Staying healthy has never been more important. But when it comes to your immune system, what can you do to protect against illnesses?
“More and more research indicates that key nutrients launch the strongest defense against COVID and other infections,” says integrative physician Fred Pescatore, M.D. That’s why every doctor we spoke with is protecting themselves with a few inexpensive supplements.
Start the day with C.
Vitamin C aids immune cells called phagocytes that block colds and flu. In fact, a JAMA study found that taking 2,000 milligrams daily reduces pneumonia risk by 95 percent!
Other research reveals that vitamin C ensures 85 percent milder symptoms if you do catch an illness. Since the body can only absorb 250 milligrams at once, try timed-release capsules like Vitamin C by Nature’s Bounty (Buy on Amazon, $7.71). “I take 1,000 milligrams each morning and night for all-day protection,” says Steven Gundry, M.D. Be sure to check with your own doctor before supplementing.
Snack on zinc.
Zinc blocks virus cells from replicating, cutting cold risk by 50 percent and curbing the odds of COVID complications by 44 percent, NYU research shows. “I prefer lozenges,” Dr. Pescatore says. “Dissolving zinc in your mouth allows it to attack a virus where it enters, before it spreads.” He advises 50 milligrams of zinc daily. Looking for a rec? Try Sandhu Herbals Zinc for Immune Health Support (Buy on Amazon, $12.95).
Have D at dinner.
Up to 62 percent of women over 50 are low in vitamin D, which has been shown to help white blood cells destroy viruses, lowering the risk of COVID complications sevenfold. And folks with ample D were 44 percent less likely to test positive for COVID, a report in JAMA Network Open shows.
That’s why Frank Lipman, M.D., advises taking 2,000 to 4,000 international units of vitamin D-3 daily. Another tip: Tufts University scientists say taking it with a higher-fat meal increases absorption by 32 percent. Vitamin D3 by Nature’s Bounty (Buy on Amazon, $13.64) is a great start.
Take a magnesium bath.
Magnesium bolsters virus-fighting white blood cells, says women’s health expert Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D. But 80 percent of women over 50 are deficient. Her advice: soak in a bath with two cups of magnesium-rich Epsom salts like Solimo Epsom Salt Soak (Buy on Amazon, $8.99) twice a week. “Your skin can absorb higher doses without side effects.,” she says.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.