Corona threat and supplementation - resveratrol, vitamin D3 and zinc - About Health | Blog

Corona threat and supplementation - resveratrol, vitamin D3 and zinc

There has been a huge amount of talk recently on COVID-19, in fact over 1.1 billion news articles covering this as of the 9th of March. But with all the hype, what do we actually know?

1) Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory infections. These can range from the common cold to more serious diseases.

2) COVID-19 is the disease caused by a new coronavirus and it was first reported in December 2019.

3) It spreads quickly – this isn’t to say that everyone is at risk, however simple, common-sense techniques such as hand washing and covering our mouths when we cough, or sneeze play a big role in containment.

4) Its severity depends on the person – whilst most people may get a fever and cough, the elderly, immune suppressed and those who have underlying health problems are most at risk. Stopping the spread of the disease is important to protect those groups and not to overload the already under strain medical services.

5) Vaccines are not available at present – whilst many organisations are working on a vaccine there isn’t one available yet, which is why point 1 and 2 are so important.

So armed with this knowledge, what are some of the things we can do?

1) Wash your hands, regularly and thoroughly.

2) Don’t go out if you don’t need to.

3) Keep your immune system as strong as it can be.

When we think of our immune system, do supplements or herbals work?

There are a number of supplements and natural remedies being promoted to prevent or treat COVID19, we don’t know for certain whether they will help people who are sick but some, such as vitamin D, look like low risk and very low-cost options to possibly reduce risk of illness and/or severe illness. Prevention is much easier than a cure etc, that’s the real purpose of supplements, giving ourselves a better chance of staying healthier for longer by supporting our immune system.

If you are planning to try any, be aware that quality and dosing are important considerations. Of course, the most important thing you can do to avoid infection with COVID-19 is to prevent exposure by following the latest recommendations from the ministry of health and the WHO, which now extend to no mass gatherings. This seems sensible whilst we work to understand what is going on.

Oddly enough, reports have come out that no children have died, and men are at greater risk than women. Reasons for the gender bias may be cultural, for example, smoking by males in Asian countries is higher - another reason to stop, now! It may also be proximal, as the virus attacks the lungs, physical contact, such as handshaking may be more predominant in males, all good reasons to respect the social distance.

It’s also important to take steps to stay healthy, including getting adequate sleep and exercise and eating a healthful diet which includes adequate, but not excessive, intakes of essential nutrients. Also take steps to control stress, which can impact our immune system.


Zinc: This has become one of the more popular suggestions for reducing symptoms. Although there is no direct evidence, zinc does have anti-viral properties. Although supplementing with zinc doesn’t benefit most people, it may help those who are zinc deficient, which is more common in the elderly and those who don’t absorb zinc well. Multiva and Element 12 both contain readily absorbable zinc and with good levels.

Vitamin D: Taken in moderate doses, may help reduce the risk of respiratory infections (coronavirus) such as influenza A in people who are deficient, Both versions of Lester’s Oil have the maximum amount of vitamin D you can buy without prescription in NZ

Although there is not currently any research suggesting vitamin D3 supplements decrease the risk of COVID-19 specifically, it’s too soon to know, maintaining adequate of Vitamin D through sunlight exposure, fortified foods or supplementation is a good, safe, preventative measure for supporting against respiratory infections in general, especially in these times. One-off doses and large doses may not be as helpful.

The thing to remember with taking vitamin D3 supplementation is to ensure that it is in fat or oil-based delivery systems to maximise the effectiveness.

Magnesium: This is about getting a good night’s sleep. When we sleep the body gets on and repairs the damage from the day and helps to ensure that we are as fighting fit as we can be. Broken and unrestful sleep can lead to irritability and increased load on our body.     

Element 12 has 3 forms of magnesium plus B vitamins that support our bodies in times of stress, it also contains zinc.  Magnesium can support relaxation and healthy nervous systems which both support getting that deep restful sleep that is important to keep our immune system healthy.

What does the research say?

There are some interesting research articles around respiratory diseases especially the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) looking at the emerging viral pathogen that causes severe morbidity and mortality. With no approved or licenced vaccine or antiviral medicine available, the research looked at the antiviral properties of resveratrol, a natural compound found in grape seeds and skin as well as Japanese Knotweed.

The researchers performed MTT and neutral red uptake assays to assess the survival rates of MERS-infected Vero E6 cells. What the results showed was significantly inhibited MERS-CoV infection and prolonged cellular survival after virus infection.

Yet another article from the Translational Medical Science looks at a range of coronaviruses and observed the fluorescence protein under a microscope when resveratrol was added. Again, the results showed a positive effect on applying resveratrol to the virus.

As with all research, it’s important to look at what was trialled and when, but the fact research has taken place and has had positive results is good news.

The above may be very technical, but resveratrol for many years has been researched for fighting lung diseases. There are no guarantees, but then supplements are about giving us a better chance of staying healthy, not cures when disaster strikes, that’s why it pays to take them consistently.

The important stuff

What’s important is that everyone takes responsibility for containment and reduction in spreading the virus through consistent and regular hand washing, use of hand sanitiser when out, and using common sense when interacting with others (no handshakes, or hugs etc), especially the most vulnerable in society and those who interact with the vulnerable.