Corvallis, OR—Supplements containing vitamin C and D are a safe, effective, and low-cost means of helping the immune system fight off COVID-19 and other acute respiratory tract diseases, according to an Oregon State University researcher, whosefindings were published in Nutrients.

Adrian Gombart, Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the OSU College of Science, said in a press release: “Around the world, acute respiratory tract infections kill more than 2.5 million people every year. Meanwhile, there’s a wealth of data that shows the role that good nutrition plays in supporting the immune system. As a society we need to be doing a better job of getting that message across along with the other important, more common messages.”

Gombart and his collaborators at the University of Southampton (United Kingdom), the University of Otago (New Zealand), and University Medical Center (The Netherlands) are urging not only a daily multivitamin, but doses of 200 milligrams or more of vitamin C and 2,000 international units of vitamin D.

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“The roles that vitamins C and D play in immunity are particularly well known,” Gombart said in the release. “Vitamin C has roles in several aspects of immunity, including the growth and function of immune cells and antibody production. Vitamin D receptors on immune cells also affect their function. This means that vitamin D profoundly influences your response to infections.

“The problem is that people simply aren’t eating enough of these nutrients,” Gombart continued. “This could destroy your resistance to infections. Consequently, we will see an increase in disease and all of the extra burdens that go along with that increase.”

He noted that, in addition to vitamins C and D, zinc and the omega-3 DHA are also critical for immune function.

Gombart stressed in the release that current public health practices—social distancing, hygiene, and vaccinations—are important and effective, but that a nutritional focus on immunity could help minimize the impact of many kinds of infections. “The present situation with COVID-19 and the number of people dying from other respiratory infections make it clear that we are not doing enough,” he said in the release. “We strongly encourage public health officials to include nutritional strategies in their arsenal.”