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Three vitamins, minerals to boost your immune system and fight COVID-19

Earlier this year, Palacios collaborated with a team of international experts to develop a guide, which was published in the official journal of the Latin American Society of Nutrition (SLAN), to help frontline workers protect their health through supplements and food. During the webinar, Palacios shared some of those recommendations—which are applicable for adults in the general public, as cities continue to reopen.

Here are the top three supplements adults should consider taking.

1. Vitamin C. This vitamin has been hailed for years as a go-to source for aiding the immune system. Palacios said vitamin C is vital for the health of leukocytes, a type of white blood cells that help fight infections. It’s particularly important during a pandemic. She recommends adults take a supplement of 1000 mg twice every day.

She also recommended consuming foods rich in vitamin C. These foods include the classics of orange juice and oranges as well as other citric fruits and vegetables including grapefruit, strawberries, tomatoes and cranberries.

2. Vitamin D. Most often we get our vitamin D through the sun, but throughout this time, Palacios said, taking a supplement is a good idea. She added that studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D have been associated with a greater risk of developing respiratory conditions in adults and children.

In fact, studies have begun to show that people with vitamin D deficiencies are at a higher risk of getting infected by the COVID-19 virus. The time to act is now.

Palacios recommended adults take a supplement of vitamin D3 of 1000 International Units (IU) once or twice per day, consumed during meals.

Additionally, you can boost your intake of vitamin D by eating fish and other foods fortified with the vitamin. 

For those who have a vitamin D deficiency, consult with your doctor or dietician for an accurate dosage of the supplement.

3. Zinc. Palacios said that zinc is crucial for normal development and functioning of cells mediating part of the immune system. She added that studies have shown that increased concentrations of zinc can inhibit the replication of viruses like poliovirus and SARS-coronavirus.

She recommended adults take a zinc supplement of 40 mg or less once a day.

Nutrients through food

Palacios recommended adults work several other nutrients into their diet through foods. While the following nutrients have not been proved to help in the fight against COVID-19, they do boost the immune system in general, so consuming them through foods is the way to go.

Vitamin A. Palacios recommended consuming the vitamin through foods including milk, dairy products and eggs, as well as orange and yellow fruits.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin). This vitamin helps the immune system by reducing inflammation and damage to the lungs, said Palacios. Foods high in Vitamin B3 include chicken, meats, fish, grains, beans and legumes and nuts.

Vitamin B9 (folate and folic acid) – studies have shown this vitamin can prevent respiratory infections in children, Palacios said. You can consume foods with folate in leafy greens like spinach and folic acid in fortified foods including pasta and bread.

Probiotics – Palacios added that certain strains of probiotics in specific situations can prevent upper respiratory tract infections. You can find probiotics in yogurt and fermented milk.

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