the amino acids for what it needs for itself = healthy well functioning liver. We’re all drinking more in quarantine! Your liver needs to work. 2. The liver produces energy with some of the amino’s OR can build 11 of the other amino’s (not the nine essential ones) if there’s a shortage. 3. The liver then ships what it has and does not need to the bloodstream for the rest of the body cells to use. One of the functions of the bloodstream aminos is synthesizing immune system chemicals like:
Immunoglobulins: recognize and bind to bacteria/viruses and kill them.
Antibodies: also recognize and bind to bacteria/viruses and kill them.
Cytokines: Mediate and regulate immunity, among other things.
GREENS/REDS aka Phytonutrients
Greens and Reds come in all kinds of labels… Use your internet search engine to dive into that rabbit hole. BASICALLY though: EAT YOUR VEGGIES. If you don’t like to eat veggies though or don’t eat enough (which usually is the case) you can Drink’em! Greens and Reds provide you with Phytonutrients that:
Clean up Free Radicals.
Help with Hormone function. Primarily in women.
Help fight Bacteria/Viruses/Pathogens
Inhibit Fat Storage/Synthesis
We need about 30 mg/day. We get it from meat (3.5 oz Ground beef = 4.8 milligrams Zinc) and not so much from plants. So if you’re vegan or just don’t eat meat a supplement may be for you. NOW, Zinc is involved in a ton of body functions not the least of which is immunity. Zinc helps out in Innate Immunity, think cells that attack foreign bodies when we’re exposed. Major player 1 Neutrophils which comprise about 2/3 of your white blood cells. Major Player 2 Natural Killer cells (another white blood cell) that plays a major role in tumor and virus rejection. And if that’s not a good enough reason to take zinc it is also involved in:
Growth and Development
Reproduction. Men Especially! Sperm generation and health. Testosterone levels.
and quite a few other activities in our bodies. But remember, about 30 mg! Our bodies can’t store zinc so too much is not good.
Last and possibly most importantly (congrats if you made it this far in the reading) is Vitamin D. According to a 2011 study 41.6% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D (Link to study is below). I know the study is a little dated but ask yourself: 1. Do you think quality of food has increased? We get Vitamin D from egg yolks, fish, beef liver (when is the last time you ate that?), and fortified milk 2. We get a large portion of our Vitamin D from the sun. Do you think Americans have become more or less sedentary since 2011? Furthermore, if you live North of the parallel line that connects Philadelphia and San Francisco there’s even more likelihood you don’t get enough Vitamin D from the sun. So we need Vitamin D! We need it for:
Maintaining Calcium levels
Immune System Function
Regulating Glucose Tolerance
Regulating Blood Pressure (regulating the Renin-Angiotensin cascade)
Now here’s how Vitamin D relates to Covid-19. Let me preface this by saying you should go to https://www.foundmyfitness.com and check out Dr. Rhonda Patrick for what ails you. She knows a lot about a lot. Here’s a snippet from one of her Instagram posts about how Vitamin D levels in our body affect how we respond to a Covid-19 infection:
Maintaining a healthy vitamin D status, something that is an imminently solvable but often ignored problem for many people, may be an utterly crucial factor in protecting against susceptibility to lung injury. The enzyme this effect is mediated by? ACE2. The SARS-CoV-2 virus enters human cells via the ACE2 receptor. Viral particles can bind to a large number of ACE2 molecules, sequestering the ACE2 molecules from the cell surface and decreasing ACE2, and increasing disease severity. This has been shown to happen with the virus that caused the original SARS outbreak, SARS-CoV-1, which also binds to the ACE2 receptor.
This accompanying loss of ACE2 function can cause neutrophil infiltration, excessive inflammation, and lung injury. Once lung infection progresses to hypoxia, renin is released from the kidneys, setting up a vicious cycle for decreasing ACE2. Lower levels of ACE2 promote more damage, culminating in acute respiratory distress syndrome. Vitamin D prevents this from happening by decreasing the gene expression of renin.
Sources: Scott-Dixon, Krista et al. Precision Nutrition. Bell, Rachel and Weiss-Trainor, Erin (editors), 4th Ed., Unit Two, Precision Nutrition Inc., 2019, pgs. 123-192.
Dr. Rhonda patrick on Instagram and her website: foundmyfitness.com