CoVid and vaccines… but… what about NUTRITION?

Ever since the pandemic started holistic practitioners are emphasizing natural immune support. Many people still don’t realize the importance of that up to this day. They were emphasizing that sound nutrition and adequate micronutrient levels are important. And that they were important in two distinct ways. They can help us to avoid getting seriously sick from CoVid and they also help us to recover faster once we are infected. I was advertising for that as well. I still feel that we have good arguments for avoiding of getting seriously ill, provided that we make our health a priority. Unfortunately, our education and urgency to inform people never made it to the mainstream media.

What the media has told us, is one horrible news piece after another. How many more people have contracted the virus, daily updates, how many are in hospital, in the ICU. We heard that the health care system is on the verge of breaking down. Lockdowns are happening to limit the spread, the anxious wait for a vaccine.

What the media says:

The message of the media is very clear… a vaccine will be our only option to get some form of a normal life back… eventually. Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand all of this and I know that many people are very anxious.

Sadly there is a big piece of information missing from the news. It is the fact of what we already know about nutritional support in this context. A vaccine approach could be complemented by nutritional knowledge to improve patient outcome.

I have been waiting for studies to come out, before writing this blog post, looking specifically at CoVid and nutrition. Up until this point we only had data about influenza viruses and nutrition.

I was waiting for evidence, for nutrition and supplementation support in the fight against CoVid. Now, finally, there is some data and I am very happy to share that with you today. Let’s start going backwards in time.

Our newest and long awaited hope has finally arrived. A vaccine against CoVid. But if this vaccine succeeds in protecting us against severe outcomes of this disease, the vaccine efficacy plays a crucial role.

But it’s not enough to just vaccinate everybody and get protection…

whether a vaccine gives you maximum protection (or not) depends on your nutritional status.

The UK telegraph says:

“It’s not just undernutrition, which affects vaccine efficacy. In the past decade, increasingly sedentary lifestyles and ultra-processed foods with high sugar and fats have helped drive an obesity epidemic that is causing a dramatic increase in hypertension, diabetes type-2 and multiple cancers(…)
In the pandemic, people with obesity and underlying conditions have been more prone to a serious case of Covid-19 and are at increased risk of dying. Further challenges relate to the concern that when a vaccine for Covid-19 is developed, those with obesity may find it to be less effective. Studies have shown that those people whose immune system is adversely affected by obesity may ultimately lack vaccine-induced immunity.

What it means:

Sedentary lifestyles, ultra-processed foods high in sugar and fats, in short, our diet, can make us less receptive to vaccine-induced immunity to CoVid. With that we have a greater chance of dying from underlying conditions when infected by the virus.

Please tell me, why do we always take nutrition out of the discussion?

Nutrition has everything to do with what we are experiencing at the moment.

It has to do with our health, with how we react to CoVid, how immune we might get from a vaccine. Why is that not worth mentioning?

How many times did we read or hear anything in the media news channels about the role of nutrition? You guessed it…close to 0 times.

Quite frankly it is beyond me!

My colleagues and I are offering an immune support program, to help people support their immune health and feel better. We already have substantial evidence on which nutrients work well.

A recent German study showed the latest findings specific to CoVid (“CoVid-19 and Immunonutrition” (Uwe Groeber)) It mentioned that especially the older population and the ones living in long-term care homes, are nutrient deficient… “up to 83% of this age group”.

And just to emphasize this:

The nutrient level in the body determines the state of our immune system!

This means that a vast majority of the older population is deficient in nutrients, combined with natural declining immune status. With that we just created the perfect host for an opportunistic virus and its consequences.

What can we do in ANY age group to support better immune status?

The immune system supporting micronutrients that are most relevant to mention and that are part of my Immune Support Program are:

Vitamin D, A (retinol), C + Quercetin, Selenium, Zinc and Omega 3.

These micronutrients in adequate amounts combined with an adequate protein intake is the key to a strong immune system that is able to deal with virus attacks.

Especially protein status in older people often declines, leaving the immune system deprived of this important building block.
Older adults need as much protein as an athlete for adequate immune system function.

Let’s look at each micronutrient in detail and why it is important.

Spotlight on micronutrient – Vitamin D

Last summer we saw the virus rate decrease… due, in part, to the fact that there is more sunlight in the summer and sunlight turns out to be one of the things that the virus isn’t particularly fond of. Vitamin D is a vital part of sunlight exposure. Coincidence?

Looking at the nutritional status of Vitamin D, the study said that in Europe 84% of the population is Vitamin D deficient and it is about the same for North America. And, as we get older the ability to absorb Vitamin D from sunlight decreases by approx. 80%, which leaves us with no choice but to supplement with Vitamin D. I recommend this for every person I work with. Combined with K2.

Well established is the fact, that a deficiency in Vitamin D increases morbidity in all immune system relevant diseases. So, in association with the studies of Vitamin D and CoVid 19, we now have evidence (like we knew) that Vitamin D enhances the immune system, helps the body produce innate antimicrobial and antiviral substances, down regulates the ACE-2 receptor (where the virus gets in the body), increases anti-inflammatory interleukin and white blood cells and strengthens the immune system in the gut.

Data has shown that the higher the Vitamin D status in an individual, the lesser the infection rate with CoVid-19

50 ng/ml is the recommended level of Vitamin D

A randomized placebo-controlled study (SHADE study) has shown that administering Vitamin D for 1 week to asymptomatic CoVid-19 infected people resulted in 50% clearing the virus within that week.

Spotlight on micronutrient – Vitamin A

Synergistically with Vitamin D works Vitamin A (retinol) on the cellular level. Remember cod liver oil? When I was a kid my parents would give me that to strengthen my immune system. It is a classical supplement that combines both Vitamin D and A.

There are studies that have shown that vaccines respond better when complemented with Vitamin D and A (retinol) in combination.

European studies have also shown that up to 75% of the population in the industrial world do not get adequate vitamin A levels through nutrition. 45% of all Europeans have a gene mutation (polymorphism) that affects adequate Vitamin A absorption.

Vitamin A is the most important vitamin for the integrity of the mucosal linings in the respiratory tract, the urinary tract and the digestive tract. It is an immune modulator, aids in the production of immune cells, immune tolerance and the migration of T-cells in the GALT (gut associated lymphatic tissue). All this is necessary to protect our body from the invasion of the virus.

Spotlight on micronutrient – Vitamin C

We already know a lot about Vitamin C and its immune system supporting properties. Vitamin C therapy is used as a treatment option of CoVid-19 patients in China. It proves to be effective for reducing inflammation, supporting respiratory function and decreasing the need for ventilation.

Lucky for us we can cover our Vitamin C needs with a healthy diet of vegetables and fruit which will help preventatively by supporting immune function.

Spotlight on micronutrient – Selenium

In 2017 the ETH in Zurich sent out a warning about the poor selenium status in our food supply, due to overused and undernourished soils, changing ph levels and decreasing the mineral content in soils.

It is estimated that more than 1 million people worldwide are deficient in selenium.

Adequate selenium levels (130-150 mcg/l) are vital for the thyroid but also for the immune system. There is a direct correlation between people who have a thyroid condition called Hashimoto’s and selenium deficiency.

The severity of a CoVid-19 cases directly correlates with an insufficient selenium status according to a new study coming out of Berlin, Germany.

I recommend to check your selenium levels  to determine how much supplementation you need to reach an adequate level.

For people with thyroid conditions I recommend to take at least 200 mcg of selenium in supplemental form as well as eating 2-3 Brazil nuts each day.

Spotlight on micronutrient – Zinc

Another important mineral to close this summary off is zinc. Zinc is important for enzymatic activity in the body. Zinc is involved in about 3,000 different enzymatic activities!

The thymus gland in our body is producing new immune system cells with the help of zinc. As we age, the thymus gland shrinks and that also means we need more zinc as we age to keep up good immune status.

Zinc also has antiviral properties in itself. It can block the receptor cells, preventing the virus to get into the cells. Supplemental zinc  in all age groups help  prevent viral infections. Preventative supplementation dosage for adolescents, adults and seniors is 0.25-0.5 mg per kg body weight/day.

If you are a lover of oysters, kidneys and liver, eat those. Most people don’t like those foods anymore these days and should therefore supplement with zinc accordingly. Conventionally grown food however, can inhibit the absorption of zinc. Common pesticides on food combine with zinc molecules and prevent adequate absorption of this mineral. Stick to organic foods as much as possible.

Nutrition and supplements are a cheaper way to deal with a pandemic and the evidence is clear that these nutrients would be helpful in prevention and treatment of infected people.

Conclusion

1) Your body weight plays a role in vaccine efficacy.
2) Your body weight is directly related to your nutritional status
3) Your nutritional status determines how well your immune system works, thus predicting how severe a virus infection could turn out
4) Antioxidants like Vitamin D, Vitamin A (retinol), Vitamin C, Selenium and zinc are needed in adequate amounts in protecting and supporting our immune system and often needs to be externally supplemented

In my opinion, nutrition can no longer be kept out of the equation when talking about viral infections (but really any disease). I do hope that it will be discussed more openly in the future as it is a safe and cheap way to stay protected and enhance quality of life.

If you are interested in finding out more about my immune support program and how you can get started today, please send me an e-mail at pamela@butterflyholisticnutrition.ca

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