Can vitamins protect me against the Coronavirus?

Naturally, during such unprecedented times there are a lot of questions around how to stay healthy. Caring for your mind and body has never been so important and we’re here to help. As part of our Question and Answer series, we have taken a deep-dive into ways you can maintain your immune system and the ways in which vitamins can help.

With so many unknowns, the most important thing you can do to protect yourself is arm your immune system as best you can. Firstly, focus on the basics, make sure you eat plenty of fruit and veg, ideally 7-10 portions per day(!) as this will help to build solid foundations in the battle against invading viruses or bacteria. Remember to ‘eat the rainbow’ – including plenty of different colours on your plate means providing your body with a wide range of vitamins and minerals, essential for a well-functioning immune system. Did you know colour can indicate nutritional status? For example, orange fruit and veg like carrots are high in beta-carotene (vitamin A), and purple varieties such blueberries contain powerful antioxidants. 

Protein should be an important component of every meal and snack, not only does it help to balance blood sugar levels and promote a steady stream of energy, it forms the building blocks for many of the body’s immune cells. Diets that are too low in protein can have a negative impact on immunity. Fish, meat, eggs and dairy are all good sources, for veggies and vegans choose tofu or tempeh and add a liberal sprinkling of nuts and seeds over everything.

70-80% of the immune system is found in the gut and feeding friendly bacteria with probiotic foods such as yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut and miso can help to boost immunity. Fibre is also a key ingredient for healthy digestion, in turn promoting a more robust immune system.

Vitamin C is our body’s number 1 healing nutrient and along with zinc can help to protect against viruses. Humans aren’t able to naturally make vitamin C, so we need to make sure we have plenty in our diet or through supplementation. 

Vitamin B12 is another key nutrient for immune function – it is involved in DNA synthesis and deficiency can impact the number and activity of certain immune cells. Low levels are fairly common, especially for vegetarians and vegans as it is primarily found in animal products. 

Remember it’s not just diet than can influence immune health, a lack of exercise as well as over-exercising can suppress immune function so work out within your abilities, try to keep stress to a minimum and aim to maximise sleep!

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