Keeping Optimal Nutritional Status Against Viral Infections

Viral infections that cause acute respiratory infections are a public health concern and a major cause of mortality around the globe.

The most well-known infection is seasonal influenza, but in recent months, the COVID-19 outbreak has also been taking the world by storm.

Whether it’s the seasonal influenza or a new strain of the coronavirus, optimal protection of the immune system is imperative.

The role that nutrition has in protecting the immune system is now common knowledge, yet, many people have nutrient deficiencies.

To that end, a recent review published in the special edition of the journal Nutrients, called Nutritional Immunology discusses the importance of the nutritional status for protecting against viral infections. We’re here to give you the rundown on what it concludes.

What’s Important

The immune system of humans is a complex network of systems that work to recognize and destroy any threat to the body.

The key way of dealing with a threat is via inflammatory processes that work to eliminate the infection. After that, the inflammation also subsides.

Providing your body with the right nutrients can make you more resilient to infections, however, many people don’t have adequate nutrition, which makes them more vulnerable.

Some Details

Vitamins such as A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and folate, together with trace minerals, including zinc, iron, selenium, magnesium, and copper, are immensely important in maintaining the normal function of your immunity.

Other nutrients, like the omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are also vital in supporting the immune system and modulating the inflammatory response.

All of these nutrients function as a unity to help keep the immune system in check.

They help with the production and activity of antimicrobial proteins, recovery from inflammation, and the production of antibodies and cytokines.

Vitamin C could decrease the duration of respiratory infections and the common cold, and its deficiency could lead to an increased risk of pneumonia.

Vitamins D and E deficiencies also increase the risk of respiratory tract infections. 

Recommendations

A well-balanced and diverse diet should be able to cover all these necessary nutrients, however, for a lot of people, there are deficiencies.

Here are some nutritional recommendations to consider according to this review:

  • Supplementation with 250mg/day of omega-3 fatty acids should be a part of the daily routine because they reduce the risk and consequences of infection;
  • The intake of a multivitamin and mineral supplement that supplies the basic requirements for vitamins and minerals in addition to a healthy diet;
  • Vitamins C and D are recommended to be taken at doses above RDA levels, or at least 200 mg/day for healthy individuals.
  • Bottom Line

    The intake of the right nutrients is crucial for strengthening the immune system and increasing your chances of fighting off viral infections.

    Having a well-balanced and diverse diet and taking adequate supplementation are some of the most important things you can do to ensure you’re doing the best you can.

    If you want to try some high-quality omega-3s, we recommend you give our Antarctic Krill Oil a shot. It’s sustainably harvested and contains the optimal balance of omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.


    Resource: Calder, P.C.; Carr, A.C.; Gombart, A.F.; Eggersdorfer, M. Optimal Nutritional Status for a Well-Functioning Immune System Is an Important Factor to Protect against Viral Infections. Nutrients 2020, 12, 1181.doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12041181 

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