Health in a pill: Here’s how vitamins can help you build immunity and stay strong
Do you really need vitamins? Are they effective? Are they helpful to your body? How do you know if they are safe for you? These are some of the questions most of us are baffled about.
The first thing I want to say, before we go any further is that vitamins and minerals cannot outdo a bad diet. If you are looking to supplement vitamins as insurance for a poor diet, think again. They can, however, complement a good diet. Think of them as adjuncts that are above and beyond a wholesome diet.
During immune challenged times like this pandemic, make sure that you are not deficient in any vitamin as this is critical to protecting yourself.
Why do you need supplements of vitamins and minerals?
Modern agriculture and a rapidly growing food market, especially to support the processed food industry, have resulted in a rather large reduction in the nutrient quality of the soil.
Food that is grown on soil where there is no cross cultivation, pesticide-free farming and a break in cultivation can cause the soil to lose a rich supply of minerals and vitamins. So, our food is much less nutrient-dense than it was decades ago.
The second reason is that our lifestyle has become far more stressed. Decades ago, stress was remarkably lower. Stress takes a major toll on the body, depleting it of much-needed vitamins and minerals. A diet that is high in sugar, starch and processed foods also depletes these essential nutrients.
Do you need certain vitamins and minerals regularly?
Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients. This means that they are required in smaller quantities than macronutrients, but they are still vital to health. Micronutrients support every function. A diverse diet can go a long way in ensuring that you do not become deficient in vitamins and minerals.
Here are some important facts about vitamins and minerals...
- Vitamins are necessary for proper health but most of them cannot be made by your body. Minerals are elements which are used as cofactors for human enzymes and support multiple functions.
The main vitamins are vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K. Vitamins B and C are water-soluble, so when they are in excess, they get excreted via the urine. B12 gets stored in your liver. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble, and get retained with fat.
- Vitamins regulate certain body functions, help in building body tissues, bones and blood. They also help your body metabolise carbohydrates, proteins and fats, which enable your body to derive energy from the food you eat.
- Some vitamins also have antioxidant properties and help free radical damage and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is the root cause of multiple medical conditions.
- Vitamins and minerals can supplement a good diet. They can support immune health during the times of COVID-19.
What are some of the nutrients that might help immunity?
A good probiotic can support your gut. It can help heal a leaky gut, improve gut motility and support your liver in detoxification and rejuvenation. Since 70% of your immune system is in your gut, supporting your gut supports your immunity. Look for a multi-strain one. It is very important that you focus on your gut during times like now when your immune system needs support.
- A diet deficient in Vitamin A can decrease mobilisation of white blood cells and put you at risk for any infection. Vitamin A is required to produce these protective warriors of your body. Recurrent infections and breakdown of your immune system could be due to a deficiency of this vitamin, so make sure that you get it from cod liver oil or from foods.
When it comes to your Immune system, Vitamin C is the star of the show. Vitamin C protects your white blood cells from the enzymes they release to digest pathogenic microbes. Vitamin C protects you against every bacteria, virus and pathogens. When you feel that you are getting sick, forget the antibiotics and reach for Vitamin C.
- Vitamin D impacts your immune system functioning in a big way. Your monocytes, a big player in defending you against pathogens are supported when Vitamin D is at optimum levels in your body. Ample levels of Vitamin D arms the body's T cells. During this time, see that you are never deficient in this vitamin. In fact, more and more research has found a correlation between low levels of vitamin D and those who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Zinc fights disease. It protects and supports your immune system. It adds to the healing of wounds and tissue repair. Zinc deficiency can result in the slow healing of wounds, a weakened immune system and slow recovery. Zinc supports your immune system in fighting off bacteria, virus and other pathogens. Vegans and vegetarians can easily get deficient in zinc.
Vitamins and minerals need not be something that is complex. Yet it is important to note that during times where you need your immunity to be strong so that you are less susceptible to an outbreak like COVID-19,
it is critical to have a balanced diet with some supportive nutrients to make a difference.
It is important to be cautious and take care, but not panic and stress. Do the best that you can for yourself.
(Images credit: Shutterstock)
Edited by Asha Chowdary
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)