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How to Stay Healthy During This World-Wide Pandemic

How to Stay Healthy During This World-Wide Pandemic

Key Nutrients for Building a Healthy Immune System

Written by Emily Durham, MS, and Amy Chapin, Pharm. D.

In the wake of COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus), many of our patients are inquiring about how to stay healthy and boost their immune system. During this pandemic, our pharmacists advise that the most important way to stay healthy is to follow the current CDC recommendations for social distancing and staying home while sick.

The following news outlets are reputable sources to receive the most up-to-date information on COVID-19:

Staying hydrated, eating a balanced diet, and regular exercise lay the foundation for maintaining a healthy immune system year-round. Below are some of the key nutrients that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends for adults to incorporate in their daily diet in order to support a healthy immune system:

  1. Zinc

Zinc is one of the most essential minerals in cellular metabolism and immune function. Additionally, studies have shown that Zinc can shorten the length of the common cold. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)* for women over 19 years of age is 8mg/day. 1

Table 1. Zinc Rich Foods1

Food Milligrams (mg)per serving   Percent DV*

Oysters, cooked, breaded and fried, 3 ounces 74.0 673

Beef chuck roast, braised, 3 ounces 7.0 64

Crab, Alaska king, cooked, 3 ounces 6.5 59

Beef patty, broiled, 3 ounces 5.3 48

Lobster, cooked, 3 ounces 3.4 31

Porkchop, loin, cooked, 3 ounces 2.9 26

Baked beans, canned, plain or vegetarian, ½ cup 2.9 26

Chicken, dark meat, cooked, 3 ounces 2.4 22

Pumpkin seeds, dried, 1 ounce 2.2 20

Yogurt, fruit, low fat, 8 ounces 1.7 15

Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce 1.6 15

Chickpeas, cooked, ½ cup 1.3 12

Cheese, Swiss, 1 ounce 1.2 11

Oatmeal, instant, plain, prepared with water 1.1 10

Milk, low-fat or non-fat, 1 cup 1.0 9

Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce 0.9 8

Kidney beans, cooked, ½ cup 0.9 8

Chicken breast, roasted, skin removed, ½ breast 0.9 8

Cheese, cheddar or mozzarella, 1 ounce 0.9 8

Peas, green, frozen, cooked, ½ cup 0.5 5

Flounder or sole, cooked, 3 ounces 0.3 3

  1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a critical nutrient that supports your muscles, bones, and immune system. There are many ongoing studies that support the powerful benefits of Vitamin D. Most physicians include Vitamin D blood testing for all adults during annual exams. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)* for women over 19 years of age is 600IU (15mcg)/day. 2

Table 2. Vitamin D Rich Foods2

Food IUs per serving*       Percent DV**

Cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon 1,360 340

Swordfish, cooked, 3 ounces 566 142

Salmon (sockeye), cooked, 3 ounces 447 112

Tuna fish, canned in water, drained, 3 ounces 154 39

Orange juice fortified with vitamin D, 1 cup (check product labels, as amount of added vitamin D varies) 137 34

Milk, vitamin D-fortified, 1 cup 115-124 29-31

Yogurt, fortified with 20% of the DV for vitamin D, 6 ounces (more heavily fortified yogurts provide more of the DV) 80 20

Margarine, fortified, 1 tablespoon 60 15

Sardines, canned in oil, drained, 2 sardines 46 12

Liver, beef, cooked, 3 ounces 42 11

Egg, 1 large (vitamin D is found in yolk) 41 10

Ready-to-eat cereal, fortified with 10% of the DV for vitamin D, 0.75-1 cup (more heavily fortified cereals might provide more of the DV) 40 10

Cheese, Swiss, 1 ounce 6 2

  1. Vitamin C

Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) is an essential antioxidant that plays an important role in the human immune system and cellular function. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)* for women over 19 years of age is 75mg/day. It is also recommended that people that smoke will need an additional 35mg/day. 3

Table 3. Vitamin C Rich Foods 3

Food     Milligrams (mg) per serving Percent (%) DV*

Red pepper, sweet, raw, ½ cup 95 106

Orange juice, ¾ cup 93 103

Orange, 1 medium 70 78

Grapefruit juice, ¾ cup 70 78

Kiwifruit, 1 medium 64 71

Green pepper, sweet, raw, ½ cup 60 67

Broccoli, cooked, ½ cup 51 57

Strawberries, fresh, sliced, ½ cup 49 54

Brussels sprouts, cooked, ½ cup 48 53

Grapefruit, ½ medium 39 43

Broccoli, raw, ½ cup 39 43

Tomato juice, ¾ cup 33 37

Cantaloupe, ½ cup 29 32

Cabbage, cooked, ½ cup 28 31

Cauliflower, raw, ½ cup 26 29

Potato, baked, 1 medium 17 19

Tomato, raw, 1 medium 17 19

Spinach, cooked, ½ cup 9 10

Green peas, frozen, cooked, ½ cup 8 9

If you are interested in adding dietary supplements to your health regimen, we recommend consulting with your primary care physician and pharmacist before purchasing any supplements or over-the-counter medications. Many prescription medications and health conditions can interact with or deplete key nutrients. Integrity Compounding Pharmacy has a private online supplement dispensary where you can shop for high-quality supplements, message our pharmacist, and set up auto-delivery. If you’re interested in ordering supplements, please call us at (404) 815-1610.

Stay Well!

Sincerely,

Emily Durham, MS

Resources for Supplements, Nutrient and Health Information:

  1. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-Consumer/
  2. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-Consumer/
  3. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-Consumer/

Key Terms:

*Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): Average daily level of intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97%–98%) healthy individuals; often used to plan nutritionally adequate diets for individuals.

Disclaimer: The information provided should not take the place of medical advice. You should speak with your physician and pharmacist before starting any over-the-counter supplements or changing your diet. The supplements listed above may interact with medications or certain health conditions.

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