A woman asked the infectious disease specialist from the CDC today who was updating on the coronavirus., “if I am a healthy person who gets regular functional medicine testing and takes supplements every day am I at risk for getting infected if I am exposed'? He responded with, “What we are learning about this virus is you would likely not be infected. People who are already healthy and taking supplements are not likely to have problems.”
The Best Defense is a Micronutrient Offense. We all know the importance of protecting ourselves from opportunistic viruses, be it a common cold, the flu, or something potentially far more nefarious. By now you have likely heard of the new type of coronavirus that has been spreading worldwide. It has captivated the attention of news watchers and disease specialists across the globe, rocked world markets, and caused a lot of panic. When we saw this news, we wanted to know more about what danger this virus presents to all of us – the global citizens of the world and felt that it was an appropriate moment to remind you, our science-minded followers, of the importance of micronutrient sufficiency in fighting back against pathogens like this one!
What You Should Know About Novel Coronavirus So Far
1. Coronaviruses are nothing new, but this one is quite severe.
Novel (or New) Coronavirus is a member of the Coronavirus family, which includes the common cold and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Coronavirus was first seen in China- many parts of which are now under strict quarantine- and has spread in our interconnected world at an alarming rate.
On January 30, 2020, as the death toll in China from novel coronavirus topped 170, the World Health Organization officially declared it an international public health emergency and began a systematic global response. Unfortunately, due to appropriate concern over whether the Chinese government has been reporting the number of cases and deaths in a timely and truthful manner, researchers are not entirely certain how easily this virus will spread now that it is outside of China.
As of Sunday, March 1, 2020: 3,001 people have died from this coronavirus, 42,728 have recovered from it, and 42,638 people are currently ill. While over 79,828 cases of coronavirus are being reported from China, countries with more than 100 known cases include South Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan France, Germany, Sinagpore and Hong Kong – large quarantines are in place in China and now South Korea. The USA currently has 73 known cases, and the number is likely to increase.
2. Novel Coronavirus is about as bad as, or less worse than, catching the flu.
According to researchers who specialize in viruses, novel coronavirus poses about the same health risk as the flu. You are likely to survive it. But something as bad as the flu can still be very, very bad! Globally, we contract about 3-5 million severe cases of the flu each year, resulting in up to 650,000 deaths! As with many illnesses, the main populations susceptible to dying from novel coronavirus are those whose immune systems are vulnerable before infection- those with chronic disease, the elderly, people taking immunosuppressants, children… the same people that must be particularly careful to avoid the flu. A Chinese study released on February 9, 2020 of 1100 hospital patients spread over 31 provinces showed a 1.36% death rate- slightly higher than that flu. That’s about 1 in 100, further reinforcing that novel coronavirus is not the extreme deadly killer, even though it may seem to be given the media attention, but it is certainly something to avoid!
3. The main concern is that this virus is likely to spread far, wide, and fast.
On the positive side, if you contract novel coronavirus, you are more likely to experience mild fever, coughing, and respiratory problems than a life-threatening illness. While suffering less is good, it may obscure how many cases there actually are. Like the flu, there is a range of responses, and some may have the virus without ever being aware of it (and be more likely to spread it to others unwittingly). Easier to survive, but easier to spread and maintain in the population.
With 103 current cases in the United States (as of March 3, 2020) and a healthy medical system with accurate and timely reporting, signs look good that the average United States citizen- or world citizen, for that matter- is going to be relatively unexposed to novel coronavirus. But time will tell. Any potential pandemic should be taken very seriously.
The last time the world experienced a viral outbreak of this nature was the SARS outbreak. This virus is likely going to be harder to corral. The key word here is “novel.” This is a new virus- we are not likely to be immune to it because we have not been exposed to it previously- so we are far more likely to catch it. With what appears to be a 3 month incubation period from exposure to peak outbreak in a given country, and we cannot predict exactly what will happen in any particular place.
Before you panic, here’s the good news: You can protect yourself from coronaviruses and other viruses through the immune-boosting power of micronutrient sufficiency!
As you likely know, our personal mission is to support your becoming micronutrient sufficient— making sure you get what you need from your food, lifestyle, and supplements to support a healthy metabolism and thrive, not, just survive! Micronutrient sufficiency boasts many sometimes unnoticed successes, like having a strong immune system that resists infection, even novel infection, which makes a huge difference in your quality of life.
We are here today to tell you that you can do a lot via simple micronutrient therapy to protect yourself from sickness and disease! Let’s laser in on critical nutrients that can help you reduce your likelihood of dealing with a nasty viral infection, be it the flu, coronavirus, or the common cold. We will focus on both offense- reducing your ability to get infected- and defense- fighting back against a virus you may have caught.
Reducing Your Susceptibility to Viruses
Remember, the common cold and novel coronavirus are in the same family. A lot of the same preventative measures are a sound foundation. You are probably taking steps every day to boost your immunity and/or reduce your likelihood of catching a nasty winter bug, such as carrying credit cards instead of cash, regular handwashing, protecting your airways in the cold and public spaces, soothing stress, getting regular exercise, getting enough quality sleep, or properly sanitizing your kitchen and home. But did you know that certain micronutrients can play a huge role in infection prevention too? Check out these examples:
- Vitamin C. The most commonly known vitamin to support immune health, vitamin C is a master immune player known to fight against infection from protozoa, bacteria, and viruses. Not only does vitamin C improve your ability to recognize an infection, which reduces your likelihood of catching an illness, it also has been shown to shorten the length of the common cold and effectively fights the early stages of infection of the flu. Importantly for those of us seeking to avoid viruses, many studies show that vitamin C thwarts viral replication, including the common cold and flu. Find vitamin C in fresh fruits and vegetables like bell peppers, papaya, or oranges- and, in the dead of winter, in fermented vegetables like sauerkraut.
- Vitamin A. Vitamin A boosts your production of T cells, a type of white blood cell that helps choreograph and manage your fight against viruses. Notably, vitamin A helps recruit white blood cells to your gut and other mucus membranes to make more T cells there, bolstering the mucus barrier in our gut, airways, and elsewhere, and improving resistance to illness! Find preformed vitamin A in animal protein such as liver, meat, chicken, butter, whole milk/cream and eggs and consider supplementing if your only source of vitamin A is from poorly-converted β-carotene, which simply will not cut it for most people.
- Vitamin D. While vitamin D deficiency has received a lot of press due to its correlation with autoimmune disease, it has long been known that deficiency is also associated with a higher risk of infection. White blood cells of your immune system have vitamin D receptors, and sufficient vitamin D can more quickly and easily get them to respond. Because we convert cholesterol to vitamin D in our skin after appropriate UV exposure, a lack of direct sunlight in winter and our indoor lives guarantee a trend toward deficiency. Science has shown that deficiency in both children and adults dramatically increases infection risk (as much as 50% in adults)! Find vitamin D in salmon, sardines, fortified dairy products, eggs, oysters and shiitake mushrooms… but recognize that the USDA reports that 93% of Americans don’t even meet the estimated average requirement for vitamin D without supplementation. Because low vitamin D also makes us more likely to be sad and overweight, you will likely want to get your vitamin D levels tested in winter to know where you stand. We’ve got your back with the easy to take, liquid vitamin D you’ve been asking for (check it out) and we include a maintenance dose of 2000 IU of vitamin D3 in our patented multivitamin nutreince!
- Vitamin E. Severe vitamin E deficiency has been shown to compromise T cell function. Vitamin E also protects against free radical damage to cell membranes and other fatty tissues all over the body including the linings of the gut, lungs, and more- avenues for potential infection. Find vitamin E primarily in plant foods such as almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, olives, and their oils, but can also be found in atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, snails and octopus; other great sources include avocado, spinach, sweet potato, papaya, dark leafy greens, and wheat germ.
- Vitamin B6. Even in critically ill patients, B6 supplementation has been shown to boost the immune response. White blood cells have trouble dividing and specializing without adequate levels of vitamin B6. White blood cells specialize and mature with the support of vitamin B6, but for those without deficiency, megadoses do not seem to show any additional benefit- so supplement smart if you do. Find vitamin B6 in all proteins, particularly in liver, chicken breast, yellowfin tuna, peanuts and other legumes, potatoes, bananas, and wheat germ.
- Folate. Vitamin B9 boosts normal immune cell function both before and during illness and deficiency reduces resistance to infections, including viruses. Folate deficiency decreases your antibody response and makes it harder to recognize pathogens. Then, by supporting T cell division in the presence of chemicals intended to get them to divide, folate also helps fight against the intruder, and folate deficiency reduces resistance to infections. Folate also supports DNA replication so you can heal damage caused by infection and illness more quickly. Find folate in foliage (leaves), and particularly in wheat germ, legumes, asparagus, romaine lettuce, beets, broccoli, and spinach as well as animal foods such as eggs and liver.
- Vitamin B12. With folate, vitamin B12 supports the replication of white blood cells and helps bolster your immune response. Vitamin B12 also supports your natural killer cells, a type of white blood cell that is particularly important for fighting against viruses- they both kill off infected cells and release chemicals that hinder viral replication. Like vitamin D, vitamin B12 is a very common deficiency, primarily due to how difficult it is to absorb. Find vitamin B12 in animal products like fish, meat, eggs, and dairy as well as in fermented foods like tempeh and from your own good gut microbes.
- Iron. Excess iron in your blood can support the replication of viruses, so those with chronic infection often find themselves mildly anemic as a protective response. But seek balance- balanced iron levels are necessary for white blood cells to divide and mature- especially at the time of infection. Find iron in excellent sources like liver, shellfish, beef, fish, poultry, kidney beans, lentils, potatoes, cashews, molasses, and tofu.
- Calcium. An important mineral in many types of metabolic processes, calcium supports the internal communication in white blood cells when they come into contact with an invader’s markings, called antigens., In other words, it helps boot up the immune response! Find calcium concentrated in canned salmon and sardines with bones, dairy products, sesame seeds, legumes, and broccoli- and make sure you are sufficient in vitamin D to improve calcium absorption and vitamin K2 to mobilize the calcium out of your artieries and into your bone!
- Magnesium. One of the most important micronutrients for supporting both your specific (fights viruses) and non-specific (fights everything) immune system, you don’t want to miss out. Magnesium is important for making immunoglobins (specialized immune proteins), helping them bind to white blood cells, helping macrophages (that kill and eat up bad stuff) respond to messages from other white blood cells, helping immune cells attach to targets including tissues, other cells, and each other, and more. A muscle mineral and chlorophyll component, magnesium is easy to find in whole plant and animal foods such as dark leafy greens, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fish, and dairy, especially bananas, brown rice, and chlorophyll-rich, dark leafy vegetables like spinach, lambsquarters, swiss chard, kale, or beet greens
- Selenium. This trace mineral is a very important part of your viral defense! Selenium helps you make selenoproteins such as glutathione peroxidase which is needed to make the powerful antioxidant glutathione. Because viruses generate a lot of reactive oxygen species that damage your tissues, selenoproteins like glutathione peroxidase are an important parts of your defense as they help maintain healthier cells. Importantly, these proteins also help slow down the mutation and replication rate of viruses– which reduces the production of new viral strains as well! Selenium deficiency has been shown to reduce the amount of these key immune-supportive proteins, which can easily be a result of eating foods grown in selenium deficient soils (like in China!), so supplementation can be important for many of us to cover our bases. Find the highest amounts of selenium in foods such as Brazil nuts and seafood (especially halibut, lobster, tuna, and salmon); you can also get selenium from liver, dairy, eggs, muscle meats, whole grains, and vegetables like garlic, celery, and cabbage.
- Zinc. Have you ever seen cold lozenges that contain trace amounts of zinc? While most of these cannot contain enough zinc to do much more than soothe your mind, the understanding that zinc helps you actively fight an infection is sound- and these companies likely know what we know- that about 1 in 4 Americans is deficient in zinc! Zinc helps regulate many immune system activities, such as helping boost production of white blood cells and enhancing both your innate and coordinated immune responses. Even mild to moderate zinc deficiency can tank many of your best immune protective soldiers: macrophages, neutrophils, lymphocytes, natural killer cells, and the complement system cells that support their activity. Zinc deficiency can also damage macrophages and produce an imbalance in T cell production that weakens immunity. In fact, zinc status is a good predictor of illness in susceptible young and old populations. Zinc may actually prevent the common cold, a coronavirus, from binding in our respiratory tract, indicating another mechanism for its efficacy in everyday viral illness. Find zinc in animal proteins such as oysters, beef and other meats, liver, dungeness crab, dark meat chicken, eggs, pork, lamb, and plant proteins like whole grains, nuts, green peas, and pumpkin seeds.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Remember your small, but mighty, health-enhancing micronutrients are not just your vitamins and minerals, but also your essential fatty acids and your amino acids! Don’t ignore the importance of anti-inflammatory fish oil from food or supplementation on keeping you on the path to health. Some studies have linked fish oil supplementation to increased B cell activity, helping you recognize an invading pathogen. Taking a high quality fish oil supplement (like Origin Omega with clean triglyceride forms of EPA and DHA that are delivered separately to eliminate competition) can boost your omega-3 intake and keep colds and other viruses at bay year round. Reducing inflammation with omega-3 fatty acids can reduce your risk of numerous problems, including the load of oxidative stress that can deplete micronutrients and compromise your immune system.
- L-Lysine (an amino acid). High lysine (and low arginine) intake is commonly used to reduce herpes breakouts because lysine plays a role in suppressing viral replication! We mention this in particular because a vegan diet can easily become deficient in lysine, and we don’t want you to miss out– consider supplementing your regular meals with a delicious Triple Threat Shake with our cleanly sourced, lysine-rich POWER Whey or Plant Proteins. Problem solved.
Join the Resistance with Smart Supplementation
Now that you see just how important your micronutrients are to a strong immune system it is easy to see why we are so passionate about micronutrient therapy to prevent or reduce the severity and length of illness? That means less sick days and less suffering- with less or no medications. But don’t forget the ABCs of Optimal Supplementation Guidelines and the science behind proper absorption, beneficial quantities and forms and micronutrient competition and synergy – these four factors can make a big difference when it comes to whether or not the supplements you take to protect your health actually work!
Choose Beneficial Forms and Quantities
Many supplements are simply not designed for optimal absorption or use in your body, and we’d like to emphasize the importance of taking your essential micronutrients in a form and dose that is most effective! For instance, many B vitamins are often delivered in the cheaper-to-produce form, not the easiest-to-use one. For example choose folate as 5-MTHF its active form (rather than folate or folic acid), to get around a key genetic mutation that affects as many as 60% of the United States population converting folate (and folic acid) to 5-MTHF. Folate works with vitamin B12, which is easier to use effectively in the body as its natural bioactive form – methylcobalamin, not the popular cyanocobalamin form we see in every health food store. While many products contain vitamin B6 as pyridoxine HCl, the superior form of vitamin B6 to supplement is pyridoxal-5-phosphate (PLP), the active form that we put in nutreince. Also most multivitamins don’t provide beneficial quantities of calcium, magnesium, or vitamins D3 and K2 – this is the last thing you want. Supplementing with an modern multivitamin like nutreince ensures you get the quantities your body needs in the most bioavailable form possible.
Eliminate the Competition and Seek Synergy Instead
One of the problems with so many supplements today is the lack of consideration for a formulation issue that is at the heart of why so many medical and health professionals continue to believe that multivitamin and multi-nutrient supplements don’t work. It is called micronutrient competition. This is when one micronutrient blocks the absorption or use of another. For instance, vitamin D and vitamin K can reduce the absorption of and negate the beneficial effects of each other when taken at the same time. An properly formulated multivitamin should not contain both vitamins D and K (including K2) in the same dose- that’s why we separate them into AM and PM doses in nutreince. Many supplements simply increase the amounts of both to somewhat address this competition, but that only makes the competition worse, and you definitely want both of these synergistic vitamins as they work together to ensure you have clear arteries and healthy bones.
Micronutrient competition also occurs with calcium and magnesium, vitamin B5 and B7, zinc and vitamin B9 (folate), EPA and DHA (in your fish, krill or algae oils) and between many other micronutrients. We separate these and many others into AM and PM doses so you get the most out of all your micronutrients to protect and optimize your wellness.
Micronutrient synergy is the opposite of micronutrient competition. Here two or more micronutrients can enhance the beneficial effects of each other. However (and this is key): micronutrient synergies can offer enhanced absorption and utilization only if all of the micronutrient competitions that could affect their absorption have been eliminated. They cannot reverse or eliminate the effects of micronutrient competitions on their own. In other words, micronutrient synergies CANNOT occur until micronutrient competitions have been eliminated. For instance, vitamins B2, B6, B9 and B12 work together to lower homocysteine levels. However if micronutrient competition are occurring between zinc and vitamin B9 because they are included in the same formula, this synergistic benefit may not occur.
Use the Science
While your best defense against illness, such as novel coronavirus, should definitely include a healthy diet, lifestyle, and smart supplementation, we also know that the benefits of micronutrient sufficiency go far beyond that of supporting your immune health. During these difficult and stressful times make sure to stay sufficient (like we will with nutreince, Origin Omega and IN.POWER). But, make sure to read our books or our blog to explore why we are so passionate about helping you on your path to extraordinary health by giving your body the essential micronutrients it needs… we know you'll see the benefits in so many areas of your life!