I won’t repeat here all the advice given by our governing bodies, i.e. hand washing, staying home, etc. I think we got it, right?
No, I’m here to talk about how nutrition can boost your immune system, both in supplement and food form, and what I recommend as a nutritionist. Which is what I recommend ALL THE TIME, coronavirus or NOT.
My first advice is to put the junk food down. I repeat, step AWAY from the junk food! Processed and refined foods will DEPRESS your immune system, steal nutrients from your body and sugar is like pouring gasoline on the flames of inflammation. Of all the advice I’m asked for, this is the one people can’t wrap their head around. No supplement will outdo a bad diet.
WHY WE NEED SUPPLEMENTS
Can’t we get the nutrients out of our diet, Carole?
No, we can’t. At least not all that we need. Unless you’re eating food grown out of amazing soil, only eat grass-fed animals, never have never [smoked, drank alcohol, taken medications, eaten sugar and/or fried foods].
Our diets are not perfect and supplementing with nutrients is simply being smart, even if it’s just a basic multi.
But Carole, I’m so stressed right now…
Sure, I understand. There’s no need to become neurotic about your current diet, just be smart and include nutrient rich foods like those suggested below.
Choose a supplement that clearly states D3 and not D2. D3 is more bio-available to the body. Also, make sure your vitamin also has Vitamin K2 with it. If not, supplement with K2 on it own.
Dosage: it depends on your levels of Vitamin D, but I usually recommend 2500 IU per day, especially in winter!
- Sun exposure, 10-20 minutes per day, unprotected
- Halibut, cooked, 4 oz = 262 IU
- Mackerel, cooked, 4 oz = 518 IU
- Salmon, Pacific, wild-caught 4 oz = 480 IU
- Whitefish, cooked, 4 oz = 695 IU
- Swordfish, cooked, 4 oz = 755 IU
- Rainbow trout (wild), cooked, 4 oz = 678 IU
- Sardines, canned in water, 4 oz = 209 IU
- Tuna, raw, 4 oz = 257 IU
- Tuna, canned, light, water packed 4 oz = 181 IU
- Beef liver, raw 4 oz = 55 IU
- Portobella mushroom 1 cup cooked = 17 IU
- Eggs, raw, 2 medium = 77 IU
By the way, when was the last time you had your vitamin D levels checked? The test is called a 25-hydroxyvitaminD, it’s a blood draw. To have protective levels, according to several studies, levels should be between 60-80 ng.
Dosage: 500 to 1000 mg, twice a day. Build up to that dosage to avoid intestinal discomfort.
- Chili pepper green: 1 medium = 109 mg
- Guavas 1 = 126 mg
- Yellow pepper 1/2 cup = 137 mg
- Strawberries 1 cup of halves = 152 mg
- Kiwi 1 medium = 64 mg
- Orange 1 = 70 mg
- Kale, 1 cup cooked = 21 mg
- Brussels 1/2 cup cooked = 49 mg
- Cabbage green 1 cup shredded cooked = 56 mg
- Broccoli 1/2 cup cooked = 51 mg
- Tomato, red, 1 large = 25 mg
Dosage: 1 capsule 550 mcg per day
- Kale, 1 cup cooked = 493 mcg
- Spinach, 1 cup cooked = 445 mcg
- Turnip greens 1 cup cooked = 265
- Dandelion greens 1 cup raw = 214 mcg
- Swiss Chard 1 cup raw = 214
- Mustard greens 1 cup cooked = 210 mcg
- Brussels Sprouts 1 cup cooked = 109 mcg
- Scallions raw 1/2 cup = 103 mcg
- Cabbage green 1 cup shredded cooked = 161 mcg
- Beef liver, raw 4 oz = 3.7 mcg
- Chicken 3 oz cooked = 50 mcg
- Tomato, red, 1 large = 14 mcg
- Grass-fed ground beef 4 oz raw = 1.2 mcg
Dosage: aim for 50-100 mg once a day. If you’re not currently taking zinc supplement, gradually build up your dose.
- Pumpkin seeds 1 tbsp = 0.6 mg
- Grass-fed ground beef 4 oz raw = 5.2 mg
- Beef liver, raw 4 oz = 6 mg
- Lamb 4 oz = 3.8 mg
- Cashews 1/2 cup = 3.8 mg
- Chick peas 1 cup = 2.5 mg
- Portobella mushroom 1 cup cooked: 0.8 mg
- Chicken 4 oz = 1.6 mg
- Kefir or yogurt, unsweetened 1 cup = 1.4 mg
- Spinach 1 cup cooked = 1.4 mg
- Mackerel, cooked, 4 oz = 1 mg
- Sardines, canned in water, 4 oz = 1.6 mg
- Whitefish, cooked, 4 oz = 1.4 mg
Dosage: Magnesium has different forms. I personally use Thorne Research which has magnesium citrate and malate, 135 mg per capsule, 3 capsules per day, usually at night time. Magnesium is calming and can help with sleep and anxiety.
- Beef liver, raw 4 oz = 24 mg
- Cabbage green 1 cup shredded cooked = 22 mg
- Grass-fed ground beef 4 oz raw = 21 mg
- Mackerel, cooked, 4 oz = 40 mg
- Whitefish, cooked, 4 oz = 48 mg
- Swordfish, cooked, 4 oz = 40 mg
- Rainbow trout (wild), cooked, 4 oz = 35 mg
- Sardines, canned in water, 4 oz = 39 mg
- Tuna, raw, 4 oz = 57 mg
- Tuna, canned, light, water packed 4 oz = 30 mg
- Eggs, raw, 2 medium = 9 mg
- Sweet potato, baked, 6 oz = 46 mg
Dosage: quercetin is a flavonoid that has anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and antiviral activities, according to several studies. Since it’s not a vitamin or mineral, there is no RDA on it (Recommended Daily Allowance; please note RDAs are set at the minimum to avoid deficiency, not to promote optimal wellness). I use Thorne Research ResveraCel supplement, which combines Nicotinamide Riboside, trans-resveratrol and quercetin with 250 mg. ResveraCel is part of my anti-aging protocol.
Quercetin is considered a plant pigment and is found in deeply colored vegetables.
Apples, peppers, dark berries, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, sprouts), leafy greens (spinach, kale), citrus fruits, raw red onion, olive oil, black and green tea.
WHY NUTRIENT DENSE FOODS ARE IMPORTANT VS PROCESSED FOODS
Processed foods are stripped of most of its nutrition during the process of making it. Plus, manufacturers will add sugars in many forms, and additives and preservatives to make it “last long”. If the food is fried or cooked, the oils used are generally bad seed oils, like corn, canola or soybean oils.
That’s why you’ll see on packages the word “enriched”. Especially with foods using flours. Since the nutrition is stripped out of the food, artificial vitamins are added back, especial folic acid and vitamin D (think of milk). These added vitamins are not well absorbed by the body, and to be able to digest these foods, it actually pulls from the body those same vitamins and minerals we so badly need.
Real foods contain all the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants we need and every compound works with another so that our bodies absorb easily what we need.
In two words, NUTRIENT DENSITY is what we get from real foods.
HOW TO BUILD YOUR IMMUNE BOOSTING MEALS
When you pick foods from the list above, you are building a meal that will give you the nutrition needed for your body to be strong and healthy, as opposed to “junk” foods that will pull nutrition out of your body.
Example: Salmon fillet (4 oz), 1 cup steamed broccoli with 1 tbsp of butter, 1 large tomato sliced and sprinkled with salt and pepper, and 1 cup of strawberries for dessert.
That meal will give you 395 IU of vitamin D, 215 mg of vitamin C, 238 mcg of vitamin K, 114 mg of magnesium, 2.2 mg of zinc, without counting the B vitamins, folate, vitamin A & E, calcium, copper, iron phosphorus, potassium, selenium and sodium.
Here’s another example: grass-fed ground beef, 4 oz, cooked in 1 tbsp of butter, 1 cup of cooked kale with 1 tbsp of onions, one baked sweet potato 6 oz with 1 tbsp of sour cream.
This meal will give you 499 mcg of Vitamin K, 99 mg of magnesium, 6.1 mg of zinc, plus Vitamin A, B12, B6, calcium, copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus, selenium and sodium.
In this last meal, you’ll notice you won’t get any Vitamin D; but you’re getting almost 500 mcg of Vitamin K, which in turn will help your sun exposure transform into a greater absorption of Vitamin D. That’s what nutrient density does for you: it takes all the nutrients, makes them work together along with your body’s needs to give you optimal health.
ACTIONABLE NEXT STEPS
Plan your meals ahead, either in the morning or at night. Thaw your proteins the night before if needed, plan your shopping to get fresh vegetables and fruits.
Use simple recipes with limited ingredients; meals do not need to be super fancy but don’t skip on seasonings, like salt, pepper and garlic.
Follow me on Instagram as I share the meals I prepare each day.
Lastly, if you need supplements, make sure you get high quality brands, like Thorne Research, Biotics Research Douglas Laboratories, Apex Energetics and Design For Health. These great companies are facing higher than normal volumes and it’s not always easy to get them.
Stay healthy my friends!
References: I often use Dr. Josh Axe website as a reference. Give him a visit and check out his amazing posts on each nutrient.
For calculations of nutrients, I use www.chonometer.com. There is a free version app you can use to log your food and check out your intake of nutrients.
I just received a large order and have put together 5 supplements to help boost your immune system: ReservaCel, Magnesium CitraMate, Zinc Picolinate, Vitamin C with Flavonoids and K2-D3. The separate retail price of those five supplements is $136.50. I have a few bundles for $99.00. Send me an email if you’re interested at firstname.lastname@example.org.