This post may include affiliate links. See our affiliate policy for more details.
Last modified on August 25th, 2020
The SARS-CoV-2 virus, also known as COVID-19 or coronavirus, has caused a worldwide pandemic.
Many people are interested to learn if there are supplements that may improve their respiratory health to help fend off or fight the virus.
It is important to note that scientists are still in the early stages of researching the COVID-19 virus. While other coronaviruses exist, COVID-19 is a new viral subtype that the world has never seen before.
For this reason, scientists are still learning about what treatments may be effective or harmful when trying to fight the virus.
Therapies that may work for some viral infections may not necessarily work against COVID-19. However, several studies have been conducted on certain vitamins and supplements in coronavirus and related viruses.
For this reason, some doctors and scientists see a role for Vitamin D, Vitamin C and Zinc in promoting respiratory health and protecting from coronavirus.
Vitamin D plays a wide variety of roles throughout the body.
Researchers began looking at a possible role for Vitamin D in protecting against COVID-19 because Vitamin D may help reduce the risk of influenza. Scientists were already aware that in the northern hemisphere, the COVID-19 outbreak began in winter, a time when Vitamin D levels tend to be low.
Further, at this time the number of COVID-19 cases in the southern hemisphere, where it was summer when the pandemic began, has been significantly less than in the northern hemisphere.
In addition, Vitamin D is thought to contribute to the development of respiratory diseases like acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS.
Although Vitamin D deficiency itself has not been linked to a higher risk of death from COVID-19 at this time, medical issues like advanced age and chronic diseases are linked with both low Vitamin D levels and higher mortality rates from COVID-19.
Further, Vitamin D may play a role in stopping the inflammatory cascade known as a cytokine storm that has been linked with COVID-19 deaths in younger adults.
Vitamin D is a common lab checked by primary care doctors.
Studies have shown that a Vitamin D level of between 20 and 30 ng/mL in the blood is sufficient to reduce the risk of respiratory infections.
Although some studies have supported aiming for higher blood levels of Vitamin D, this is somewhat controversial. Vitamin D blood levels higher than 50 ng/mL are linked with health problems like high blood calcium levels.
In turn, high blood calcium levels can make calcium build up inside the blood vessels and cause problems in the heart and kidneys.
To know the amount of Vitamin D that is right for you to take, you should ask your doctor about your most recent Vitamin D lab levels.
Depending on your lab levels, your doctor will be able to recommend a Vitamin D dose that is appropriate for you.
Alternatively, you may be able to keep your Vitamin D levels in a healthy range by eating foods rich in Vitamin D and spending time outdoors, especially in the summer months. Foods rich in Vitamin D include:
-Mushrooms (brown, Italian, crimini, portabella or white)
-Fish like halibut, sockeye salmon, pink salmon, rainbow trout and tuna
-Vitamin-D fortified milk or soy milk
-Vitamin-D fortified orange juice
-Vitamin-D fortified cereals
One of the best options for Vitamin D supplementation on Amazon.com is:
Carlson Vitamin D drops are sold in liquid form, with each drop giving 1000 IU of Vitamin D. Liquid Vitamin D permits you to have control over the dose that you are taking.
If your doctor recommends a standard Vitamin D supplement of 1000 IU daily, you can simply take one drop.
Conversely, if your doctor recommends a higher dose, it is easy to scale upwards. Further, liquid drops are a useful option for people who have trouble swallowing tablets or capsules.
The drops can be mixed with liquid, put on food, or administered directly into the mouth. Because they have no genetically modified organisms, the drops carry a non-GMO label.
Further, they are vegetarian friendly and have no flavoring.
In addition, the drops are free from dairy, gluten, preservatives and soy.
Other than Vitamin D, the drops contain medium chain triglyceride oil derived from coconut and palm.
The drops undergo potency testing from an FDA-registered lab.
Vitamin C has long been a popular supplement for fighting infections, from respiratory diseases to urinary tract infections. As an antioxidant, Vitamin C helps to get rid of reactive oxygen species that damage cells.
During an infection, Vitamin C levels can be reduced, with more severe infections reducing levels to a greater extent than mild infections.
Some studies specifically support Vitamin C use for respiratory diseases, with data linking Vitamin C to improved flu symptoms and shorter illness duration. Vitamin C has also reduced symptoms and duration of the common cold in humans.
Further, Vitamin C was studied on a coronavirus strain in chickens. Vitamin C was found to be protective against that strain of coronavirus in chickens, and helped chickens resist infections.
Unlike some other vitamins, high dose Vitamin C is not linked to significant side effects.
As a water-soluble vitamin, Vitamin C in excess of the body’s needs is excreted in urine and is not stored in the body.
Foods high in Vitamin C include:
-Peppers, including green and red peppers
-Oranges and orange juice
-Grapefruits and grapefruit juice
One of the best options for Vitamin C on Amazon.com is:
Nature’s Bounty Vitamin C comes in a capsule formulation.
The capsules contain small beads which hold the Vitamin C. As such, the capsules can be opened and sprinkled on food if desired. The capsules are 500 mg each, and the instructions recommend taking one capsule once a day with a meal.
The capsules contain no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or preservatives. They are free of milk, lactose, soy, gluten, wheat, yeast, fish and sodium.
Besides Vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid, the capsules contain glaze, gelatin, magnesium silicate and corn starch.
Notably, the capsules are not vegetarian-friendly or vegan-friendly as they contain gelatin.
Zinc is important throughout the body, and zinc deficiency is known to depress the immune system.
Zinc has been most studied for the common cold, where studies have shown that it can decrease both symptoms and duration of the illness.
Scientists have begun to study zinc in COVID-19, with research showing that zinc can help fight the virus by inhibiting SARS‑CoV RNA polymerase.
People at the highest risk of death from COVID-19 are also more likely to have a zinc deficiency. This includes those who are older, immunocompromised, obese, diabetic, or have hardened arteries.
Foods that are high in zinc include:
-Beans and legumes, including baked beans, chickpeas, kidney beans and peas
-Nuts like almonds and cashews
One of the best options for zinc supplementation on Amazon.com is:
Pure Encapsulations Zinc 30 contains 30mg of zinc picolinate, yielding approximately 6mg of elemental zinc.
The manufacturer recommends taking one capsule daily with a meal. Because it contains no animal products, the capsules are both vegetarian and vegan-friendly.
It contains no wheat, gluten, eggs, peanuts, magnesium stearate, hydrogenated fat, or artificial sweeteners or colors. Other ingredients include a vegetarian cellulose capsule and ascorbyl palmitate.
The capsule can be opened and sprinkled on food if desired.
Respiratory diseases have a wide range of severity. While the common cold may only be bothersome, COVID-19 is a public health emergency.
Doctors and scientists are currently researching the best ways to both treat and prevent respiratory disorders, COVID-19.
Although researchers are still hard at work trying to find the best ways for people to prevent the disease, Vitamin D, Vitamin C and Zinc all have data that may support their use in protecting from respiratory diseases including COVID-19.