Athletes know that exercise is one of the best ways to promote a healthy body including a strong immune system. But there are other ways to continue to increase wellness right now such as taking supplements to prevent the risk of getting sick.
Those who are committed to their fitness goals are no stranger to supplements. This includes our favorite energy chews to withstand endurance workouts to recovery shakes that promote protein synthesis. Others might use creatine for before weight lifting or beta-alanine to concentrate more on those reps.
But these are also supplements to take outside of workouts. Preventing getting sick now so that you can continue to crush it in your workouts.
Vitamin C is one of the best supplements to take to prevent getting sick. It is used to protect athletes from the common cold and flu to upper respiratory infections. It’s even one of the suggested supplements to take when facing the COVID-19 crisis.
While it is not treatment just yet, researchers are looking into how it plays a role in battling coronavirus. Doctors are studying the effects of a high dose of vitamin C given intravenously in COVID-19 patients.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals to prevent cell damage and repair damned cells. It supports a healthy immune system by reducing inflammation and supporting the function of phagocytes, which are immune cells that eat up harmful bacteria. IT also boosts lymphocyte production, cells that increase antibodies. It also boosts collagen production, which then makes the skin a better barrier from foreign bodies entering.
It is easy to get the recommended daily dose of vitamin C, which is found in oranges, strawberries, and broccoli. However, the body does not store vitamin C, so taking a supplement is a great way to boost the immune system.
To fight off a virus or infection, the immune system’s T cells (CD8+ T cells and CD4+ T cells) go to work to kill off the foreign cells and make clones of themselves to get rid of the illness. But
to prevent death as it divides T cells need a repairing enzyme called Gpx4 which can be found in vitamin E.
A study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine found that mice who were fed 500 mg per kg of vitamin E in their food were successful in fighting off a viral infection.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant, meaning it helps to protect cells from damage—both by free radicals and foreign invasions like germs. Vitamin E is shown to boost the immune system to combat bacteria and viruses.
So having a diet that contains vitamin E will help support a healthy immune system to help prevent athletes from getting sick. Vitamin E supplements are another way to get the recommended daily allowances, which is 15 mg for adult men and women.
This is a flavonoid found in plants and food like apples or green tea that is a powerful antioxidant. Quercetin supplements are also popular among athletes because it may improve performance and is often taken for recovery because of its anti-inflammatory benefits.
Studies suggest that its anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties combined with its prevent of cell damage and its stimulate mitochondrial biogenesis may also play a positive role in the immune system.
Researchers are now looking into whether or not quercetin is successful at blocking the ACE2 receptors on cells, which the ones that COVID-19 attaches to. Think of the virus as a key that fits into the lock of these receptors. The virus then takes over the cell and reproduces. Quercetin might also be a “key” that blocks the coronavirus.
Researchers are also looking into zinc as a way to treat and prevent coronavirus. Zinc is essential for supporting a healthy immune system, so in turn, it helps immune cells fight off bacteria and viruses.
Studies suggest the zinc can help speed up recovery time and lessen symptoms when faced with a common cold.
Athletes preventing getting sick should have a diet that contains foods rich in zinc such as red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains, and dairy products. To make sure you are getting enough zinc, there are also supplements available. Adult men need 11 mg of zinc per day and women 8 mg.
Athletes need to make sure they are getting enough vitamin D—especially if they don’t want to get injured or get sick.
Vitamin D is needed for bone health, preventing fractures and promoting skeletal muscle growth. It also reduces inflammation, the risk of arthritis and osteoporosis.
In its own right, vitamin D is important when training and for performance. But it also important for immunity. It “has the ability to turn on the gene expression of broad spectrum antimicrobial peptides”, helping tells including in the respiratory tract to fight invading viruses, and bacterial.
Studies suggest that it reduces susceptibility to the common cold and flu. And this is important because athletes are often at risk. A study conducted on college athletes found that those with low vitamin D levels were more likely to catch an upper respiratory illness during the winter and springtime than those who store of at least 95 nmol/L.
Those who can’t drink milk might consider a vitamin D supplement, with drops being among the popular options.
There is a good chance that athletes consume a healthy, well-balanced diet, especially when training for an endurance event. But there is always a chance that an athlete is lacking somewhere in their diet.
This is why taking a daily multivitamin is a great proactive step to maintaining optimal health and to prevent the athlete from getting sick.
Multi-vitamins combine a few important vitamins together in one capsule instead of taking multiple pills. The types and percentages of vitamins vary among supplements. Always read its label.
Other Immune System Boosting Supplements
This is a supplement that is often recommended by doctors. It is believed to boost what is known as natural killer cells. This is similar to T cells that are on the frontlines of fighting off infections.
This supplement is often taken by cancer patients and those fighting viral infections for this reason. NK-Stim supplements boost the natural killer cells to promote a healthy immune system
This is a great supplement for athletes over the age of 40. This supplement contains phytonutrients to boost energy production and support the function of the powerhouse in the cells. As a result, it is used for increasing energy, but it also helps reduced inflammation.
The supplement also has ingredients that are similar to vitamin E, as well as resveratrol, which both have antioxidant benefits. This is just another way older athletes can help prevent getting sick.
Can Vitamin E Rescue Your Immune Cells, Futurity, https://www.futurity.org/vitamin-e-immune- cells-894482/
Moriguchi S, Muraga M, Vitamin E and immunity, NIH, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/ 10714244
Yao Li,1,* Jiaying Yao,1 Chunyan Han,1 Jiaxin Yang,1 Maria Tabassum Chaudhry,1 Shengnan Wang,1 Hongnan Liu,2,* and Yulong Yin, Quercetin, Inflammation and Immunity, NIH https:// www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4808895/
Joe Schwarcz PhD, Quercetin- To Take or Not to Take, https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/health/ quercetin-take-or-not-take
Zinc, National Institutes of Health, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-Consumer/
SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD, Can Vitamin C Protect You from COVID-19?, Healthline, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-c-coronavirus#vitamin-c-immunity
The Importance of Vitamin D For Athletes, Sports Science Exchange, https://www.gssiweb.org/ sports-science-exchange/article/sse-148-the-importance-of-vitamin-d-for-athletes