Now more than ever, Americans are taking a closer look at the health of their immune system. Micronutrients – the vitamins, minerals, and molecules that regulate everything in biology – which are needed to launch a massive attack against the COVID virus are the same micronutrients needed to calm the storm once the threat subsides. Assessing micronutrient status is a key step in staying healthy during this pandemic.
A research paper from the medical journal Clinical Immunology, authored by scientists in seven countries – France, Thailand, India, Italy, Luxembourg, Iran and Norway – outlines with painstaking detail and precision, the various mechanisms of action of several nutrients with key roles in immune function. It states that “the balance between the immune activation and the counter-regulatory immunosuppression is crucial”.
In other words, we want our immune system to go into high gear at the appropriate time but also to settle down and quell the cytokine storm as well. Adaptability is the key to a robust immune system. Adaptability exists when immune cells can regulate the immune response to ramp up or down.
In a viral infection, there exists a delicate balance between immune activation and immune suppression.
If the immune cells are worn out, or in medical jargon ‘functionally exhausted’, they can’t figure out what to do and go one of two ways – (1) they don’t do anything and the virus takes over, or (2) they go haywire and cause more damage to the host.
This balancing act in a healthy immune system is totally nutrient-dependent.
Eight nutrients are covered. The paper reviews each nutrients’ mechanism of action, effects of deficiency, and potential benefit of supplementation when appropriate – all with a specific focus on COVID-19.
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- N-acetyl cysteine
So this begs the question – why not take all these supplements? Besides the cost, inconvenience and potential for imbalance of indiscriminately ingesting supplements, a more specific answer points to at least one study referenced in the paper. Only people who were actually deficient in vitamin D had a reduced risk of infection when supplemented. People who were not deficient showed no benefit. In other words, if your cells are not deficient, supplementing will not necessarily help you.
The answer is to test for micronutrient deficiency and supplement accordingly. The paper explicitly states that “nutritional status assessments are critical for determining the comprehensive actions in COVID-19.” Further, the “deficiency state of specific nutrients increases an individual susceptibility” to severe symptoms from SARS-CoV2, and specifically mentions T-cell function as nutrient-dependent.
SpectraCell Laboratories measures the function of all 8 nutrients (plus another 27) in T-lymphocytes – the very immune cell much of this paper references. We have known for years that micronutrient deficiency compromises immune health because we have been measuring it for three decades. Finally, nutrient status and its role in immune health is gaining the attention it deserves.
(Clinical Immunology, July 2020)
LINK to FREE FULL TEXT Micronutrients as immunomodulatory tools for COVID-19 management.