As COVID-19 infections continue to rise, many have turned to supplements to boost immunity. Though eating a balanced diet high in nutrients (like vitamins) can support a healthy immune system, there are many false claims that exaggerate benefits of supplementation. Here’s a summary of the evidence for common supplements associated with COVID-19:
If you are interested in taking vitamin D, aim for 400-1000 IU (international unit) daily from a USP-verified supplement. Do not take more than 4000 IU a day, unless advised by a medical professional. Taking high doses can result in elevated levels of calcium in the blood, which can cause heart and kidney problems.
If you’re interested in vitamin C, add foods such as strawberries, peppers, oranges, and broccoli to your diet.
Pregnant women should avoid using these adaptogens. Ashwagandha may cause miscarriages and there is concern astragalus could be toxic for both moms and babies.
Important things you can do to support your immune system:
Also, don't forget to follow COVID-19 prevention protocols. Taking a supplement is nowhere near as important as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.
REFERENCES (subscription necessary to view):
Don't Rely on Natural Products and "Immune Boosters" for COVID-19 Prevention. Natural Medicines Research Collaboration. Accessed December 2020.
What to Tell Patients About Vitamin D. Natural Medicines Research Collaboration. Accessed December 2020.
Why Ashwagandha & Adaptogens Are Growing in Popularity. Natural Medicines Research Collaboration. Accessed December 2020.
By Kylie Sakaida, MS, RD, LDN
Research shows plant-based diets containing vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, seeds, soy, and beans are beneficial for your heart and weight. But you don’t need to go vegan to reap the rewards. The key: eating plants most of the time, over time.
Making the switch to a plant-powered diet is a lifestyle. Start on a festive note with these comfort food swaps:
Creamy, slightly sweet, and a source of protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fats, soy milk makes an excellent dairy alternative. Instead of leaning on heavy cream in rich drinks, like eggnog, try swapping in soy milk. Use this recipe for inspiration or look for soynog at the grocery store.
You can find pre-baked tofu in most grocery stores to reduce prep time. Add baked tofu to these protein-packed, portion-controlled pot pies.
Say what? A fiber-containing fruit with a neutral flavor and meaty texture that shreds like pulled meat? Yup. With the right amount of moisture and seasoning, jackfruit can make for an excellent plant-based swap for shredded beef, pork, or chicken. Rinse, drain, shred and season one 20-ounce can for your next taco night or check out this recipe.
Medawar E, Huhn S, Villringer A, Veronica Witte A. The effects of plant-based diets on the body and the brain: a systematic review. Translational Psychiatry. 2019; 12;9(1): 226.
Sofi F, Macchi C, Abbate R, Gensini GF, Casini A. Mediterranean diet and health status: an updated meta-analysis and a proposal for a literature-based adherence score. Public Health Nutrition. 2014; 17(12): 769-82.
Turner-McGrievy G, Harris M. Key elements of plant-based diets associated with reduced risk of metabolic syndrome. Current Diabetes Reports. 2014;14(9):524.
Yokoyama Y, Levin SM, Barnard ND. Association between plant-based diets and plasma lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition Reviews. 2017; 75(9): 683-698.
By Ayten Salahi, MS, MGH Dietetic Intern