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Support your immune system during the pandemic

Pandemic ...Some people are terrified ...Some are ignoring it ...Some are sick ...Some lives have been lost So what can you do? Should you be afraid? Firstly, fear & panic won’t serve any one of us. There’s a whole lot in this email (including stuff you might not agree with), but can you read the whole thing for you or at least for the people you love?

Stop Spreading Illness Basics

  • Wash Your Hands. Do NOT eye roll on this. It is legit so important. You scrub those hands to the song of “Happy Birthday to You” and get the nail beds, between your fingers, top & bottom of your hands and you’ll be well above the curve.

  • If you’re sick, stay home.

  • If you know someone is sick, encourage them to stay home.

  • If you’re sick, don’t hang out with anyone, but especially elderly, pregnant people, children, or immunocompromised.

  • If your kids are sick, keep them home.

Coronavirus Basics

  • It’s called “Novel” because we’ve never seen anything like it before. Scientists & doctors are working hard to figure this out and get us more info. Keep reading because I’ll be sharing some virus basics.

  • The outbreak that started in China is now an epidemic and may become a pandemic.

  • Outbreak = more than expected

  • Epidemic = rapidly spreading to many people

  • Pandemic = across continents, an epidemic at global proportions

  • We don’t know how many people have it because there are issues in diagnosis, testing, and the numbers are rapidly changing.

  • You don’t always need a kit to confirm, clinical diagnosis is valuable with those who have been exposed.

  • Because the virus is so new, websites tracking by hour or day, may hype the situation. Or in other words, docs & scientists are still refining how we report and our knowledge of the virus so stats will change. From day-to-day you might find spikes due to how it is diagnosed and not because there are suddenly large outbreaks.

  • So far, mild cases are in the 80% range.

  • Death rates? If you don’t have a pre-existing condition then it is less than 1%. If you have a history of cardiovascular disease then the risk is more than 10%.

Where Can I Stay Up to Date on the pandemic?

Immune System Support

Real talk—we have no idea what is effective in treating this. We haven’t had enough time to figure this all out. And at this time, we do not have any pharmaceuticals that we know will work against it. This may change as we increase our knowledge of this virus. We do not know what will prevent or treat this virus 100% outside of staying home, hand washing, and avoiding travel to areas with high rates of infections. What we do know is that we have an immune system (unless you’re immunocompromised) and that is our best defense when we do contract a virus. And there are things we can do to give our body a leg up to do its job. Vitamin D3 This vitamin helps regulate the immune system. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory, so optimal amounts are really important (1). Additionally, research has shown that vitamin D supplementation can help protect you against the flu and respiratory tract infections (2). Some foods that contain vitamin D include fatty fish (e.g. salmon, mackerel, sardines) and cod liver oil. Look for a Vitamin D3/K2 in a capsule or emulsified liquid with vitamin D3 (and vitamins K1 and K2). The Vitamin D Council recommends the following maintenance dosages on days that you don’t sunbathe:

  • Children: 1,000 IU/ 25lbs of body weight, up to 125lbs (A 50lb child would need 2,000 IU)

  • Adults: 5,000 IU

  • Pregnant & Breastfeeding: 5,000 IU daily*

*Note that if mom is sufficient then it is unlikely baby also needs a vitamin D supplement. Obese adults should consider a higher dose, not to exceed 10,000 IU. If you are taking a dose higher than 5,000 IU daily then it is wise to retest after 3 months of supplementation to monitor your levels and then every 6 months or as often as your doctor recommends. Vitamin A In the early days of studying vitamin A it was called the “anti-infective vitamin” because of how necessary it is to immune function. Vitamin A deficiency can have such a profound impact on the immune system that it is considered an acquired immunodeficiency disease (1). With regards to the measles virus (not the same as coronavirus, but a virus well studied in regards to vitamin A), children who are mildly deficient in vitamin A have a higher rate of mortality, diarrhea, and respiratory complications compared to children eating adequate amounts of vitamin A (2). The World Health Organization recommends children over the age of one be given 200,000 IU of vitamin A if infected with the measles and live in vitamin A deficient areas (3). So there’s a good case to be made for vitamin A’s role in the immune system and in using it with viral illness. However, if you are eating sources of vitamin A (see below) then dosages this high are unlikely necessary. Vitamin A in high amounts can lead to headaches, dry skin, and other symptoms of toxicity. Taking a multivitamin with vitamin A, zinc, and vitamin D can help provide you with additional support. Zinc deficiency has been shown to interfere with vitamin A metabolism (4). If you’re considering using higher than 10,000 IU of vitamin A, please consult your doctor first. Retinyl palmitate and other forms of preformed vitamin A should not be taken in high dosages if you are trying to conceive or are pregnant. Good idea to check with your doc on this one before supplementing! Food Sources of Vitamin A

  • Eggs Yolk

  • Bone Broth

  • Chicken Fat

  • Cod Liver Oil

  • Grass fed butter

  • Sweet Potato

  • Carrots

  • Cantaloupe

  • Spinach

  • Butternut squash

  • Pumpkin

Zinc Zinc is essential for immune function (1). Zinc deficiencies are associated with increased susceptibility to infections and a decreased capacity for the immune system to combat illness (2). BTW, zinc lozenges haven’t been shown to all that effective for the common cold. But other studies have found that taking zinc within the first 24 hours of cold symptoms may reduce the severity and duration (3). Other studies regarding the common cold have found that zinc appears to be most effective for adults (40). Remember, this doesn’t mean it will or will not work with coronavirus. But what we do know is that if you don’t have adequate zinc then your immune system can be in big trouble. Zinc can be found in oysters, beef, turkey, pine nuts, cashews, and chickpeas. Zinc During Illness It is generally recommended to use zinc for the duration of symptoms and discontinue 2 days after symptoms have resolved. Zinc should not be used long term.

  • For Children 2+, consider 5-10 mg 1-2 times daily.

  • For Adults, consider 30 mg 1-3 times daily.


  • Sleep in a dark room

  • Most people sleep better when their room is cool (less than 70F)

  • Avoid eating 2 hours before bed (unless you have a medical condition)

  • Avoid alcohol in the evening

  • Consider blue light blocking glasses in the evening.

Elderberry (Sambucus Formosana Nakai) Do we know for sure this is effective against Coronavirus? Remember, we don’t know what is at this point, but a good starting place is to look at things with antiviral properties. This species of elderberry (this is not elderberry syrup or black elderberry) has been shown to have antiviral properties against the flu virus and a strain of the Human Coronavirus, but not the current one we’re talking about here. What makes this effective? It appears that an active constituent called caffeic acid is able to halt replication of Human Coronavirus NL63. Caffeic acid is also found in herbs like oregano, thyme, and turmeric. It’s also in cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, kale, and cabbage.


Citations: Vitamin D Studies

  1. Wang H, Chen W, Li D, et al. Vitamin D and Chronic Diseases. Aging Dis. 2017;8(3):346–353. Published 2017 May 2.

  2. Mitsuyoshi Urashima, Takaaki Segawa, Minoru Okazaki, Mana Kurihara, Yasuyuki Wada, Hiroyuki Ida, Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 91, Issue 5, May 2010, Pages 1255–1260

Vitamin A Studies

  1. Semba RD. Vitamin A and human immunodeficiency virus infection. Proc Nutr Soc. 1997;56(1B):459-469.

  2. Field CJ, Johnson IR, Schley PD. Nutrients and their role in host resistance to infection. J Leukoc Biol. 2002;71(1):16-32.

  3. World Health Organization. Guideline - Neonatal vitamin A supplementation Geneva 2011.

  4. Christian P, West KP, Jr. Interactions between zinc and vitamin A: an update. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998;68(2 Suppl):435S-441S.

Zinc Studies

  1. Baum MK, Shor-Posner G, Campa A. Zinc status in human immunodeficiency virus infection. J Nutr. 2000;130(5S Suppl):1421S-1423S.

  2. Maares M, Haase H. Zinc and immunity: An essential interrelation. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2016;611:58-65.

  3. Hulisz, Darrell. Efficacy of Zinc Against Common Cold Viruses: An Overview. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, Volume 44, Issue 5, 594 - 603

  4. Science M, Johnstone J, Roth DE, Guyatt G, Loeb M. Zinc for the treatment of the common cold: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. CMAJ. 2012;184(10):E551–E561. doi:10.1503/cmaj.111990

Herbal Antivirals Oregano

  1. Gilling, D., Kitajima, M., Torrey, J. and Bright, K. (2014), Antiviral efficacy and mechanisms of action of oregano essential oil and its primary component carvacrol against murine norovirus. J Appl Microbiol, 116: 1149-1163.

  2. Pilau MR, Alves SH, Weiblen R, Arenhart S, Cueto AP, Lovato LT. Antiviral activity of the Lippia graveolens (Mexican oregano) essential oil and its main compound carvacrol against human and animal viruses. Braz J Microbiol. 2011;42(4):1616–1624. doi:10.1590/S1517-838220110004000049

  3. Ben-Arye E, Dudai N, Eini A, Torem M, Schiff E, Rakover Y. Treatment of upper respiratory tract infections in primary care: a randomized study using aromatic herbs. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:690346. doi:10.1155/2011/690346

Oregano & Thyme

  1. Sharifi-Rad J, Salehi B, Schnitzler P, Ayatollahi SA, Kobarfard F, Fathi M, Eisazadeh M, Sharifi-Rad M5. Susceptibility of herpes simplex virus type 1 to monoterpenes thymol, carvacrol, p-cymene and essential oils of Sinapis arvensis L., Lallemantia royleana Benth. and Pulicaria vulgaris Gaertn.Cell Mol Biol (Noisy-le-grand). 2017 Aug 30;63(8):42-47. doi: 10.14715/cmb/2017.63.8.10.


  1. Hudson JB. Applications of the phytomedicine Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) in infectious diseases. J Biomed Biotechnol. 2012;2012:769896. doi:10.1155/2012/769896


  1. Khwaza V, Oyedeji OO, Aderibigbe BA. Antiviral Activities of Oleanolic Acid and Its Analogues. Molecules. 2018;23(9):2300. Published 2018 Sep 9. doi:10.3390/molecules23092300

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