Protection against corona ?: Three vitamins help the immune system

Wednesday October 28, 2020

A good supply of vitamins strengthens the immune system, this has long been known. British researchers have now taken another look at the effect specifically for respiratory diseases in order to draw conclusions about the corona virus. Three candidates are convincing – and one fails.

Keep your distance, wash your hands, wear a mask – many people would like to do more to protect themselves from a corona infection or to counteract an infection with a strengthened immune system. Vitamins, which are considered to be helpful for other infections, come into focus.

Suzana Almoosawi from Imperial College London and Luigi Palla from the Global Center for Nutrition and Health in Cambridge examined whether vitamins help against respiratory infections and complaints. They focused on vitamins A, C, E and D. These are considered to be particularly important in connection with a possible Covid 19 disease. Vitamin A is said to strengthen the mucous membranes and thus make it difficult for Sars-CoV-2 to penetrate. Vitamin C is an important supporter of white blood cells and could therefore help fight off infections. Vitamin E is said to neutralize radicals and stimulate the production of immune messenger substances. For vitamin D, previous studies had shown that it can reduce the risk of infection in colds.

For their study, the British researchers evaluated data from 6115 participants in a large nutritional study from 2008 to 2016. Everything that the observed people had consumed in terms of food, beverages or dietary supplements was recorded. In addition, it was recorded whether study participants had infections of the throat, lungs or bronchi, dyspnoea or asthma.

Cold vitamin fails

It was found that participants who were well supplied with vitamins D, E and A suffered significantly less often from respiratory problems. Those who met or exceeded the recommended daily requirement with food or supplements were considered to be well supplied with vitamins. “The intake of these vitamins was associated with a lower incidence of respiratory problems,” report Almoosawi and Palla. 33 participants who developed these diseases took in fewer vitamins with their food and no dietary supplements.

The result was held even after other factors such as age, gender, body mass index, income, and smoking were considered. The scientists could not find any connection between vitamin C intake and the risk of respiratory diseases. This confirms the results of previous studies in which it has already been shown that the supposed cold vitamin does not work against respiratory infections.

Almoosawi and Palla see themselves confirmed in the assumption that an adequate supply of vitamins A, E and D are important for the respiratory system and immune defense. “Even if the mechanisms by which our nutritional status affects the immune system are complex, it helps maintain the immune system,” they explain.

Studies have shown that vitamin E strengthens T-cell-based immune functions. Vitamin D promotes the activity of the phagocytes and dampens the release of inflammatory messenger substances. According to the Robert Koch Institute, around 15 percent of adults in Germany have a vitamin D deficiency, 40 percent are slightly undersupplied. That is why the scientists recommend a balanced diet and a good supply of vitamins. At the same time, however, they advise against uncontrolled intake of dietary supplements, as overdosing can also have harmful side effects.

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