Can boosting your immune system help you be better prepared to handle COVID-19?

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Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Can boosting your immune system help you be better prepared to handle COVID-19?
Can boosting your immune system help you be better prepared to handle COVID-19?

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Most health care experts agree that people in good health are best prepared to handle COVID-19. Maybe that's why vitamin and supplement companies are reporting record sales during the pandemic.

But beware.

You've probably seen claims, especially in social media posts and ads, about how vitamins and supplements can ward off COVID-19 and other maladies.

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Shelly Wegman, a dietician at Rex UNC Healthcare, says if some of those claims seem outrageous, there's a reason.

"Vitamin and mineral supplements are not well regulated in the U.S. We think we regulate everything but they're in a grey space between FDA and USDA. So I'm very cautious about that," she said.

ABC News has reported that sales of vitamins and supplements are way up during the pandemic.

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Wegman wasn't surprised.

"Everybody wants to stay as healthy as they can during this and we all know that it's your immune system that's at risk which puts you at higher risk of catching something like COVID-19," she said.

But she's wary of the talk of mega doses of any vitamins and supplements, even though scientist are studying whether they can provide therapeutic relief from the coronavirus.

"They are actually looking at high doses of vitamin C and zinc because they help that immune response. They help enhance that immune response and they're used up quickly when you're stressed," she said adding, "but it's a study that's in progress and I don't have enough data and I'm not telling people to do something without the data to back it up."

However, Wegman does believe that a healthy diet can boost your immune system and for some that may include a low dose of supplemental vitamins.

"A multivitamin is perfectly acceptable and it can help to a certain degree especially during this time with the increased stress and the pandemic. I do recommend caution with mega doses. Do the research. Talk with a professional. See what you need to do. And the big thing is that balance of proper diet, exercise, good sleep, and stress relief," she said.

Wegman noted that if you talk to a health care professional, you might want to check your vitamin D3. That's the vitamin we get when the sun shines on our skin and because of skin cancer precautions, sometimes we don't get enough.

"I do recommend their vitamin D level checked because that's an important one in several different aspects of health," said Wegman.

And boosting your immune system is one of the few things you can do to prepare for the coronavirus.