Vitamin A, D, and E could help people ward off respiratory illnesses and viral infections like COVID-19.
The effect of nutrition on improving the immune system due to the human body’s complexity is not wholly clear.
However, we know for sure that some nutrients play a key part in the reduction of different infections and diseases.
Past studies show that vitamin C is effective in treating or preventing pneumonia as well as supporting white blood cells to overcome viral infections such as flu and the common cold.
Data from an eight-year survey on 6,115 UK adult patients has now found that vitamin A, D and E intake were linked to a reduction in respiratory complaints, in particular viral infections.
However, this study didn’t find any effect from vitamin C supplements or food intake on respiratory diseases.
Vitamin A and vitamin E from supplements and food intake, vitamin D supplements (but not from the diet) showed significant reductions in respiratory conditions such as colds and lung diseases including asthma.
Food such as cheese, full-fat milk, liver, dark green leafy vegetables, and carrots are high in vitamin A while wheat germ oil, nuts and seeds, avocado, and olive oil are sources of vitamin E.
Dr Suzana Almoosawi and Dr Luigi Palla, the authors of this study, wrote:
“It is estimated that around a fifth of the general population in the UK have low vitamin D, and over 30% of older adults aged 65 years and above do not achieve the recommended nutrient intake.
Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that supplementation is critical to ensuring adequate vitamin D status is maintained and potentially indicate that intake of vitamin D from diet alone cannot help maintain adequate vitamin D status.”
Professor Sumantra Ray from NNEdPro Global Centre for Nutrition and Health, said:
“Nationally representative data continue to remind us that micronutrient deficiencies are far from a thing of the past, even in higher income nations like the UK, and this trend is mirrored by comparable global data sources from lesser resourced countries to those with advanced health systems.
Despite this, micronutrient deficiencies are often overlooked as a key contributor to the burden of malnutrition and poor health, presenting an additional layer of challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was published in the journal BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health (Almoosawi & Palla., 2020).