Boost your immunity with these food items amid pandemic

Boost your immunity with these food items amid pandemic

  • April 1, 2021

New Delhi: It is our immunity that protects us from viruses and foreign invaders of our body that try to infect us. Especially in the times of Covid-19, it has become very important for us to boost our immunity from within to fight the deadly virus. Here are some food items that you can stack in your shelves to improve your immunity:

Papaya:

This fruit is rich in vitamin A, B, C, and K. It is an excellent immunity booster and keeps your heart healthy. Raw papaya pulp contains 88 per cent water and 11 per cent carbohydrates. Papaya fruits provide 43  kilocalories. Papaya leaves can also be used for the treatment of Malaria, Abortifacient and Purgative.

Almonds:

Almonds are rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fiber, so there are a number of health benefits of consuming these nuts. Almonds are a good source of calcium and antioxidants as well. Consuming almonds daily will surely improve your health as they are also high in Vitamin E, which helps to support the pulmonary immune system.

Ginger:

Ginger helps in decreasing inflammation and in dealing with stomach issues amongst other things. Ginger can also be used for medicinal purposes because of its rich nutritional properties. It also has  anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help in fighting infections. It contains vitamin B6 and minerals like magnesium and manganese. Raw ginger has around 79 per cent water, 18 per cent carbohydrates, 2 per cent protein and and 1 per cent fat.

Green Tea:

Green tea is filled with nutrients and antioxidants properties. It also keeps your blood sugar level in control and also improves your metabolism rate. Green tea contains amino acid, vitamin C, vitamin B2 and vitamin E. It also contains minerals such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus, manganese etc.

Broccoli:

Broccoli is a stock house of vitamins and minerals. This vegetable is also rich in fiber and antioxidants. Broccoli contains many nutrients, including fiber, iron, potassium, and vitamin K.

Turmeric:

You can never go wrong with Haldi. These roots are extremely beneficial in boosting immunity. Turmeric contained 3-5 per cent of curcumin, a photo-derivative, which contains healing  properties. It also has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.

Spinach:

Packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene which increase the infection-fighting ability of the immune system. It contains a high amount of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E which help to prevent infection and fill up blood cells to give a boost to the immune system.

Citrus fruits:

Consuming citrus fruits containing vitamin C is immensely good for our health and our immune system. It produces white blood cells, which are necessary to fight infection. Some popular varieties of citrus fruits are sweet oranges, lemons, grapefruit, lime etc.

4 Vitamins to Boost Your Immune System

4 Vitamins to Boost Your Immune System

  • March 31, 2021

At Townsquare Media, we believe wellness is important for our community to thrive. Every Wednesday, we’ll feature a wellness leader in our community. Wellness Wednesday is made possible thanks to our partners Benchmark Medical Group.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us all the importance of protecting our immune systems. But with thousands of vitamin options out there, it can be hard to know where to start.

That’s why Benchmark Medical Group offers IV Nutrition and Detoxification Therapy through their IV bar, which provides patients with specific nutrients that can improve their cellular function and boost their immune systems.

We interviewed Benchmark Medical Group’s Dr. Sandy Valdes Haas about the Windsor wellness center’s IV bar and the vitamins that she recommends to her patients.

Wellness Wednesday: Q&A With Dr. Sandy Valdes Haas

These Vitamins Are Needed Before Your COVID Vaccine, Doctor Says

These Vitamins Are Needed Before Your COVID Vaccine, Doctor Says

  • March 29, 2021
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As COVID vaccine eligibility is opening up for millions more Americans across the nation, many people are preparing for their long-awaited, life-saving shots. More than 95 million people in the U.S.—approximately 28 percent of the population—have already received at least one dose of their coronavirus vaccine, as of Mar. 28, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you’re in the remainder of the not-yet-vaccinated population, Andrew Myers, MD, a naturopathic physician who co-authored the soon-to-be released book Simplifying the COVID-19 Puzzle, has shared with our sister site, Eat This Not That Health, which vitamins could help you have a strong reaction to the COVID vaccine.

“The stronger an individual’s immune system, the more responsive they are to a vaccine,” Myers told ETNT Health. The vaccines work by introducing the threat of the virus (either via an mRNA vaccine like Pfizer or Moderna or a viral vector vaccine like Johnson & Johnson) to your body, prompting your immune system to recognize it and be prepared to fight it off in the future. And, in order to strengthen your immune system, Myers suggests turning to supplements and vitamins. “Supplemental nutrition is the most direct way to impact your immune health and function in the near term, and the following nutrients are essential as a part of your immune-boosting efforts,” he said. Read on to discover what vitamins the doctor recommends, and for more ways to prepare for your COVID vaccination, check out 2 Things You Need to Stop Eating Before Your COVID Vaccine, New Study Says.

young man in white shirt standing in white bathroom taking vitamins out of a pill bottle in his hand
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According to Myers, vitamin K2 is one of the five essential nutrients to boost your body’s immunity, in addition to incorporating healthy food into your regular diet.

Myers said research he collected with his co-author, Grace McComsey, MD, “indicates that insufficient levels of vitamin K2 … are directly related to our susceptibility to COVID-19 and the seriousness of the outcomes should you become hospitalized.”

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) describes vitamin K has a nutrient ideal for blood clotting and healthy bones. Myers explained that vitamin K2 is still “critical,” but, as Healthline explains, K2 is “mainly found in certain animal and fermented foods, which most people don’t eat much of,” so there are multivitamin/multimineral supplements that you can take instead. However, you should talk to your doctor before adding any supplements of K2, or any other vitamin on this list, to your routine.

And for the vitamin to steer clear of, check out If You’re Overdoing This Supplement, Your Heart Is at Risk, Doctors Say.

doctor trying to sell vitamins to a pregnant woman
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Additionally, vitamin D3 is useful in helping your body get ready for a vaccine. “Vitamin K2 and vitamin D3 work synergistically to improve our body’s ability to mount a robust immune response and regulate healthy inflammation,” Myers explained.

Healthline says that D3, a type of vitamin D, is only found in animal-sourced foods—oily fish and fish oil, liver, egg yolk, and butter—as well as dietary supplements.

“If somebody has nutritional deficiencies, nutrient deficiencies, then their immune system is not going to be operating at optimum levels,” Katherine Basbaum, RD, of UVA Health System, told the Daily Press. In regards to taking supplements like D3, Basbaum said, “if you take somebody with known vitamin, mineral deficiencies, and they’re kind of going into getting the vaccine with this weaker immune system, could it be beneficial? Possibly.”

And for more up-to-date COVID news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

vitamin C pills and plastic bottle on the wooden table
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Another potentially helpful nutrient for your COVID vaccine is vitamin C, Myers noted. Vitamin C helps form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle, and collagen in bones, according to the Mayo Clinic. “Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps protect your cells against the effects of free radicals—which might play a role in heart disease, cancer, and other diseases,” the experts at the Mayo Clinic explain.

While Heather Koza, MD, a family medicine physician in Michigan, told Eating Well that “there is not enough research to support that anti-inflammatory foods or supplements such as vitamin C will make the COVID vaccine more effective … in general, eating highly nutritious food and taking vitamin C does help the immune system.”

Louis Malinow, MD, an internal medicine physician in Maryland, also spoke with the website, and supported the intake of healthy food and dietary supplements to improve immunity. “A healthy diet that is maintained long-term can improve immune responsiveness and help us fight infections better and perhaps boost immune response to vaccination,” he said.

And for more day-of prep advice, find out why Doctors Say Do These 2 Things the Morning of Your Vaccine Appointment.

Vitamin pills spilling from an open bottle
iStock

Myers also suggests people take zinc to build up immunity prior to their COVID vaccine. According to health retailer Holland and Barrett, zinc “activates enzymes that break down proteins in viruses and bacteria so they are less able to spread.” Additionally, the nutrient “increases the activation of cells responsible for fighting infection.”

Findings from an Apr. 2020 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine suggest that zinc supports anti-viral immunity and decreases inflammation in the body.

The nutrient cannot be created by the human body, however, it can be taken in through beans, dairy, shellfish, and whole grains.

omega 3 fish oil supplements
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Myers also recommends people take omega-3, “from either concentrated fish oil or vegan sources like Ahi Flower,” as an immune-boosting measure. Omega-3 can also be found in krill oil, cod liver oil, and algal oil, another vegan source from algae. The NIH says that the most important omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)—which is found in flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils—eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are found in various types of seafood.

“Omega-3s are important components of the membranes that surround each cell in your body,” the NIH explains. “Omega-3s also provide calories to give your body energy and have many functions in your heart, blood vessels, lungs, immune system, and endocrine system (the network of hormone-producing glands).”

And for more news on supplements, check out This Is the One Vitamin You Should Never Take, Doctors Say.

Local pharmacist encourages vitamins to boost immune system, some could help prevent COVID-19

Local pharmacist encourages vitamins to boost immune system, some could help prevent COVID-19

  • March 26, 2021

PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Health experts say supplements are an important staple to keep us all healthy, not only with COVID-19 but every cold and flu season.

“The main one is vitamin D. Many studies have shown that a high level of vitamin D will help boost your immune system and even help prevent COVID infections. You get vitamin D from sunlight but not enough,” said Nicolette Mathey, Pharmacist and Owner of Palm Harbor Pharmacy.

She says a new study shows having high vitamin D levels may lower your chance of getting COVID-19.

There are other vitamins too that could help you fight the virus.

For immune boosting supplements, Mathey suggests people take:

  • vitamin D: anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 units daily
  • vitamin C: 1,000 milligrams daily
  • zinc: 50 milligrams daily
  • quercetin

Experts say zinc may upset your stomach, so it’s a good idea to take it with food.

“Zinc helps to break up any sort of virus particles and so zinc is really good to have on board,” said Mathey.

She says these supplements could help kids too.

“I know kids can be picky. They’ll maybe eat a Flintstones gummy or something, but if you could get vitamin D to your kids and a multivitamin. There’s not enough vitamin D in the multivitamin for kids. We even have liquid vitamin D drops that are formulated for kids because at least you could give them that and know that their immune system is boosted,” said Mathey.

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Immune health and vitamins D and K2

  • March 25, 2021

Overcoming micronutrient deficiencies such as zinc and vitamins C, D and K2 has gained attention as a potential part of building a strategic response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Research supporting vitamin D supplementation is already compelling and quickly gaining government and public notice. Vitamin K has long remained in the shadows, but recent studies suggest it might benefit the immune system.

Vitamin D for immunity

Several meta-analyses have already demonstrated vitamin D benefits against respiratory tract infections; low levels of vitamin D were associated with a higher risk for infection and symptoms severity.1-4 Similar findings have been published regarding an association of low vitamin D levels and a higher risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection.5-12

D, K2: A common connection to calcium

Vitamin D intake is generally regarded as safe, but high doses of vitamin D could induce short-term hypercalcemia, a transient increase in serum calcium levels.13 Calcium, although vital for the normal function of the human body, may have deleterious consequences when it cannot be properly absorbed into the bone matrix.14 Deposition of calcium in the blood vessels, or on elastic fibers in the lungs, can lead to damages.15,16,17 Co-supplementation of D with vitamin K2 may minimize this calcification risk.14

Through their common connection to calcium metabolism, vitamin D and K may work in pair for bone, vascular and immune health. But scientists postulate that vitamin D intake in a vitamin K deficiency state could endanger both pulmonary and vascular health.13,18,19 This may be even more relevant in COVID-19 patients, whose lungs and vascular health are already compromised. Hence, taking adequate amounts of the circulating form of vitamin K2 along with D may be a better strategy. Furthermore, research points to the potential involvement of vitamin K in COVID-19 coagulopathy, which goes beyond mitigating the calcification risk induced by high vitamin D intake.13

Vitamin K2: The underrated vitamin

Insufficiency of vitamin K2 is thought to be common in Western populations due to dietary reasons.14 Because of their structural differences, vitamins K1 and K2 have different metabolic outcomes.20,21 K1 is directly taken by the liver, where it is used to activate vital coagulation factors. K2 on the other hand is left available for the rest of the body to activate different, yet equally crucial, proteins. In bones, they incorporate calcium into the bone matrix. In soft tissues like blood vessels or the lungs, they prevent calcium deposition, elastic fiber degradation, thrombosis and inflammation.13

K2 implications in COVID-19

The latest research shows that poor COVID-19 outcomes correlate with low vitamin K status.22 A recent study evaluating serum vitamin K levels in COVID-19 hospitalized patients showed that those with poor outcomes of COVID-19 had the lowest levels of vitamin K. In comparison, people who tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 infection showed adequate vitamin K levels. Surprisingly, unpublished research showed patients with sufficient D levels had accelerated elastic fiber degradation, compared to those with mild deficiency. The study authors explained that by promoting K-dependent proteins’ production, vitamin D might have unfavorable pro-calcification effects, and that vitamin K may compensate for the latter.

A second unpublished study later confirmed this correlation; K2 status was significantly lower among COVID-19 patients, and a statistical analysis showed mortality among COVID-19 patients to be strongly dependent on vitamin K status. “This suggests that vitamin K plays a role in the disease mechanisms,” the authors noted.

The ‘missing link’ in COVID-19

The British Journal of Nutrition published a review of the available scientific literature on vitamin K metabolism and its connection to COVID-19.13 The authors presented vitamin K deficiency as the potential missing link between lung damage and thromboembolism, two of the most severe outcomes observed in COVID-19.

Vitamin K2 has also been described as one of the best potential ligands to the recently discovered fatty acid binding site in SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.23 Research suggests its binding would stabilize the locked spike conformation, thus reducing the opportunity of interaction with ACE2 receptor (through which SARS-CoV-2 enters host cells), limiting infection risks.

K2 for the immune system

Vitamin K may also play a role in the body’s response to inflammation.24 Scientific support points to vitamin K’s role in the modulation of the cell signaling complex, nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-kB).25 This major transcription factor helps regulates genes responsible for both the innate and adaptive immune response. Vitamin K can regulate the activation of the NF-kB pathway, modulating the immune and inflammatory responses. Similarly, vitamin K inhibits cytokine release, among which the potent cytokine interleukin (IL)-6,26 which is used as an inflammatory marker for severe COVID-19 infection with poor prognosis, noted several presenters at a virtual cardiovascular conference hosted in April 2020 by Imperial College London.

Research is ongoing

A clinical trial investigating possible benefits of vitamin K2 supplementation in COVID-19 patients has been initiated by the Canisius Wilhelmina Hospital, Nijmegen, Netherlands. Funded by Kappa Bioscience, the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled “KOVIT” trial aims to evaluate whether vitamin K status affects elastic fibers degradation in the lungs. Research will be led by two doctors—pulmonologist Rob Janssen, Ph.D., and coordinating investigator Jona Walk, Ph.D., resident in internal medicine.

“There is a need for further experimental evidence to link vitamin K deficiency with the pathology of COVID-19 and determine whether vitamin K2 supplementation has a place in treatment protocols,” Janssen detailed. “The potential role of vitamin K2 supplementation to prevent development of severe COVID-19 in subjects who have not yet contracted COVID-19, but are at risk for the infection, is also very relevant to assess.”

Kappa Bioscience AS is entering research agreements with several research centers in Europe and the U.S. The company aims to support research to generate a better understanding around vitamin K2 deficiency and COVID-19 pathogenesis.

Based on the recently published science, it is important to seek more understanding about the potential role of vitamin K2 in COVID-19 and immune health through research collaborations with experts in the field.

Trygve Bergeland is the vice president of science at Kappa Bioscience.

To read related content, click the following link to access the “Immune health rising” digital magazine.

 

References

1 Bergman P et al. “Vitamin D and respiratory tract infections: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” PloS One. 2013;8(6):e65835.

2 Martineau AR et al. “Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data.” BMJ. 2017;356:i6583.

3 Pham H et al. “Acute respiratory tract infection and 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019;16(17):3020.

4 Zhou YF, Luo BA, Qin LL. “The association between vitamin D deficiency and community-acquired pneumonia: A meta-analysis of observational studies.” Medicine. 2019;98(38).

5 Ali N. “Role of Vitamin D in Preventing of COVID-19 Infection, Progression and Severity.” J Infect Public Health. 2020;13(10):1373-1380.

6 D’Avolio A et al. “25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations are lower in patients with positive PCR for SARS-CoV-2.” Nutrients. 2020;12(5):1359.

7 Ilie PC, Stefanescu S, Smith L. “The role of vitamin D in the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 infection and mortality.” Aging Clin Exp Res. 2020:1-4.

8 Im JH et al. “Nutritional status of patients with COVID-19.” Int J Infect Dis. 2020;100:390-393.

9 Kaufman HW et al. “SARS-CoV-2 positivity rates associated with circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels.” PLoS One. 2020;15(9):e0239252.

10 Meltzer DO et al. “Association of vitamin D status and other clinical characteristics with COVID-19 test results.” JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(9):e2019722-e2019722.

11 Panagiotou G et al. “Low serum 25‐hydroxyvitamin D (25 [OH] D) levels in patients hospitalized with COVID‐19 are associated with greater disease severity.” Clin Endocrinol. 2020;93(4):508-511.

12 Radujkovic A et al. “Vitamin D Deficiency and Outcome of COVID-19 Patients.” Nutrients. 2020;12(9):2757.

13 Janssen R et al. “Vitamin K metabolism as the potential missing link between lung damage and thromboembolism in Covid-19.” Br J Nutr. 2020;1-25.

14 Maresz K. “Proper calcium use: vitamin K2 as a promoter of bone and cardiovascular health.” Integr Med: Clin J. 2015;14(1):34.

15 Lutsey PL, Michos ED. “Vitamin D, calcium, and atherosclerotic risk: evidence from serum levels and supplementation studies.” Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2013;15(1):293.

16 Sung KC et al. “High levels of serum vitamin D are associated with a decreased risk of metabolic diseases in both men and women, but an increased risk for coronary artery calcification in Korean men.” Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2016;15(1):112.

17 Wang J et al. “Vitamin D in vascular calcification: a double-edged sword?” Nutrients. 2018;10(5):652.

18 Price PA, Buckley JR, Williamson MK. “The amino bisphosphonate ibandronate prevents vitamin D toxicity and inhibits vitamin D-induced calcification of arteries, cartilage, lungs and kidneys in rats.” J Nutr. 2001;131(11):2910-2915.

19 Van Ballegooijen AJ et al. “Joint association of vitamins D and K status with long-term outcomes in stable kidney transplant recipients.” Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2020;35(4):706-714.

20 Vermeer CV. “Vitamin K: the effect on health beyond coagulation – an overview.” Food Nutr Res. 2012;56(1):5329.

21 Schurgers LJ, Vermeer CV. “Differential lipoprotein transport pathways of K-vitamins in healthy subjects.” Biochim Biophys Acta Gen Subj. 2002;1570(1):27-32.

22 Dofferhoff ASM et al. “Reduced Vitamin K Status as a Potentially Modifiable Risk Factor of Severe Coronavirus Disease 2019.” Clin Infect Dis. 2020:ciaa1258.

23 Shoemark DK et al. “Molecular Simulations suggest Vitamins, Retinoids and Steroids as Ligands of the Free Fatty Acid Pocket of the SARS‐CoV‐2 Spike Protein.” Angewandte Chemie. 2021;60(13):7098-7110.

24 Reddi K et al. “Interleukin 6 production by lipopolysaccharide-stimulated human fibroblasts is potently inhibited by naphthoquinone (vitamin K) compounds.” Cytokine. 1995;7(3):287-290.

25 Ghosh S, Dass JFP. “Study of pathway cross-talk interactions with NF-κB leading to its activation via ubiquitination or phosphorylation: A brief review.” Gene. 2016;584(1):97-109.

26 Rossol M et al. “LPS-induced cytokine production in human monocytes and macrophages.” Crit Rev Immunol. 2011;31(5):379-446.

How COVID-19 revitalized interest in familiar letter vitamins

How COVID-19 revitalized interest in familiar letter vitamins

  • March 24, 2021

It’s amazing what a little hindsight can do. Roughly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, you can almost make out—if you squint hard enough—the glimmers of silver lining that this horribly disruptive episode in global health may have left behind.

Perhaps most relevant to the dietary supplement industry is the sales boost the sector enjoyed when consumers—either newly awakened to, or simply reminded of, the importance of baseline wellness—turned to nutritional products as a backstop against illness. And, as Saumil Maheshvari, CMO, Orgenetics (Brea, CA), points out, they turned in particular to a class of products that was due for a boost.

“While scientists and doctors rushed to learn more about the new virus and how the body responds, a few things became clear,” he recalls. “First, a strong immune system and healthy lifestyle provided the best fighting chance against the disease, should one contract it. And vitamins—plain and simple—are known, and proven, to help bolster the immune response.”

As a result, back-to-basics As, Bs, and Cs (and Ds, and Ks, and Es) are basking in a kind of cool that they haven’t had in…forever, maybe. And if the research keeps mounting, they may hold onto that cachet long after the reason for their rediscovery is over.

From Panic to Purchase

Consumer concern about COVID-19 clearly “drove many to single-vitamin options early on,” Maheshvari says. And while surprising at first, this panicked purchasing of vitamin products has become a familiar pandemic-era theme.

“It’s similar to the story we’ve seen with Clorox wipes and Purell hand sanitizer since spring of last year: demand racing as consumers rushed to stock up while new consumers entering the market sought to boost their own health according to available guidance,” he notes.

But while the stockpiling of sanitizer eventually abated, demand for supplements in general and vitamins in particular continues.

Sales Still Strong

“Since the pandemic’s start, nutritional supplement sales have exploded,” observes Dominik Mattern, vice president, marketing, Kappa Bioscience (Oslo, Norway). More specifically, domestic sales of multivitamins grew by 105% in 2020, according to Nutrition Business Journal, he says, with vitamin D in particular projected to rank among the “top growth” ingredients for 2021.

Similarly, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN; Washington, DC) found in its COVID-19 survey on dietary supplements last year that multivitamin, vitamin C, and vitamin D formulations received the biggest pandemic-driven boosts among supplement ingredients considered, with intake by current supplement users rising 59%, 44%, and 37%, respectively. This put the three formulations ahead of not only zinc, calcium, and iron, but protein, as well.

All About Immunity

Tara Thompson, senior vice president, business development and sales, Morre-Tec Industries (Union, NJ), notes that Morre-Tec’s Vitacyclix division saw an increase last year in inquiries for basic letter vitamins generally, and for immune-associated vitamins like D3 and K2 in particular. In fact, Thompson points out that while Vitacyclix’s business “grew significantly” in the past 12 months overall, “vitamin D sales grew by 60% during the same period.”

The subtext: Immunity is where it’s at.

“Preventive healthcare products addressing concerns like immunity are trending higher than symptomatic products,” Mattern declares. “In this context, products with vitamins C and D come to mind and benefit from decades of research and hundreds, if not thousands, of scientific publications backing their associated health claims.”

Maheshvari agrees. “Vitamin C has been scientifically proven as vital for immunity,” he notes. “Strong published research also suggests that vitamin E is pivotal as an antioxidant in the immune response. It would appear from later research, too, that vitamin D and K levels are also important factors in how some respond to COVID, and how severely.”

Jia Zhang Lee, executive director, Davos Life Science (Singapore), notes that his company has seen a steady increase in demand for vitamin E tocotrienols in particular. “Research studies have shown that tocotrienols have positive health benefits in the management of hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes,” Lee notes. “These chronic conditions predispose individuals to the more severe form of COVID-19, and therefore there’s been growing interest in tocotrienol supplementation to help promote the prevention of these chronic diseases.”

But plenty of botanicals, antioxidants, probiotics, and other more “exotic” nutritional ingredients have immune associations, too, so why have humble vitamins gotten so much glow?

For one, those “exotic” upstarts, Mattern argues, are “less understood by the wider population.” What’s more, he continues, “Insufficient standards and adulteration create confusion and frustration for the industry and consumers. There can be a lot of heterogeneity in product quality, for botanicals especially. In comparison, vitamins are better known and understood, and their health applications are clearer.”

D Marks the Spot

These health applications are growing clearer still for vitamin D, which has been a fixture of pandemic-related discussion among both nutrition professionals and civilians.

Thompson points to results of a recent poll on Facebook finding that if consumers had to choose between supplementing with vitamin C or D, 52% would choose the latter. And with good reason: “Continuing studies are focusing on vitamin D’s benefits for immune support—especially its role in preventing the risk and severity of respiratory infections,” Thompson says.

Trygve Bergeland, PhD, vice president of science at Kappa Bioscience, points out that several meta-analyses already demonstrate vitamin D’s benefits against respiratory-tract infections, with low levels of the vitamin associated with a higher risk both for infection and symptom severity. “Similar findings have been published regarding an association between low vitamin D levels and a higher risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection,” he adds.

Knowing that consumers will continue vitamin D supplementation only as long as it fits their lives, Thompson notes that Morre-Tec developed Good Rāz, a brand of liquid-soluble vitamin D set to launch on Amazon this spring. Colorless, odorless, and tasteless, the product “especially appeals to anyone with an aversion to swallowing tablets or capsules,” Thompson says. “It doesn’t contain the sugar often found in gummies,” Thompson adds, and it slips right into coffee, tea, water—“any food or beverage desired.”

K and D: Better Together

Yet, while Thompson predicts that continued research into vitamin D’s heart, bone, and immune benefits “will certainly fuel continued growth in its consumption,” vitamin K2 may also benefit from that research.

As Mattern says, “An increasing number of studies show that some benefits attributed to vitamin D—on bone and vascular health, for example—actually require vitamin K2 for activation. Because of their common connection to calcium, vitamins D and K2 actually work in synergy.”

Namely, vitamin K2 acts on an amino acid in the calcium-regulating matrix Gla protein; absent sufficient levels of the menaquinone-7 trans isomer of the vitamin, the protein doesn’t undergo carboxylation and thus can’t direct calcium to where we want it—think bone—and instead moves it into the bloodstream for deposition into soft tissues in arteries and the lung’s elastic fibers where we don’t.

Alas, vitamin K tends to fly under the radar for all but the most informed of consumers, who even so tend to think of it in terms of its effect on blood clotting. But while that’s a valid association for vitamin K1, vitamin K2’s claim to fame are its “broader benefits to bone, cardiovascular, and immune health,” Bergeland says.

This is especially important during the pandemic. Bergeland points to two recent publications1,2 showing that low levels of vitamin K correlated with worse cases of COVID-19—and death—in hospitalized patients. “This indicates that vitamin K might be playing a protective role,” he says. “In fact,” he continues, “a review3 suggested that vitamin K deficiency is the ‘missing link’ between lung damage and thrombosis in COVID-19.”

Bergeland notes that Kappa Bioscience is establishing a research program in conjunction with hospitals in the United States, the Netherlands, and Denmark “to help the scientific community better understand the many roles that vitamin K plays in our bodies and whether supplementation with vitamin K2—the circulating form—may help COVID-19 patients.”

Meanwhile, savvy supplement shoppers are already cluing in. Sales of Vesta Nutra’s (Indianapolis, IN) proprietary NattoMK-7 vitamin K2 supplement rose about 10% year over year, says company president Sam Kwon, who attributes the vitamin’s rising profile to the difficulty of consuming it via conventional Western diets and to consumer awareness. “Educated consumers understand the need to supplement their diets with this important vitamin,” he says.

Staying Power

Moreover, he believes, they’ll continue doing so even after COVID-related concerns abate. And their newfound fondness for letter vitamins more generally may persist, too.

“We definitely believe that consumer demand for high-quality natural vitamins will continue,” Kwon says. “As standards in the supplement industry rise, and with more education about vitamins’ benefits, we see this sector growing steadily.”

Mattern is of like mind, pointing to a survey from Nutrition Business Journal and New Hope Network projecting strong supplement use “even in a scenario where vaccination is available and widely distributed,” he says. “This supports the assumption that interest in immunity and vitamins is about broader prevention.”

All of which bodes well for the category’s future. Because this won’t be the last time that a virus puts immune support—or vitamins—center-stage.

“The pandemic has created both temporary and permanent shifts in consumer behavior and thinking,” Maheshvari concludes. Even new adherents to the category, he says, “are looking at our industry long-term as part of a more permanent commitment to a healthier lifestyle. One step in that direction is the permanent inclusion of organic and plant-based vitamins to their routines.”

References

  1. Dofferhoff AS et al. “Reduced vitamin K status as a potentially modifiable risk factor of severe COVID-19.” Clinical Infectious Diseases. Published online ahead of print August 27, 2020.
  2. Linneberg A et al. “Low vitamin K status predicts mortality in a cohort of 138 hospitalized patients with COVID-19.” MedRxiv. Published online ahead of print December 23, 2020.
  3. Janssen R et al. “Vitamin K metabolism as the potential missing link between lung damage and thromboembolism in coronavirus disease 2019.” The British Journal of Nutrition. Published online ahead of print October 7, 2020.
What is it, how much do you need and 5 best supplements to take during lockdown

What is it, how much do you need and 5 best supplements to take during lockdown

  • March 23, 2021

As we face the hardest lockdown yet, along with home schooling and working from home, you may also be worried about getting the correct dose of sun exposure required for your body to produce vitamin D, vital for bone health, immunity and mood, especially during winter. 

A new study shows that vitamin D can also help patients recover from Covid. The world’s first randomised control trial on vitamin D and Covid has been published, and the the trial, which took place in Spain at the Reina Sofía University Hospital, involved 76 patients suffering from Covid-19. The use of Vitamin D reduced a patient’s risk of needing intensive care 25-fold. 

The good news is that you only need 10-15 minutes of sun exposure a day but it’s likely that you will still need to supplement to reach the daily recommended amount.

A miracle vitamin that boosts immunity, clears skin, aids sleep, curbs anxiety…and so much more, this is everything you need to know about Vitamin D.  

What is Vitamin D and how does the body absorb it? 

Nutritional therapist and functional health practitioner, Eve Kalinik explains: “Vitamin D is a vital nutrient that the body creates when we expose our skin to sunlight, and it is also found in some foods. It is a bit of a misnomer to label it a vitamin because it acts more like a hormone in the body, with a crucial role in maintaining strong and healthy bones, supporting the immune system and for cardiovascular health.” 

Henrietta Norton, Nutrition and Co-Founder of Wild Nutrition says, “when your skin is exposed to sunlight (ultraviolet B rays), it is able to synthesize Vitamin D which your liver and kidneys metabolize to make it biologically active.

What does Vitamin D actually do?

Pharmacist Shabir Daya from Victoria Health explains: “Vitamin D is thought to be more multifaceted than we first thought. Virtually every gland in the body has a Vitamin D receptor, so it is vital to all of our bodily processes.

“It has a role in boosting our immune system, it regulates insulin, helps with brain function. There’s even been a strong link shown between Vitamin D deficiency and gum disease, as well as with skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne as low Vitamin D is linked with inflammation.”

Henrietta Norton adds, “Vitamin D is fundamentally needed to help your body absorb calcium – so it’s critical for bone and teeth health. It also plays a part in immune health and it is widely discussed within the scientific community for its role in autoimmunity, gut health, respiratory health, and the response to viral infections.”

“Low levels are associated with sleep disorders, depression and low moods, and it is also very important for female health – conditions such as PCOS or endometriosis as both are associated with low levels of Vitamin D. For example, an excellent level of Vitamin D is needed when trying to conceive and during pregnancy or breast feeding,” she explains. 

Eve Kalinik praises Vitamin D’s role as a mood elevator and skin . “Because Vitamin D helps to regulate the release of serotonin, both in the gut and the brain, it has a significant effect on mood. “

How much sun exposure is required?

“Your body makes some Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight and some from a healthy diet, but the recommended amount of time is only 10-15 minutes of unprotected sunlight per day – which means that even in lockdown you won’t be at risk so long as you take a supplement,” Daya points out. 

Note: You cannot access UVB rays through glass, so sitting in a sunny window will not help you to increase your Vitamin D levels. Sunshine needs to directly hit the skin for your body to reap the benefits.

How much can you get from your diet?

“Only 10 % of our Vitamin D intake comes from food – our main provider being sunlight,” explains Henrietta Norton. Shabir Daya adds, “Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and is found in egg yolks, mushrooms, oily fish, and some fortified foods such as cereals. Milk is often fortified with Vitamin D, including some non-dairy milk, but you need to check the labels.”

Why you need a Vitamin D supplement – and the recommended daily dose

“The World Health Organisation suggests that everyone takes a Vitamin D supplement regardless of sun exposure or diet. These are available in capsules, tablets and sprays,” says Daya. 

Capsules and tablets

The stomach is extremely acidic (PH 1) so it’s estimated that 40% 50% of any vitamin you take orally is lost through the digestive system. Therefore if you prefer taking a pill, go for at least 1000 units to ensure you meet the daily 400 units of Vitamin D per day.”

Sprays are a clever hack 

He adds, “a clever way to bypass the digestive system is to use an oral spritz that you spray inside the cheek, which will be ingested directly into the bloodstream through the myriad of blood vessels inside the cheek lining, bypassing the digestive tract. I recommend Dlux 3000 spray, which contains 3000 international units in one spray. While that sounds like a lot, scientists are now pointing to 4000-5000 units per day.”

Or take a multi-vitamin with Vitamin D – as long it’s high quality 

LYMA’s luxury supplement, while costly, incorporates a powerful blend of the best balance of patented, clinically proven and peer-reviewed ingredients designed to boost immunity and ward off stress and anxiety. Typically Vitamin D3 is derived from the fat of lambswool, however the LYMA formula uses Vita Algae D3 which is a sustainable vegan source of D3 derived 100% from algae. Vita Algae D3 not only helps to maintain healthy bones by absorbing calcium and phosphorus; this essential vitamin helps skin repair itself, speed cell turnover and helps to protect against free radicals. LYMA combines Vita Algae D3 with K2Vital, a patented form of vitamin K2. This is an important combination because Vitamin D is ineffective on its own. Although it encourages calcium availability, calcium can’t be built into the bone unless K2 is present. 

What if I’m vegan?

“If you do not eat meat, oily fish, dairy or eggs (good food sources) you will not be getting any dietary access to vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is the form of Vitamin D that the body produces (plants contain D2). Therefore, vegetarians and especially vegans need to be extra careful about monitoring their Vitamin D levels,” says Henrietta Norton. See our recommended vegan Vitamin D supplement listed below. 

Why healthy fats are important for the absorption of Vitamin D

If you don’t eat fatty foods, you could have issues with absorption of Vitamin D3. As Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient, if you have a low-fat diet it will limit your access to Vitamin D3. If you don’t eggs or eat oily fish try taking a spoonful of coconut oil to help the absorption of fortified foods, such as cereals and soya milk. 

How Vitamin D improves your skin 

“Vitamin D is involved in calming inflammation which is good for anyone suffering with eczema and psoriasis as well as those with acne. When you reduce inflammation, the sebaceous glands produce less oil,” explains Daya.

Dr Marko Lens, Creator & Founder of Zelens says, “we do not get the Vitamin D we need for our body via skincare.  However Vitamin D still plays a vital role in skincare and is used to boost the immune system of the skin, reinforce its barrier function and offer protection against environmental insults. Because Vitamin D is a lipid it is well absorbed through the skin.” 

5 vitamins to boost your mood

5 vitamins to boost your mood

  • March 4, 2021

Finding things to be cheerful about is tough right now. But one way to help boost your mood is through your diet – specifically, by making sure you’re getting the right vitamins and minerals your body needs to function at its best.

In an ideal world, we’d get all the nutrients we need from the food we put on our plates, but the reality is that life is busy, and we can’t always ensure we’re eating a completely balanced diet.

So, we asked experts to share a handful of key vitamin supplements that may help to support mental health, and keep your spirits high over the next few months.

Herbal capsules in cup on wooden table background . Top view of medicine for healthy and capsules on the spoon wooden

B vitamins, like vitamin B12, are a common dietary deficiency in the UK, especially considering the rise of vegan diets. Vitamin B12 is naturally found in meat and fish, so if you’re trying to cut down on your consumption this year, you should consider taking a supplement and looking for foods that are fortified with the vitamin.

“B12 is essential for optimising our mood and mental performance, because it’s essential for the production of serotonin,” says dietician Sophie Medlin. She explains that serotonin is our ‘happy’ hormone; the neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of wellbeing in our brain.

“B12 deficiency can cause symptoms that mimic dementia, and deficiency is becoming more common as many people are moving to plant-based diets,” Medlin warns.

Elizabeth Stewart, registered associate nutritionist for Vitl says that there are other benefits to making sure you’re levels are topped up too. “As well as supporting mood, B12 maintains healthy red blood cells and DNA production, which is essential for feeling energised.”

A handful of small studies have suggested that omega-3 fatty acids can help with mood disorders. Omega-3s are a family of polyunsaturated ‘healthy’ fats that are thought to have many health benefits, including a supporting role in your overall wellbeing.

“Omega 3s from fish oils form the structure of our brain when it’s at its healthiest,” explains Medlin. “When we aren’t getting enough in our diet, it affects our mood and our mental performance, too.”

Fish and other seafood, as well as nuts and seeds, are great sources of Omega-3s, but you can also take a supplement if you’re concerned you might not be getting enough through your diet.

Magnesium supports thousands of different reactions within the body, making it a really important nutrient in our diets.

One of its major roles is maintaining normal nerve and muscle function. “Magnesium can help to calm the nervous system, reducing feelings of stress and anxiety,” explains Medlin.

Pulses, whole grains, nuts and seeds all contain magnesium, but many people are missing the mark and don’t reach the recommended daily intake. Feeling fatigued is a sign that you might not be getting enough, as well as muscle cramps and constipation.

Zinc plays an important role in supporting a healthy immune system, and it can also have a positive effect on your mental health too.

“Zinc deficiency causes a depressive-like state and anxiety behaviours, and it has been used in research to improve mood and cognitive function,” explains Medlin.

Food sources of zinc

“This is because of the role it plays in crucial neurotransmitters that control our mental function and mood.”

Ashwagandha is an ancient herb that nutritionist Libby Limon, speaking on behalf of Link Nutrition, says can promote a feeling of calm, by helping to reduce stress.

She says: “Ashwagandha can help our bodies to restore balance by providing adrenal support and balancing the stress hormone cortisol.

“It also balances hormonal levels and provides potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, that help to support the immune system.

“Plus, it fights fatigue, providing adrenal support to boost energy levels, and increase stamina and endurance.”

An Immune System Boost Can Help Your Body Fight COVID – WCCO

An Immune System Boost Can Help Your Body Fight COVID – WCCO

  • March 4, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Infectious disease experts say if you’re getting vaccinated, it can’t hurt to boost your immune system beforehand.

Having a strong immune system will also help your body fight COVID-19 more effectively if contracted.

READ MORE: ‘I Still Can’t Believe People Think This Is Fake’: 8 Months On, Minnesota Man Still Recovering From COVID Bout

Mary Giarusso, a 71-year-old resident of Big Lake, says she started a regimen of vitamins for the first time toward the start of the pandemic. She recently took a blood test to detect any nutrient deficiencies.

“[I took it] because of COVID, and I’m going to be traveling next week, so I wanted to make sure my immune system … is still in good working order,” Giarusso said.

The food we eat plays a big role in our immunity, according to licensed nutritionist Jesse Haas, owner of Wellness Minneapolis.

“In terms of boosting our immune system and helping us prevent illness, we have the power in our pantry,” Haas said.

(credit: Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Haas says Vitamin D is important for immunity. She recommends mushrooms, liver and supplements. For Vitamin C, you can look beyond citrus. Haas says bell peppers and broccoli are a good source. Zinc is tougher to find, but oysters can do the trick.

READ MORE: COVID In Minnesota: MDH Says State Has Seen 14 ‘Vaccine Breakthrough Cases’

Alex Lamkin, owner of Any Lab Test Now in Plymouth, administered Giarusso’s nutrient test.

“A lot of times you’re deficient in the areas that you have no clue about,” Lamkin said.

He says patients are most commonly lacking Vitamins D and B12.

But immunity is about more than just diet, according to Dr. Frank Rhame, an infectious disease physician at Allina Health’s Abbott Northwestern Hospital.

“Getting sleep, exercising, not being overweight is going to help people in every single way that health can be measured,” Rhame said.

MORE NEWS: Clarifying COVID: What Do We Need To Know About The J&J Vaccine?

Haas also said the vitamins found in a drug store are called “supplements” for a reason. They’re not a substitute for a balanced diet.

Vitamin Sales Skyrocket in the Pandemic, but Buyer Beware

Vitamin Sales Skyrocket in the Pandemic, but Buyer Beware

  • March 2, 2021

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

As COVID cases exceed 28 million in the United States, many pandemic-weary people are trying dietary supplements, a market valued at $48 billion in 2019, which grew to $52 billion in 2020, and is projected to reach $58 billion this year.

Demand from consumers has grown in the backdrop of the pandemic as people search for new methods to elude COVID-19. But evidence supporting these efforts is scarce.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not authorized to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed. They do not come with a prescription or warnings about side effects, yet many supplements contain active ingredients that can have strong biological effects, which can make them unsafe, even life threatening, in some situations.

Early in the pandemic, regulators started receiving complaints about illegitimate products. In response, the FDA launched Operation Quack Hack, and by June had identified 700 fraudulent and unproven medical products.

Warning letters issued by the FDA to companies selling products that claim to prevent, treat, mitigate, diagnose, or cure COVID-19 are available online. Recent letters issued include ones related to a so-called COVID-Aid tincture, a supposed corona destroyer tea, and a purported bioshield peptide.

It’s not the first time scammers have taken advantage of a crisis situation to sell their wares. The FDA issued 10 warning letters in 2013 to companies selling fraudulent products to combat influenza, and in 2014, regulators sent letters to companies selling fraudulent Ebola protection.

An FDA public service video warns the public to “be suspicious of any product claiming it’s a quick fix.” A claim of a miracle cure or secret ingredient “is likely a sham.”

Regulators have also flagged the registration of thousands of high-risk domain names that could become a source of misleading claims.

And the #immunebooster hashtag has already started to trend online.

The problem with this is the hashtag typically serves commercial interests, according to research published in BMJ Open by a Canadian team.

In nearly every post, “commercial endeavors are highlighted implicitly and explicitly,” warned Timothy Caulfield, research director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

The hashtag has become a euphemism for strength and protection from viruses like COVID-19, and on Instagram last spring, the user-generated tag that enables content sharing jumped by 46%.

This helped supplement makers market unproven therapies and products, Caulfield said.

Immune Busted

Biomedical jargon and authoritative signaling can be used to give credibility to scientifically unsound ideas, Caulfield pointed out, and crowning misleading messaging with a “health halo” is an insidious trend that shouldn’t be ignored in the midst of a public health crisis.

An immune system on overdrive can become an autoimmune disease, an anaphylactic reaction, or a cytokine storm, problems that don’t fit the health hashtag, Caulfield said.

And misinformation or pseudoscience, whether it is about boosting the immune system or anything else, has no place in discussions of public health, he added. Caulfield is part of the COVID-19 Resources Canada network of 7000 science advocates helping to stop the spread of deceptive information.

Their #ScienceUpFirst Anti-Misinformation campaign was launched at the end of January to develop and share reliable health information with the public.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a marked rise in misleading information and conspiracy theories, Caulfield pointed out. The World Health Organization has classified this as a global infodemic.

Caulfield said he worries about how misinformation has exacerbated the pandemic. And if people are buying into the idea that vitamins, herbs, or enzymes are fortifying them against the virus, they can become more complacent and decline a vaccine.

Vitamins vs Vaccines

A study of Google searches for “boost immunity,” published in Frontiers in Medicine, showed that vaccines placed 27 on a list of 37 approaches to improve health. That put vaccines behind hygiene, ginger, and citrus fruits on predominantly commercial websites promoting biased information.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 514,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States. This has led to an uptick in studies evaluating the benefit of alternative health practices, such as dietary supplements.

There is not enough evidence to support a recommendation for vitamin D supplementation — a popular, well-tried option — according to a review reported by Medscape Medical News in December 2020.

Results from a randomized controlled trial on the efficacy of two more popular options, zinc and vitamin C, for patients with mild COVID-19 were published February 12 in JAMA Network Open. The idea of testing supplements for efficacy was “a no-brainer,” said investigator Milind Y. Desai, MD, from the Cleveland Clinic. “If it works, it’s a cheap way to help people. If not, we put this hoopla to rest.”

His team explored whether adding zinc and 8000 mg of vitamin C would improve symptoms. “We chose patients on the less-sick spectrum — at the base of the pyramid — because if we could have an impact there, we could get people back to work sooner.”

But the trial ended early because the results clearly showed there was no benefit.

“As a doctor, we take an oath to do no harm,” Desai said. “But medications are meant to make us feel better or live longer.” The burden of proof for taking anything should never be “it doesn’t hurt,” he noted. “People are saying, ‘it’s not harmful, so I might as well take it’.” This is a very low, potentially dangerous bar, he said.

Walter Willett, MD, from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, agrees, but said that “many Americans are a metabolic mess.” In the United States, 70% of the population is overweight or obese, he explained, and less than 5% meet dietary guidelines. So many people were at a significant health disadvantage at the outset of the pandemic.

A list of healthy habits, including exercise, smoking cessation, drinking in moderation, sleeping well, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting vaccinated, has been published by Harvard Heath Publishing.

Most people shouldn’t be taking large amounts of expensive supplements, Willett said. Herbs and supplements should be used as an approach to get out of a vitamin-deficient state. “You can do that with a multivitamin, and it shouldn’t cost more than about $30 a year. It’s plausible that for some people, additional nutrient intake might be beneficial, but we have no direct evidence for that at this time,” he explained.

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