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Which supplements should I take for immunity?

April 09, 2020

Supplements for immunity

Taking the right supplements can help give an added boost to your immune system, improving your bodies resistance and ability to fight back. This article has a slant towards the respiratory system given the current pandemic. 

Here are the supplements I recommend you take for immunity:

Vitamin C

Long known for its immune benefits Vitamin C has proven and approved health claims by EFSA (the European Food Standards Agency). These claims include:

  • Contributes to the normal function of the immune system
  • Contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress

Preventing and treating respiratory infections with large amounts of Vitamin C is well established.

As one Orthomolecular Doctor stated "I have not seen any flu yet that was not cured or markedly ameliorated by massive doses of vitamin C." (Robert F. Cathcart, MD)

Seriously unwell Coronavirus patients in New York are being given 1500mg of IV Vitamin C 3-4 times a day after the promising treatment with Vitamin C being used in China. Most of us aren't in a position to IV Vitamin C but we can increase it, based on symptoms and requirement, up to bowel tolerance. As it is a water soluble vitamin there is no point taking more than our body can process - the excess is excreted in urine. 

At one hospital in Shanghai Dr. Enqian Mao has successfully treated 50 cases of moderate to severe cases of Covid-19 infection with high dose IVC - between 10,000-20,000mg per day. All patients recovered, there were no deaths and their hospital stays were 3-5 days shorter than overall. While this is a small number of cases for a study, which is not even yet published, it does show a potential treatment protocol. 

Recommended dosage: 1000 mg once to three times per day for prevention.

Vitamin D

Essential for the proper functioning of your immune system vitamin D enhances the activity and response of white blood cells in infection. The NHS issued guidelines state that it is difficult to obtain enough during winter months (which requires a catch up period once it becomes sunny) and therefore a supplement of 10mcg per day is recommended.

Dr John Campbell has a good video summarising the benefits of Vitamin D and respiratory illness:

For healthy children and adults, exposing the hands, face and arms on a clear summer day for 10-15 minutes several times each week provides adequate Vitamin D. It is stored in the Liver and is activated by the kidneys - if these are impaired it may reduce levels. Vitamin D, in its natural form, is found in eggs, fish and liver. Vitamin D2 is the form in most supplements but Vitamin D3 is the preferred form as it is twice as bioavailable as D2. 

Recommended dosage: 10mcg once per day for normal maintenance.

Up to 50mcg is sometimes used in acute situations however this would be under a practitioner.


Important for cellular immune response Zinc provides protection against various toxic compounds. Research shows that Zinc helps to regulate the immune system and is necessary for the survival, proliferation and maturation of immune cells.

Malabsorption of Zinc can occur as a result of ageing, high dose Calcium supplementation, bowel disorders or Type 1 Diabetes. Absorption from food is around 33% on average and it is found in oysters, peas, white beans, eggs and corn.

Recommended dosage: 7mg for women. 9.5mg for men. Up to 50mg is sometimes used in acute situations however this would be under a practitioner.


Magnesium plays a central role in 300 different chemical reactions in the body. Because it plays such a central role and because it is required to convert Vitamin D to its active form findings indicate it is possible that magnesiumintake alone or its interaction with vitamin D intake may contribute to vitamin D status.

Recommended dosage: 300mg for adults.


Low selenium status has been associated with increased risk of mortality, poor immune function, and cognitive decline. Higher selenium status or selenium supplementation has antiviral effects (it is not a cure for viruses though). It plays a central role in the bodies antioxidant defence system; it deactivates free radicals and oxidants using glutathione.

Recommended dosage: 60-100mcg once per day.

Probiotics – a note

Probiotics have been shown to have diverse effects on the immune system. One of the major mechanisms is through the regulation of host immune response. Some species are pro-inflammatory; inducing IL-12 and natural killer (NK) cell immunity. Other species are immunoregulatory aka anti-inflammatory due to their ability to induce IL-10 and regulatory T cell pathways. The overall effect on the immune system is, as yet, unknown and for this reason I recommend probiotics only where you have been already taking them or where specific strains are studied and recommended. They are not yet recommended for an acute situation in immune health.

Recommended dosage: Unknown for acute immunity- possibly safer as fermented foods such as kefir or kombucha.

For longer term immunity – 10-100 billion CFU per day.


Non-digestible fibre compounds that feed your gut bugs prebiotics are a slightly safer option than probiotics; our body use them as required. They have longer term benefits for immunity and can be found in the form of specialist supplements such as Bimuno or as foods high in fibre such as raw onions, green bananas or psyllium.

Recommended dosage: Unknown for acute immunity – possibly safer as food based psyllium or chicory supplement.

For longer term immunity – up to 10gm per day, starting slowly and building up.

Summary of nutrients for (respiratory) immunity:

Vitamin C – 1000 – 3000mg per day

Vitamin D – 10 – 50mcg per day

Zinc – 7 – 50mg per day

Magnesium – 300mg per day

Selenium – 60 – 100mcg per day

Probiotics – 10 – 100 billion CFU per day

Prebiotics – up to 10gm per day



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