COVID-19 & Immunity: The Vitamin & Mineral Prescription Plan Recommended By Experts

Easy ways to add key vitamins to your daily diet.

By Toni Gasparis
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All month long, Dr. Oz is bringing you a COVID-19 Defense Plan to help you stay as healthy as possible. From tips on nutritious eating, to simple plans that’ll get you up and exercising, Dr. Oz is sharing smart ways to take control of your health.

Nov. 3, 2020 — 6 a.m. EST

As the colder weather ushers in a fear of COVID-19 cases spiking and a second wave of infections, people are wondering what they can do to build up their immunity for COVID-19 to prepare. Eating the right foods, exercising, sleeping well, social distancing, staying inside, and washing your hands are all things that you can do to decrease the likelihood of catching the virus. But there are three vitamins that are recommended to add into your daily diet to build up your defenses even further.

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A deficiency of any kind can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to catching COVID-19. Chief medical officer of Vault Health, Dr. Myles Spar, came on The Dr. Oz Show on Nov. 3, 2020 to discuss how to build up your immunity specifically using vitamin D, zinc, and vitamin C. Here’s what Dr. Spar recommends: 

Increase Vitamin D Levels 

Vitamin D helps build a strong immune system. Specifically, it can help immune cells function to fight off illness and infection. A 2011 study showed that vitamin D deficiencies could cause lung problems (which COVID-19 can attack in weakened immune systems). Vitamin D deficiencies are relatively common in the U.S., especially among Black and Latinx communities. In addition, 2020 statistics revealed 61% of the elderly population have a deficiency. 

While not much research has been done around vitamin D and COVID-19, new research published in Sept. 2020 revealed vitamin D may reduce severe symptoms and chance of death. Dr. Spar recommends 1200 IUs of vitamin D per day, which can be achieved in one tablespoon of cod liver oil. You can also purchase vitamin D (or D3) in pill form. 

Start Taking Zinc 

If taken within 24 hours of the first sign of a cold, zinc has been shown to reduce the length of the cold. The same theory applies to taking zinc for COVID-19 symptoms; if you add it to your daily diet, it may lessen your symptoms if infected. New research from Spain, published Sept. 2020, suggests COVID-19 patients in the hospital are worse off if they have low-levels of zinc in their blood

Dr. Spar recommends taking 8mg a day for women and 11mg for men. Don’t take more than the recommended dosage: excessive zinc is actually harmful to the body. A cheap and accessible way to get the recommended amount of zinc is eating smoked oysters in a can at your grocery store. You can also take the mineral in a pill form. 

Add Vitamin C Into Your Daily Routine 

“While the data on vitamin C [in relation to COVID-19] is not clear-cut, we know [it’s] essential because our body doesn’t make it,” explains Dr. Spar. A deficiency can impact your immunity and increase your chances of getting sick. A 2013 review of randomized data showed taking 200mg of vitamin C per day reduced the duration of cold symptoms. Based on this, Dr. Spar recommends having 250mg twice a day during the winter to build up your immunity. While you can take vitamin C pills, chewables, and dissolvable powders, you can get this vitamin naturally from foods like red bell peppers. Add peppers into your morning omelette, chop them into your salad, and even roast them as a side dish for dinner.  

Of course, there is no one thing that can provide immunity against COVID-19, but keeping your immune system in good shape could lessen your chances of getting severe symptoms if you do catch it. Try adding these vitamins and minerals into your diet gradually, over a period of five days, and supplement with a healthy diet, exercise, and plenty of sleep. For the latest information on COVID-19, visit Dr. Oz’s COVID-19 Center for updates. 

Related: 

How to Get Vitamin D Through Food, Since Most People Are Staying Indoors

Foods That Contain Zinc & Vitamin C to Add to Your Grocery List

Foods For Your Immune System to Start Eating Now

Article written by Toni Gasparis