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Will vitamin supplements boost my immune system?

Will vitamin supplements boost my immune system?

If you’re wondering whether vitamin supplements strengthen your immune system, our nutritionist Marian O'Reilly has some advice.

By now, we have all heard lots of health advice about Covid-19 including nutritional advice. Naturally, we want to give ourselves the best chance to stay healthy and strong against this virus and the key activities that can protect us are physical distancing, good coughing habits and regular handwashing.

One question we are regularly asked is can taking certain vitamins or food supplements help boost our immune system? The short answer is no. The best way to boost your immunity is to eat a healthy diet, be as active as possible and get enough sleep. 

Vitamin C and zinc

The reason for confusion about supplements is that some vitamins or minerals are commonly associated with immunity, particularly vitamin C and zinc.

There has been plenty of research on vitamin C and the common cold, which is also caused by a virus. The findings show that taking regular vitamin C supplements – at 200mg/d, which is the same as eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, doesn’t prevent you from getting a cold. However, it does appear to reduce the duration and severity of common cold symptoms by about one day. There are also similar findings with zinc.

Anecdotally, there have been stories of some pharmacies running out of vitamin pills and food supplements because people want to boost their immune system. Don’t panic if you feel that you missed out. If you do have a cupboard full of vitamins and minerals, stick to the recommended dose and make sure you’re not taking the same nutrient in more than one supplement or you could exceed the safe dose. 

The best ways to boost your immune system

You can give your immune system a health boost by focusing on what foods are on your plate, sleeping well, being as active as you can and minding your mental health. It is well-known that stress impacts our immune system and for many of us right now, avoiding stress is difficult.

So be kind to yourself, stay safe and try to remember that we are all in this together, no matter how apart we need to be.


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