THE ongoing pandemic has forced many people around the world to reassess their decisions surrounding eating and exercise. Many Malaysians have had to undergo drastic changes to their lifestyles, whether cooking at home more often, or ordering from food delivery services.
These changes have caused more people to become concerned with their long-term health, leading to a growing focus on foods that can improve the body’s natural immunity. Many have also begun turning to supplements.
According to a survey by Rakuten Insight on dietary supplements in Malaysia conducted in July last year, the majority of respondents aged between 16 and 44 stated that their frequency of taking dietary supplements increased after the outbreak of Covid-19. These included herbal or botanical preparations, minerals or vitamins.
While there are no foolproof replacements for key essentials like regular sleep, light exercise and consuming adequate amounts of water and plenty of fruits and vegetables, there is no doubt certain supplements can provide a solid foundation for better health.
Top 10 best supplements
Here are 10 supplements you should look out for if you are hoping to improve your immune system, and reduce your risk of catching a cold.
Vitamin C: Generally, Vitamin C can help fight a cold faster or ease cold symptoms if you were taking it prior to getting sick. As an antioxidant, Vitamin C can help reduce inflammation – and lung inflammation is a severe symptom of Covid-19, which can lead to respiratory distress or even death.
Vitamin D: The primary function of Vitamin D is to help your body maintain optimal blood levels of calcium and phosphorous, which you can get through exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, or through supplements and the foods you eat. It can also protect you from respiratory infections.
Zinc: This is a mineral that is commonly added to supplements and other healthcare products such as lozenges that are meant to boost your immune system. It is needed for immune cell development and communication and plays an important role in inflammatory response.
B Complex Vitamins: Vitamin B6 is essential to keep your immune system in top condition. Be sure to get enough Vitamin B as a supplement as part of your daily diet (you can easily get your daily intake from fortified cereals) or in a multivitamin.
Elderberries: Full of antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, elderberry syrup is used as a remedy for colds, flu and bacterial sinus infections. Studies also suggest elderberry extract reduces the duration of the flu, leading some to believe it may help your immune system against Covid-19 infection.
Acai berry: This is a potent antioxidant and stimulator of the immune system, and researchers are studying it as a potential treatment for all kinds of conditions. It is often touted as a supporting ingredient for general health and immune function.
Garlic: Garlic has powerful anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. It has been shown to enhance immune health by stimulating protective white blood cells like NK (natural killer) cells and macrophages.
Curcumin: Curcumin is derived from the Curcuma longa plant, commonly known as turmeric. Curcumin is used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for its analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic quality. Curcumin can also help fight inflammation and aid the body’s immune response.
Selenium: Selenium is a mineral that is essential for immune health. Animal research demonstrated that selenium supplements may enhance antiviral defence against certain influenza strains.
Licorice root: Licorice contains many substances, including glycyrrhizin, that may help protect against viral infections. Additionally, licorice root can loosen congestion and reduce inflammation. You can also chew a piece of licorice root or drink licorice tea.
It is important to take note that dietary supplements should not replace complete meals, which are essential to nurturing the body. It is also good practice to talk to healthcare providers before making any decision about taking supplements as doctors can help people achieve a balance between nutrients from food and supplements.
Many supplements also contain active ingredients that may have strong biological effects. Any of the following actions could be harmful or even life threatening – combining supplements, mixing supplements with medicines, or taking too much of some supplements, especially Vitamin A, Vitamin D and iron.
Hopefully, our suggestions have given you ideas on what to choose to supplement your healthy diet.