These Are the Vitamins You Need Before Your COVID Vaccine, Doctor Says
These types of supplements are ideal for building a stronger immune system.
As COVID vaccine eligibility is opening up for millions more Americans across the nation, many people are preparing for their long-awaited, life-saving shots. More than 95 million people in the U.S.—approximately 28 percent of the population—have already received at least one dose of their coronavirus vaccine, as of Mar. 28, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you're in the remainder of the not-yet-vaccinated population, Andrew Myers, MD, a naturopathic physician who co-authored the soon-to-be released book Simplifying the COVID-19 Puzzle, has shared with our sister site, Eat This Not That Health, which vitamins could help you have a strong reaction to the COVID vaccine.
"The stronger an individual's immune system, the more responsive they are to a vaccine," Myers told ETNT Health. The vaccines work by introducing the threat of the virus (either via an mRNA vaccine like Pfizer or Moderna or a viral vector vaccine like Johnson & Johnson) to your body, prompting your immune system to recognize it and be prepared to fight it off in the future. And, in order to strengthen your immune system, Myers suggests turning to supplements and vitamins. "Supplemental nutrition is the most direct way to impact your immune health and function in the near term, and the following nutrients are essential as a part of your immune-boosting efforts," he said. Read on to discover what vitamins the doctor recommends, and for more ways to prepare for your COVID vaccination, check out 2 Things You Need to Stop Eating Before Your COVID Vaccine, New Study Says.
According to Myers, vitamin K2 is one of the five essential nutrients to boost your body's immunity, in addition to incorporating healthy food into your regular diet.
Myers said research he collected with his co-author, Grace McComsey, MD, "indicates that insufficient levels of vitamin K2 … are directly related to our susceptibility to COVID-19 and the seriousness of the outcomes should you become hospitalized."
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) describes vitamin K has a nutrient ideal for blood clotting and healthy bones. Myers explained that vitamin K2 is still "critical," but, as Healthline explains, K2 is "mainly found in certain animal and fermented foods, which most people don't eat much of," so there are multivitamin/multimineral supplements that you can take instead. However, you should talk to your doctor before adding any supplements of K2, or any other vitamin on this list, to your routine.
And for the vitamin to steer clear of, check out If You're Overdoing This Supplement, Your Heart Is at Risk, Doctors Say.
Additionally, vitamin D3 is useful in helping your body get ready for a vaccine. "Vitamin K2 and vitamin D3 work synergistically to improve our body's ability to mount a robust immune response and regulate healthy inflammation," Myers explained.
Healthline says that D3, a type of vitamin D, is only found in animal-sourced foods—oily fish and fish oil, liver, egg yolk, and butter—as well as dietary supplements.
"If somebody has nutritional deficiencies, nutrient deficiencies, then their immune system is not going to be operating at optimum levels," Katherine Basbaum, RD, of UVA Health System, told the Daily Press. In regards to taking supplements like D3, Basbaum said, "if you take somebody with known vitamin, mineral deficiencies, and they're kind of going into getting the vaccine with this weaker immune system, could it be beneficial? Possibly."
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Another potentially helpful nutrient for your COVID vaccine is vitamin C, Myers noted. Vitamin C helps form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle, and collagen in bones, according to the Mayo Clinic. "Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps protect your cells against the effects of free radicals—which might play a role in heart disease, cancer, and other diseases," the experts at the Mayo Clinic explain.
While Heather Koza, MD, a family medicine physician in Michigan, told Eating Well that "there is not enough research to support that anti-inflammatory foods or supplements such as vitamin C will make the COVID vaccine more effective … in general, eating highly nutritious food and taking vitamin C does help the immune system."
Louis Malinow, MD, an internal medicine physician in Maryland, also spoke with the website, and supported the intake of healthy food and dietary supplements to improve immunity. "A healthy diet that is maintained long-term can improve immune responsiveness and help us fight infections better and perhaps boost immune response to vaccination," he said.
And for more day-of prep advice, find out why Doctors Say Do These 2 Things the Morning of Your Vaccine Appointment.
Myers also suggests people take zinc to build up immunity prior to their COVID vaccine. According to health retailer Holland and Barrett, zinc "activates enzymes that break down proteins in viruses and bacteria so they are less able to spread." Additionally, the nutrient "increases the activation of cells responsible for fighting infection."
Findings from an Apr. 2020 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine suggest that zinc supports anti-viral immunity and decreases inflammation in the body.
The nutrient cannot be created by the human body, however, it can be taken in through beans, dairy, shellfish, and whole grains.
Myers also recommends people take omega-3, "from either concentrated fish oil or vegan sources like Ahi Flower," as an immune-boosting measure. Omega-3 can also be found in krill oil, cod liver oil, and algal oil, another vegan source from algae. The NIH says that the most important omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)—which is found in flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils—eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are found in various types of seafood.
"Omega-3s are important components of the membranes that surround each cell in your body," the NIH explains. "Omega-3s also provide calories to give your body energy and have many functions in your heart, blood vessels, lungs, immune system, and endocrine system (the network of hormone-producing glands)."
And for more news on supplements, check out This Is the One Vitamin You Should Never Take, Doctors Say.