How multivitamins can play an active role during COVID 19?
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As per WHO, the two most important and effective and proven methods to reduce the risk and spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is social distancing and regular hand washing. However, few more questions pop in our mind like where to shop safely or to prepare our meals, but we all are curious to know about the specific role of our diet and nutrients in improving our immunity during this pandemic time.
Let’s Understand the Relationship between Nutrition and Immunity
Your immune system consists of a complex collection of cells, processes, and chemicals that constantly defends your body against invading pathogens, including viruses, toxins, and bacteria.
Keeping your immune system healthy year-round is a key to preventing infection and disease. Well, Immunity cannot be built overnight; it requires proper nutrition on a day to day basis to allow its cells, processes, and chemicals to be ready to fight against the viruses.
Consuming a balanced and healthy diet is a must, and this is particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic. A healthy diet comprises of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts, moderate consumption of fish, dairy foods, and poultry, and limited intake of red and processed meat, refined carbohydrates, and sugar.
Such a diet will provide appropriate amounts of healthy macronutrients and essential minerals and vitamins. In addition, research has shown that supplementing with certain vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other substances can improve immune response and potentially protect against illness
What Are The Basic Vitamins And Minerals Required?
Vitamins can be categorized into fat-soluble vitamins, and these are vitamins A, D, E and K, and water-soluble vitamins, which are the B vitamins family and vitamin C.
Water-soluble vitamins are absorbed directly into the bloodstream. They circulate through the body in water-filled areas. Excess amounts of water-soluble vitamins are excreted from the body so they must be replenished regularly. The B complex vitamins and vitamin C are water-soluble. As a rule, water-soluble vitamins are not readily stored in the body.
Vitamin C encourages the production of white blood cells which helps the body protect against the infection.
B complex vitamins don’t just give your body the energy it needs by breaking down digestive proteins, but also help fight the disease-causing bacteria and viruses by increasing the number of white blood cells in your body and synthesizing the antibodies that strengthen your immune system. Vegetarians or vegan should consume B-complex vitamins especially vitamin B12 to fulfill the gap between deficiency and requirement.
Fat-soluble vitamins are transported through the body via the lymph system then to the blood.
They are stored in the liver and fat cells throughout the body, and are less likely to be excreted from the body. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble. These vitamins are better absorbed if consumed with dietary fat.
All these nutrients play a very important and interconnected role to help support our immune system. Vitamin D a fat-soluble vitamin along with maintaining healthy bones and joints, it is a key nutrient for the body’s immune system. Vitamin A is involved in normal growth and development and all the vitamins play an important role in cellular function. Vitamin K is also very important because it plays a role in blood clotting. Vitamin E protects the structural elements of cell membranes. Vitamin E functions as a chain-breaking antioxidant and helps maintain cell health and function.
Macro and Trace Minerals
There are two types of minerals, macro and trace minerals, classified by how much the body needs. Macrominerals like Calcium, phosphorus or magnesium etc. are grouped together because the body needs relatively significant amounts of them. Trace minerals like iron, zinc or selenium, etc. are needed in smaller amounts. And all these minerals do play a major role in the normal functioning of our body and immune system. Like Zinc, though required in smaller amounts, it playa an essential role in cell metabolism. Selenium taken in combination with Vitamin E can help keep the disease-causing pathogens at bay.
What is the role of a multivitamin in the COVID-19 Pandemic?
A 2015 study has indicated that approximately 75% of the Indian population is deficient in vitamins. Such statistics show that our diet does not provide us all the vitamins and minerals, which makes it imperative for us to incorporate multivitamin supplements in our daily routine.
Even when people eat an ideal diet, foods are often depleted of certain nutrients due to the modern agricultural process, harvesting, transporting, freezing, and cooking. As rightly mentioned in the Harvard university publication, currently, the ongoing lockdown is likely to put many more individuals at risk of food insecurity and make consuming a healthy diet even more difficult. Therefore, a practical approach would be to include multivitamin supplements which include all the nutrients along with the natural sources to help fill some gaps.
Multivitamin” does not mean vitamins linked together. Vitamins are single structures that do not link together to form longer chains, unlike amino acids and glucose. A multivitamin is a supplement, which can include several different vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other beneficial ingredients!
How to Choose a Multivitamin?
It is always recommended to consider lifestyle, stage of life, gender, dietary choices, and health concerns before choosing any multivitamin. Another popular consideration is a multivitamin that releases nutrients all at once or gradually over an extended period of time.
Many people consider the source of some of the vitamins in the formulation or the type. Examples: Is vitamin E natural or synthetic (dl-alpha or d-alpha, respectively)? What percentage of vitamin A is from beta carotene? Is the vitamin D in the form of D1, D2 or D3?
GNC offers a wide array of choices in multivitamins, each customized by our experts for specific goals, gender, and lifestyles. Remember, the right multivitamin can help you on your journey towards leading a healthy life!
Apart from taking correct supplements, make sure you sleep for a minimum of 6 – 8 hours a day, exercise well, do not stress about the infection, and reduce alcohol and smoking. This entire process will definitely help you fight against the novel coronavirus, but also improve the chances of getting out of it sooner and better! Till then, Stay Safe, Stay Home, Live Well!
- Kamangar F, Emadi A. Vitamin and mineral supplements: do we really need them?. Int J Prev Med. 2012;3(3):221–226.
- Maggini S, Pierre A, Calder PC. Immune Function and Micronutrient Requirements Change over the Life Course. Nutrients. 2018;10(10):1531. Published 2018 Oct 17. doi:10.3390/nu10101531