Nutrients that help in building immunity during Covid Pandemic
Nutrition plays an important role in keeping our body healthy and our metabolic processes running smoothly.
Each nutrient has a role to play in keeping our immunity strong. However during the covid pandemic, few specific vitamins and minerals have gained a lot of attention not only for their infection resisting properties but also for their role in speedy recovery from any infection.
This article discusses these very specific nutrients, their mode of action and the sources of food from where we can get these nutrients.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)
Mode of action:
- Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps to boost the body’s natural defence system.
- It encourages the production of white blood cells that are required to fight the invading microbes.
- It also protects these immunity cells from free radicals and aids in faster recovery.
- Vitamin C aids in absorption of iron, an important component of haemoglobin, thereby helping in smooth functioning of the immune system
- Fruits - lemon, oranges, sweet lime, gooseberry or amla, guava, kiwi, papaya, mango
- Vegetables - broccoli, capsicum, sweet potatoes and green leafy vegetables like moringa
- Other sources - sprouted moong
Vitamin D (sunshine vitamin)
Mode of action:
- Vitamin D is known to regulate the production of immune cells called T-cells and macrophages which are known to fight the pathogens that invade our body
- Research has shown that decreased Vitamin D levels have led to increase in respiratory tract infection and also decrease in lung function making a person more susceptible to infections
- Sunlight - 15-20 min, preferably early morning sunlight on exposed skin
- Dietary sources - mushrooms, egg yolk, cod liver oil, fatty fish, beef liver, fortified foods like milk
Minerals - Zinc, Selenium, Iron
- Zinc is considered as an immune modulator/adaptor. That means it can boost the function of immune cells when attacked by pathogens. It also can control the immune cells from attacking the body’s own cells.
- Dietary selenium has been known to support the function of T-lymphocytes which are a part of the white blood cells. This way it has been found to play a vital role in helping the body fight viral and bacterial infections.
- Iron is an important part of the haemoglobin. iron is a fundamental element for normal development of the immune system. Its deficiency affects the capacity to have an adequate immune response.
The role of iron for immunity is necessary for immune cell proliferation, particularly lymphocytes, associated with the generation of a specific response to infection.
Apart from the above immune boosting nutrients, the body also requires adequate amounts of good quality proteins, complex carbohydrates and good fats to ensure that all other processes in the body are functioning smoothly allowing the immune system to do its work.
Ensuring the intake of the above mentioned foods along with proper exercise, adequate sleep and management of stress can help our body to build a good shield against any viral or bacterial attack.
Apart from that, social distancing, wearing masks and following proper hygiene practices can ensure that we remain safe during this covid pandemic.