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Nutraceuticals for Immune System Support

by Susan Walker May 11, 2020

The immune system is the body's main defense mechanism against a wide variety of agents known as pathogens. These pathogens can be bacteria, fungi and viruses. This system protects us from diseases and consists of many structures and processes. To work properly, it must detect pathogens and distinguish them from our own tissues.

    With respect to COVID-19, there is no known cure for this virus and information about it is emerging quickly. At this time the best ways to reduce the spread of the virus is to adhere to the recommendations from the official sources of hand-washing, physical distancing and wearing a mask when out in public.

    However, there are other approaches that can be used to improve overall immune function to reduce the progression from colonization of the virus in the body to actual illness.

    The purpose of this post is to discuss a few nutraceutical agents that can modulate the immune response. 

    SARS-CoV-2 can be fatal because it stimulates part of the immune response called the inflammasome. This is can cause the release of inflammatory cytokines. Cytokines are proteins produced by cells and play an important role in the immune system. This inflammation can lead to a cytokine storm and severe damage to the epithelium of the respiratory tract. This virus activates a specific inflammasome called the NLRP3 inflammasome. This is important because there are specific natural compounds that may regulate this inflammasome. 

    The following compounds can be useful in helpful the immune system defend against the virus.

    Nutraceuticals

    Quercetin

    • Antiviral against RNA and DNA viruses
    • Antioxidant and antiinflammatory
    • Inhibit the replication of the virus
    • Dosage: 1 gm twice/day

    Green Tea 

    • Modulates NLRP3 inflammasone
    • 4 cups a day is a good amount to drink
    • Dosage: 225 mg/day

    Curcumin

    • Bioactive compound in turmeric
    • Modules the NLRP3 inflammasone
    • Dosage: 500-1000 mg twice/day

    Resveratrol

    • a polyphenolic compound naturally found in peanuts, grapes, red wine, and some berries
    • Modules the NLRP3 inflammasome
    • Shown to have in vitro activity against MERS-CoV
    • Dosage: 100-150 mg/day

    Melatonin

    • Usually used for promotion proper sleep cycles, melatonin has been show to have an inhibitory effect on the NLRP3 inflammasome
    • Dosage: 5-20 mg/day

    Vitamin A

    • Plays are role in enhancing immune function 
    • Dosage: 10,000 IU/day

    Vitamin C

    • Supports cellular processes of the immune system
    • Can treat respiratory infections
    • Dosage: 1-3 g/day

    Zinc

    • Contributes to immune defense by supporting various functions of the immune system
    • May suppress viral attachment and replication
    • Evidence indicates it prevents viral infections and reduces the severity
    • Dosage: 30-60 mg daily in divided doses

    Asthaxanthin

    • Microalgae-derived asthaxanthin has antioxidant and antiinflammatory effects
    • Preprint suggests it may be protective against the cytokine storm

    Vitamin D

    • Steroid hormone
    • Regulates the immune system
    • Reduces the expression of inflammatory cytokines that products inflammation that injures the lining of the lungs
    • Reduces the expression of cytokines
    • Reduces the severity and duration of acute illness
    • Can lower viral replication rates
    • May prevent upper respiratory tract infections
    • Dosage: 10,000 IU/day of vitamin D3 for a few weeks; then reduce to 5000 IU/day

    *There is emerging information that vitamin D supplementation could reduce the risk of influenza and COVID-19 infections and deaths.

    *Vitamin D insufficiency is more prevalent among African Americans than other Americans. In North America, most young, healthy blacks don't achieve optimal levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D at any time of the year. 

    * There is early evidence that low vitamin D levels are prevalent in severe COVID-19 infection. 

     All of these nutraceuticals show promise in supporting the immune system to fight the viral infection and combat the cytokine storm that can ensure, causing the fatality associated with COVID-19.


     **The information provided is only intended to shed light on nutraceuticals that may support your immune system. It is not meant to diagnoses, treat or suggest treatments for COVID-19 specifically. None of them should be used without consultation with your doctor or medical practitioner. Please follow all guidelines outlined by the government agencies in your country and region. 

    Document Downloads + Links

    COVID-19 Nutraceuticals
    Astaxanthin and COVID-19
    Vitamin D Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths
    Vitamin D and African Americans
    Vitamin D Insufficiency is Prevalent in Severe COVID-19

    Susan Walker
    Susan Walker


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