- which many people lack
It is not the actual COVID-19 virus that can become lethal. It is the immune system’s overreaction with hyperinflammation and a storm of cytokines that destroys healthy tissue in the lungs, the cardiovascular system, and other places in the body, according to a new article that is published in The Lancet. The capacity of the immune system determines if an infection like COVID-19 is either harmless or life-threatening. For that reason, hygienic measures, masks, isolation, and delayed vaccines are not sufficient. We also need to bolster our immune system against COVID-19 and other pandemics that may occur in the future. Let’s look closer at vitamin C, vitamin D, selenium and zinc, all of which are essential for preventing a well-functioning immune system from going off its rails. What is also worth mentioning is that many people lack these nutrients, especially older people and other exposed groups.
According to a new study from Johns Hopkins University in the United States, vitamin D is able to protect overweight children against asthma caused by urban air pollution. Sunshine during the summer period is the main source of vitamin D, but due to our modern lifestyles, many people, including children, fail to get enough of the nutrient. This may have widespread consequences, as lack of vitamin D also increases the risk of overweight.
Lack of vitamin D is rather common and taking large quantities of the nutrient can not only protect against virus infections like COVID-19 but even counteract the life-threatening complications in those affected with the disease, according to a new, comprehensive, Irish report (TILDA) from Trinity College Dublin (University of Dublin in Ireland). The TILDA report supports many other published studies showing that the immune system is unable to function without vitamin D. The main focus in the battle against COVID-19 is hygiene, isolation, and delayed immunization with vaccines. However, it is also essential to bolster the immune defense, as this determines the difference between being able to ward off the infection, suffer mild symptoms only, or succumb. The scientists recommend that all adults take a high-dosed vitamin D supplement, especially older people, nursing home residents, chronically ill people, hospital patients, health professionals and other exposed groups. That way, we are better protected against future epidemics.
- intake that also reduces their need for medicine
An estimated 334 million people worldwide suffer from asthma, which is associated with chronic inflammation. Increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent the disease and improve therapies by reducing inflammation in the upper respiratory tract. Also, omega-3 reduces the need for corticosteroids and other types of asthma medicine. In fact, the diet plays a vital role in the development of asthma, and overweight individuals seem to benefit particularly much from an increased omega-3 intake, according to a study that is published in Nutrients. But how much omega-3 does it take to inhibit inflammation, and why are oily fish and fish oil supplements better sources?
The coronavirus has spread from Wuhan in China to a number of continents, where it has caused massive fear and affected daily life and the global economy. Although most people that get the infection experience a mild course of events, the greatest fear is the potentially life-threatening complications in the respiratory system caused by oxidative stress, which have already taken thousands of human lives. Chinese scientists now call for early intravenous therapy with large doses of vitamin C to prevent oxidative stress and the life-threatening complications that follow in the wake of a derailed immune system. Many researchers also claim that higher intake of vitamin C from dietary sources or supplements help prevent by boosting and regulating the immune system in the upper respiratory tract. The same goes for vitamin D and selenium.
Vitamin D is of vital importance to a well-functioning immune defense and it protects against virus infections. This has been confirmed by Denmark’s infection control agency, Statens Serum Institut, and researchers from Harvard University in Boston, USA. In a study, the Danish and American scientists found that having low levels of vitamin D in the blood is associated with a greater risk of severe disease outcome in patients with COVID-19.
According to a new English study, increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids during the childhood years may lower your risk of developing asthma later in life but only if you have a specific gene variation. In addition, a previous Australian study reports that lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids in adults is associated with poorer asthma control. Diet generally seems to play a major role in the development of the disease and overweight individuals appear to benefit more than others from increasing their omega-3 intake. The big question is how much do they need to take?
It is hardly a coincidence that sore throats, colds, flus, and related complications such as sinus infections and pneumonia typically circulate during the winter period. They are primarily a result of having low vitamin D levels. During the winter, the sun sits too low in the sky to enable vitamin D synthesis in our skin, and we only have a limited amount of the nutrient stored in the liver. Good hand hygiene, warm soup, garlic, echinacea and other immune-boosting herbs alone will not deal with the problem, as they can never compensate for our lack of essential vitamin D, which the white blood cells of our immune system need in order to silently kill of virus. But how much vitamin D do we need, is it possible to get too much, and which mineral is necessary for activating the vitamin?
Vitamin C is of vital importance to our immune defense, and it serves as a powerful antioxidant to protect cells and tissues. Large quantities of vitamin C are able to improve lung function in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other chronic lung disorders. This was demonstrated in a large meta-analysis published in International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
An international science team from the University of Surrey in England has found a link between low selenium levels in the soil and the risk od COVID-19 infections becoming lethal. Professor Margaret Rayman, who headed the study, has spent decades studying the global lack of selenium that is known to impair the ability of the immune system to tackle virus infections and new epidemics. The farmlands in large parts of the world, including Europe and China, are low in selenium, and it is vital to have more focus on this essential nutrient.
Australian scientists are about to initiate the first clinical trial of intravenous zinc therapy for COVID-19 patients. Zinc is important for our immune capacity but it also helps counteract organ damage caused by an impaired oxygen supply to the cells and hyperinflammation. Zinc deficiencies are common, especially among older people, chronically ill, and other exposed groups.
Most chronic pulmonary diseases – including asthma, bronchitis, and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) – are characterized by chronic inflammation that makes both the symptoms and the prognosis worse. Fish and fish oil supplements contain specific omega-3 fatty acids that appear to have an anti-inflammatory effect and may therefore be useful as both prevention and therapy for chronic pulmonary diseases. This was demonstrated in a large American population study that also included Europeans. What the researchers also mention is that people who fail to meet the official guidelines for fish consumption are often at increased risk of developing chronic lung diseases.
- while omega-6 can aggravate the disease
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in our diet have opposite effects on the severity of asthma in vulnerable children. Omega-3 appears to reduce the severity of asthma symptoms, while omega-6 seems to make the symptoms worse, according to an article published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Clinical Care Medicine. The problem with modern diets is that they tend to contain far too little omega-3 and far too much omega-6. However, this is something one can correct with help from dietary changes and fish oil supplements.
Nasal polyps are local growths that may cause runny nose, breathing difficulty, reduced sense of smell, and other symptoms. The polyps are a result of chronic inflammation that can have its roots in a number of causes. According to a new study that is published in Clinical Epidemiology and Global Health, patients with nasal polyps have lower levels of zinc in the affected tissue. Zinc is important for our immune system and for regulating inflammatory processes. Therefore, the nutrient may even have therapeutic potential because many people have relapses after their treatment. Earlier studies even suggest that patients with nasal polyps lack selenium, which is why one should also pay attention to underlying causes like respiratory allergies and food intolerance.
Since the 1950s, the rate of asthma has increased dramatically, especially among children and adolescents. Altered diet habits play a significant role, and now a Swedish population study shows that children who get too little omega-3 and too much omega-6 in their diets have an increased risk of developing asthma later in life. There is also evidence that increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish or from fish oil supplements can counteract the inflammatory processes that are seen with asthma.
Babies and small children are less likely to develop croup if their mothers have taken high-dosed vitamin D and fish oil during their pregnancy, according to a Danish study, where scientists have studied this relation for the very first time. Vitamin D and fish oil also benefit the child’s immune defense and counteract the inflammation in the respiratory system that triggers croup. The two supplements even have a positive impact on the child’s bone health and nervous system, and they also help prevent asthma.
Many of us contract respiratory infections during the winter period. In many cases, the underlying cause is a deficiency of vitamin D, a key nutrient for immune health. Vitamin D also regulates the body’s inflammatory response, thereby preventing it from getting out of hand and becoming complicated or life-threatening. In a new review article, researchers looked at vitamin D’s role in preventing and fighting acute respiratory infections such as COVID-19 and influenza with particular focus on children and youngsters. The scientists point out that many people need to take higher doses of vitamin D to optimize levels of the nutrient in their blood.
Vitamin D plays a major role in our health. The main focus, however, is on vitamin D’s importance for bones, while many health professionals are totally unaware of the nutrient’s other essential functions. According to a review article published in Nutrients, half the global population has low vitamin D levels in the blood, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, respiratory infections like COVID-19, and early death. The authors also mention that vitamin D science is often inadequate or misleading because studies focus on supplementation rather than looking at blood levels of 25(OH)D. Consequently, trials are often made with far too small vitamin D doses or with too a short a trial period. In either case, blood levels of vitamin D fail to reach their optimum. What is more, levels of 25(OH)D in the blood should ideally be above 75 nmol/L in order to protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer, and early death. Because this threshold level is higher than the official threshold levels, the scientists recommend high-dosed vitamin D levels as a way to reach an optimal nutrient status.
COPD, a lung disease that is primarily a result of smoking, is one of the leading causes of death. Asthma, however, may also become life-threatening if it is left untreated. According to a meta-analysis published in Journal of Global Health, vitamin D supplementation may improve lung function in both diseases. The authors look at how vitamin D strengthens the immune defense and controls inflammation.
The immune system is of vital importance to our ability to react to a COVID-19 infection. Most people don’t get any symptoms or only have mild ones, whereas the infection can become complicated and potentially life-threatening for certain exposed groups of people. Numerous studies have shown that our immune defense depends on different vitamins and minerals to function optimally. Now, a meta-analysis has shown that zinc supplementation can lower the mortality rate among COVID-19 patients. Many older people, chronically ill patients, and other vulnerable groups tend to lack zinc. This is a problem because the nutrient is not only essential for a well-functioning immune defense but also protects cells and tissues against damage caused by oxidative stress.