Coronavirus: Protect yourself with vitamin C & D from the current infectious outbreak
Feb 5, 2020
What is coronavirus and how worried should we be?
Are individuals in your workplace, school or community concerned about contracting it? How to protect ourselves from this virus?
Coronavirus (CoV) is a respiratory virus that cause illness ranging from common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), which is well-known to cause an outbreak back in the year of 2003. Another severe disease is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) which was reported in 2019, Saudi Arabia. Some strains even cause mild illnesses that are never been tested. However, the recent outbreak started in Wuhan province with a virus referred by United States Centers for Disease Control as the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) has caused more than thousands of the individuals worldwide to be infected. And it has now confirmed the outbreak in China, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippine and USA.
These rising number of cases has been rising fears across the globe. But what can be done to prevent this deadly virus spreading? To date, there is no specific treatment for Covid-19 infection yet. Meanwhile, as the international medical experts are still striving to find the vaccine for Covid-19, it is vitally essential for all individuals to play their part in preventing the virus by strengthening own immune system.
A robust immune function could help in reducing the risks of viral and bacterial infections. As the immune system can help the body to fight against the infection caused by viruses and speed up the recovery processes after an infection. There are two vitamins may provide a good immune booster, especially during this outbreak, they are known to be vitamin C and D.
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that unable to be produced by the body and must be obtained from food or supplement. Many studies have shown vitamin C has been linked to its impressive health benefit in strengthening the body’s natural defense. One of the significant roles of vitamin C in enhancing immune function is by encouraging the synthesis of white blood cells (lymphocytes and phagocytes), which help to protect the body against viral and/or bacterial infection. Apart from that, vitamin C is also an essential part of the skin’s defense system. Vitamin C is actively being transported to the skin during the infectious period, where it can act as an antioxidant to reinforce the skin’s barrier against the viruses and bacteria from entering the body.
Other than vitamin C, another important nutrient is vitamin D. Vitamin D does not cover only the well-known function of calcium and bone physiological health. It exerts a key function in immune modulation activities by regulating the activities of the immune cells in the body. It helps to keep the immune system balanced in the innate, which manifests much like a gymnast walking on a balance beam. In 2017, an intensive analysis of prospective clinical trials showed that taking vitamin D supplementation reduces the risks of developing a respiratory infection by approximately 42% in individuals with a low level of vitamin D at the beginning of the trial. On the other hand, vitamin D also helps to boost the immune system by stimulating the production of antimicrobial proteins that help to protect the body against the invasion of viruses and bacteria. These antimicrobial proteins will then live in the immune cells throughout the body and consistently protect for the body to fight off the viruses and bacteria that cause respiratory infections.
Other than dietary supplementation, here are some preventive measures that can be taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19:
- Avoid traveling in areas that have coronavirus outbreaks
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing before quickly throwing it away•Wear a face mask when in crowded areas
- Avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing and sneezing
- Avoid consuming raw or undercooked animal products such as milk, meat, and eggs
- Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat)
- Monitor your health frequently. If you develop fever or cough, present yourself to a healthcare facility as soon as possible and share your travel history, if any.
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- Perimbanayagam, K. (2020). Make sure immune system is strongand fit to fight [online]. Kuala Lumpur. New Straits Times. Available from: https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/
2020/01/560946/make-sure-immune-system-strong-and-fit-fight [accessed 1 February 2020].
- Fuchs, J. and Kern, H. (1998). Modulation of UV-light-induced skin inflammation by d-alpha-tocopherol and l-ascorbic acid: a clinical study using solar simulated radiation. Free Medical and Biology Medicine. 25(9): 1006-12.3.
- Huijskens, M.J. et. al. (2014). Technical advance: ascorbic acid induces development of double-positive T cells from human hematopoietic stem cells in the absence of stromal cells. J of Leukocyte Biology. 96(6): 1165-75.4.
- Wacker, M. and Holick, M.F. (2013). Vitamin D -effects on skeletal and extraskeletal health and the need for supplementation. Nutrients. 5(1):111-48.5.
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- Guidelines 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Management in MalaysiaNo. 2/2020