Most of the vitamins and minerals we need to function are in our food. If you have a balanced diet full of various foods, you can generally cover all your bases. However, the Standard American Diet (SAD) does little to help fortify our body with the products we need to live a happy, healthy life. This diet puts you at an even higher risk for disease and infections as your body doesn’t have the building blocks to create an effective defense.
The most effective way to treat this is with a diet change, but while you’re doing that, some supplements may help in the deficient vitamins and minerals until you can get them naturally. We recommend three different vitamins and minerals to help with this transition: Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and Zinc.
Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin used primarily to regulate bone growth and repair systems and “other roles in the body, including reduction of inflammation and modulation of such processes as cell growth neuromuscular and immune function, and glucose metabolism.”
Typically Vitamin D is naturally produced by the skin when exposed to UV light (which is refracted out via glass, so only genuinely being outside will do). With the increase in jobs allowing working from home, some populations will spend even less time outdoors.
Natural Vitamin D is scarce in most foods. Fatty fish is the best source, with other animal-based food providing a negligible amount. Artificially fortified milk and some cereals allow the general population to get a large percentage of their Vitamin D intake.
People who are lactose intolerant, on a vegetarian/vegan diet, or have gut malabsorption issues are most at risk for having a deficiency in Vitamin D.
In our current situation, this is essential information because “in a retrospective study of individuals tested for COVID-19, vitamin D levels above those traditionally considered sufficient were associated with a lower risk of COVID-19”. Even if we look at testing from a different avenue, “patients who had a vitamin D level measured in the year before COVID-19 testing, the relative risk of testing positive for COVID-19 was 1.77 times greater for patients with likely deficient vitamin D”.
Whether you look at studies before COVID or on patients who have already contracted the virus, the results still look promising. While this isn’t direct causation, the correlation is enough that making sure you have a reasonable level of Vitamin D is a small cost for a rather significant benefit.
As a side note, make sure you are getting vitamin D3 as that is the active, usable form of the vitamin.
Vitamin C, or Ascorbic Acid, is an essential water-soluble vitamin involved in collagen creation, wound healing, antioxidant activity and “contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system”.
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin, meaning that our body cannot produce it. The only way to get it is through diet or supplementation. Due to this and the poor standard American diet (SAD), it is “the fourth leading nutrient deficiency in the United States”.
Citrus fruits are the main contributors to Vitamin C intake, with red peppers, cruciferous vegetables, and potatoes being good runner-ups. Note that the Vitamin C content diminishes with storage and cooking, so either eating raw or steamed alternates will help preserve as much as possible.
Like all of the Vitamins and minerals discussed in this post, gut malabsorption issues lead to a higher likelihood of deficiency. “In addition to its biosynthetic and antioxidant functions, vitamin C plays an important role in immune function and improves the absorption of nonheme iron, the form of iron present in plant-based foods”. Theoretically, Vitamin C can help with other malabsorption issues, in this case being iron absorption.
With the rise of respiratory after-effects during or following a COVID infection, it is promising to see that “Vitamin C appears to be able to both prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections by enhancing various immune cell functions.” Ascorbic Acid can “[support] various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system” to help protect you before and during any infections, no matter the origination.
While the chances of you having severe Vitamin C deficiency leading to scurvy is extremely low, the relatively low cost of the foods and supplements associated with bolstering your immune system make it an easy choice to add to your diet and routine.
Zinc is an essential mineral “involved in numerous aspects of cellular metabolism….and plays a role in immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis, and cell division”.
Zinc is another essential mineral that our body cannot synthesize. The highest concentration is present in oysters, but red meat and poultry substitutes in the SAD. One thing to note is that “Phytates—which are present in whole-grain breads, cereals, legumes, and other foods—bind zinc and inhibit its absorption” leaving vegetarians at a higher risk for deficiency. In some cases, ” vegetarians sometimes require as much as 50% more of the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for Zinc than non-vegetarians”.
Generally, Zinc deficiency is rare due to ordinary people’s diets, but a portion of the population is at a higher risk. “35%–45% of adults aged 60 years or older had zinc intakes below the estimated average requirement”.
These percentages may be due to limited diet, restrictions, or a lack of food in general.
“The immune system is especially affected by the modification of zinc homeostasis” and with ” no specialized zinc storage system” it is necessary to make sure you’re getting an adequate amount daily. While more minor than either Vitamin discussed, Zinc remains essential to consider in your dietary and supplementation habits.
What To Do Next
Whether by drastically increasing your dietary intake or moving toward supplementation, always check with your primary healthcare provider about interactions with medications you may be taking. The whole body is connected, and tipping the scales in one direction could have unforeseen consequences in another area.
Between these three vitamins and minerals, you will be able to help support your immune system in functioning to the best of its ability. Whether it’s through a healthy, balanced, and varied diet or supplementation, it’s always a good move to make sure all the materials are there for your body to use whatever it needs.
If you choose to go through the supplementation route, our partnership with Standard Process allows us to provide you with high-quality, organically-sourced (when possible) and researched supplements. We also allow you to be able to ship them directly to your home!
If you have any questions on any of these essential vitamins and minerals, our doctors would be happy to go over the benefits with you during the first visit process.
Here at Express Chiropractic of Frisco, your first visit includes consultation, examination, adjustment (if warranted), and a ten-minute massage. With this voucher, you can even get ten dollars off our initial price. We look forward to helping you with all of your wellness needs!