The best vitamins during virus season

As we continue to face the challenges of COVID-19, we are also learning more about the virus itself, and new ways to defend ourselves from its detrimental and sometimes lingering side effects. New research suggests that supplements can play a role in protecting ourselves from poor COVID-19 outcomes—specifically vitamins K, D and C as well as zinc.

While humans can obtain some of these micronutrients from food and the sun, these methods are not always sufficient to supply the full amount that the body needs. Recent studies suggest that supplementing our bodies with these essential vitamins and minerals could help in the battle against COVID-19.

Vitamin K. Vitamin K is recognized for its function in cardiovascular health, but researchers have found it may also be beneficial for treating COVID-19. A recent study conducted by a team from Bispebjerg Hospital in Denmark has revealed that those hospitalized with COVID-19 have low vitamin K levels, and that vitamin K deficiency is one factor that may predict a higher mortality rate in patients.

Additionally, a major concern with COVID-19 patients is respiratory failure, but another noted outcome is thrombosis, or the formation of blood clots. A study by researchers at the Canisius Wilhelmina Hospital in the Netherlands showed that optimum levels of vitamin K play a key role in the deterrence of blood clots and lung health. These studies suggest that increasing vitamin K intake could potentially help patients fare better when fighting COVID-19.

Vitamin D. Known primarily for its ability to help strengthen bones, vitamin D could also play a key role in strengthening the body’s defenses against COVID-19. An open letter signed by more than 100 science, health and medical experts claims that vitamin D intake may decrease COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and mortalities. These experts explain that having a deficiency in vitamin D may be associated with a decreased immune response. Therefore, boosting vitamin D levels, especially in at-risk groups, may reduce COVID-19-related deaths.

Vitamin C. Already widely recognized for its immune system-boosting abilities and commonly used during flu and cold season, it is no surprise that vitamin C could play a part in COVID-19 therapy. In recent studies published by Nutrients, a scientific journal, researchers claim that vitamin C may help reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms, as well as potentially help with supporting resistance to pneumonia, which is a common outcome of COVID-19. Many hospitalized patients are low in vitamin C, so increasing the intake of this antioxidant could be beneficial.

Zinc. Zinc is a micronutrient also known for its role in immune health. Recent studies published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases have shown that zinc deficiency can increase severity of COVID-19 cases and extended hospitalizations. In another study published by the Journal of Medical Microbiology, using zinc as an add-on therapy was found to reduce mortality and improve outcomes for mild and moderate COVID-19 cases. However, a doctor should be consulted about proper dosage, as too much zinc can have adverse effects.

Further studies are being conducted regularly, but this promising research indicates supplementing with vitamins K, D and C as well as zinc may help improve overall immune function and protect against more severe COVID-19 outcomes. As always, consultation with a doctor prior to making important health decisions and introducing new supplements is highly recommended.

Danny Curtin is the executive vice president of Arthur Andrew Medical. Prior to joining Arthur Andrew Medical, Danny was a personal trainer and expert in nutrition, supplementation, sleep, and meditation. Danny currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.