What Supplements Should You Take During the Pandemic?

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NOTE: This article is meant to enhance conventional medical recommendations, not replace them.
Please always speak to your licensed physician for your health care. This article is not medical advice.

In this newsletter, I will make some general recommendations for supplementation as prevention and as a potential addition to conventional treatments for Covid-19. For those looking for specific product recommendations, I will link to Fullscript, my online store;  I will also list products available from my Signature Supplements private label, which you can purchase by contacting my office.
 
Prevention:  What Should I Take To Keep from Getting Sick?
 
There is currently no supplement (or medication) that will keep you from (potentially) getting infected if you are exposed to the coronavirus.  What some supplements CAN offer, however, is evidence of being effective in supporting the immune system against viral infection.
Here are some basic items which you can take daily.  (Should you have any questions around specifics of dosing, brand, etc, feel free to reach out) :

Vitamin D3 2000 IU.  Many of you are already taking at least this much vitamin D every day.  For those who aren’t, Vitamin D deficiency is consistently associated with higher rates of infection in human studies.  A group in Granada, Spain, is studying Vitamin D for prevention and treatment of Coronavirus infection.

Available from Fullscript and Signature Supplements.
Food sources:  Fish, eggs and meat, particularly liver and kidney (Cod liver oil is a great source).

 

Zinc:  

 

This mineral is essential for immunity:  our thymus glands, which make T-cells, require zinc to properly function.  Deficiency in zinc is associated with compromised immunity and a higher risk for multiple types of infection.  Zinc supplementation has been shown to shorten the duration of the common cold.  Zinc has been one of the supplements continuously in short supply during the Covid outbreak.
Dose:  30 milligrams of Zinc citrate, picolinate, glycinate or oxide.
Available from Fullscript and Signature Supplements.
Food sources includes pumpkin seeds, fish, meat, eggs and cheese (and, of course, oysters).
Vitamin C
 
The most popular supplement these days, and for good reason. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is depleted during infection; since it’s not fat-soluble, it isn’t easily stored so we need to replenish it regularly.  Vitamin C is also a key antioxidant, protecting the body against the damage from free radicals produced during inflammation.
Many of us have read of Intravenous (IV) vitamin C being used for Covid patients to manage ARDS (advanced respiratory distress syndrome) cases, both in China and in the US.  A study in China was recently launched using 24 grams a day of IV vitamin C versus placebo in 140 patients with severe pneumonia.  We won’t know the results until September, unfortunately, but I would say the potential benefits certainly outweigh the risks of using IV vitamin C.
Dose:  I recommend Buffered Vitamin C when possible, to counter any stomach upset.  Most people can tolerate only 1-2 grams a day before they develop loose stools.  If you can, take more than that, up to what is called ” bowel tolerance”, where you develop loose stools.  Note:  the doses listed of IV vitamin C can’t be compared to what you achieve taking it by mouth. There are liposomal versions of Vitamin C available.  These products are absorbed more readily into our cells.  They work better than conventional capsules, tablets or powders, but not as well as IV.
Available from Fullscript and Signature Supplements.
Food sources:  peppers, citrus fruits, vegetables.
Elderberry Extract: NOT a Recommendation
 
Derived from the fruit of the Black Elder tree, elderberry has been used extensively to prevent and shorten the duration of colds and flus, with several research papers supporting its efficacy.  The catch here:  elderberry (best-known commercially under the Sambucol label) works by raising cytokine levels to activate the immune system.  With the dreaded cytokine storms associated with Covid-19 posing such a threat, anything that can contribute to this phenomenon should be avoided at this time.  If you insist on taking elderberry in hopes of preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection, please discontinue it at the first sign of symptoms.

 

What You May Want to Take If You Suspect or Have a Confirmed Infection
 
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)
 
An altered form of the amino acid cysteine, NAC supports detoxification and antioxidant activity as a component of glutathione.  It breaks up mucus in a similar way to guaifenesin (Mucinex), helping improve breathing in people with upper-respiratory infections.  It is given in an aerosolized form for people with blocked airways, and is now being used in combination with the blood thinner heparin to treat Covid-19 patients with ARDS.
Dose:  I recommend the 900 mg dose.  Take two twice a day.
Available from Fullscript and Signature Supplements.
Andrographis 
 
This herb has been used extensively in traditional medicine to treat viral infections.  It was being studied as a potential HIV treatment back in the 1990s.  It has been shown effective against the H5N1 Avian flu and studies using it to help treat Covid-19 are under consideration.  Andrographis is also anti-inflammatory, diminishing the risk of cytokine storm.
Dose:  50-60 mg of the active ingredient, andrographolides, a day.
Available from Fullscript and Signature Supplements.
Boswellia
Boswellia (Frankincense) has been shown to decrease inflammation via the lipooxygenase-5 (Lox-5) pathway, and has been proven to decrease airway inflammation in asthma patients.  This can be a useful addition in decreasing inflammation and to help asthma sufferers whose symptoms may be exacerbated by infection.
Dose:  300 mg of the active constituent, boswellia acids, a day.
Available from Fullscript and Signature Supplements.
I hope you find this information helpful.  As the whole world works to fight this terrible virus, new ideas and approaches are being brought to light daily.  One Swiss company is testing a high dose EPA (Omega 3 from fish oil) product.
What about Probiotics?  I think this comment from a responsible manufacturer put it very well:
“There is no scientific rationale of using probiotics to protect, prevent or treat COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 infection specifically.
Nevertheless, we strongly support the reinforcement of our immune system by any scientifically valid strategy. Help in maintaining a healthy gut microbial diversity and prevent, intestinal dysbiosis in elderly, infants and the general population is important.
Combining a healthy and balanced diet together with prebiotics, probiotics, vitamin supplementation, among others, could help us to reinforce our immune system during the COVID-19 outbreak.”
For more information and questions, please contact:
Gianfranco Grompone, Vice President Discovery and Research at BioGaia, gg@biogaia.se
As always, stay safe at home.  Please feel free to reach out via phone or email with any questions.
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