Good morning, everyone.
Yesterday, after sharing with you my ideal keto/low-carb/moderate-carb compatible shopping list for surviving a health crisis such as we are experiencing right now, and in general any crisis related to survival, I now wanted to share with you the best food supplements to keep on hand in case of containment, and precisely in the case of an epidemic, where the objective will be to stimulate your immune system as much as possible on the one hand, and to remain in good general health on the other hand, in spite of reduced social and physical activity, and in spite of an environment conducive to stress.
So obviously, these supplements are neither a medicine nor an antidote, and can in no way protect you from anything or replace any medicine, it is obvious. Nevertheless, a vitamin and mineral supplement can only be beneficial, at least as a preventive measure. But to do this, it is necessary to make good choices, and especially not to rush on multi-vitamins full of useless, badly dosed, and sometimes counter-productive things.
In making this list, I have based myself entirely on the scientific literature, in order to highlight the supplements most likely to give you the best chance of success. Some pessimists will say that there is no food or molecule capable of "hacking" the body to make it more efficient and resistant. However, the statistical reality is there: certain populations with varying degrees of exposure to the sun, and with very specific lifestyles and diets, have much more encouraging health data than other populations.
In addition, there have been a number of scientific studies that have looked at certain molecules, hormones and nutrients that may have very good results on certain diseases, including some influenza.
So I've done my usual summing up, and I've come up with the ultimate list of supplements to take when our bodies are particularly exposed to diseases such as the flu. Feel free to bounce back with comments if you want to add your suggestions!
1- Vitamin D
Whether or not one chooses a diet low in carbohydrates and high in fat, the vitamin D is one of the most IMPORTANT vitamins, all the more so in the case of a crisis such as that of the coronavirus.
And for good reason, when we are confined to our homes, without exposure to the sun's UV rays, and our immune system is in the grip of a viral epidemic, if there is one supplement to be preferred that can reduce fatigue and strengthen our defences, it is indeed the vitamin D. Especially at the end of winter, when, in the countries of the North, we are particularly deficient in vitamin D.
Concerning the specific case of the immune system, although things are not always that simple, and although the body is a very complex machine, there is a consensus that the T lymphocytes, responsible for killing bacteria and viruses, must first find circulating vitamin D, fix it on a receptor in order to start their defence process. This applies to influenza, ENT infections, tuberculosis and wounds and other scars that need to be treated.
In fact, the scientific literature reports that vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of viral infections. However, in France, 80% of people today lack vitamin D, and this figure can go up to 91% in winter!
Of course, there are no studies on the influence of vitamin D on Covid-19. However, studies on all other viruses that cause respiratory infections, including coronaviruses, can be found in the scientific archives. Here's what it says:
- In this Swedish study, a 36% reduction in the risk of respiratory infections was observed with daily vitamin D supplementation.
- In another study, this time in the UK, the aim of which was to assess the overall effect of vitamin D supplementation on the risk of acute respiratory tract infection, the result is clear: vitamin D supplementation is safe and protects against acute respiratory tract infection overall. In the same British newspaper, there is another study indicating that vitamin D supplementation reduced the risk of death from cancer by 16%.
Other studies come to similar conclusions. But Vitamin D seems to have other virtues that currently concern us, particularly in terms of the release of inflammatory cytokines, the very ones that cause deaths. Moreover, in the case of COVID-19, many deaths are due to what is known as the "cytokine storm". Numerous studies have shown that a lack of vitamin D can be a risk factor for excessive inflammation, especially in the lungs.
There is therefore reason to believe that a vitamin D deficiency is not favourable in the face of a respiratory infection, and when the immune system is put to the test.
In the diet, you will find vitamin D in the key ingredients of low-carbohydrate foods, including cod liver oil, fatty fish (salmon, herring, anchovies), egg yolk, etc. The problem is that only sufficient exposure to the sun, or supplementation, will cover your vitamin D needs in winter.
As we saw in the chapter on Vitamin D, the official recommendations estimate daily requirements of vitamin D at 800 I.U. a day. Nevertheless, the new wave of nutrition advocates go far beyond these recommendations. For example, vitamin D experts John Cannell and Bruce Hollis estimate that levels between 55 and 70 ng/mL should be maintained at all times.
On this basis, a formula was developed, considering that approximately 75 IU per kg of body weight would be required, that is :
75 IU * body weight = recommended vitamin D dosage
In other words, a healthy adult weighing about 75 kg should therefore supplement with vitamin D in winter at 75 * 75 = about 5,625 IU per day.
The simplest way to adapt its consumption of vitamin Dis to supplement yourself with some vitamin D in drops, so that the correct dosage can be made. Otherwise, it will suffice to opt for a product in capsules dosed approximately according to your needs: here, 2 to 3 tablets per day in the morning will be enough to meet the needs of an adult weighing between 65 and 80 kg.
As a reminder, the vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be stored by the body for release. Once the crisis period is over, or simply after the winter season, there is no need to supplement more if you expose yourself to the sun on a relatively regular basis, without abusing it of course.
For my part, for this exceptional event where I hardly see the sun and following a winter where I was absolutely not exposed to the sun's rays, I opted for vitamin D from Solgar, dosed at no less than... 10,000 I.U., which I take about once every 1 or 2 days!
2- Omega-3 fatty acids
As we saw in the chapter dedicated to the ideal distribution between omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9we are deficient in omega-3 in the modern western diet.
According to the ANSES (National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety), the proportion of omega-3 / omega-6 in the French diet is around 1/20 in favour of omega-6. This can go up to 1/30 according to certain studies. However, The ideal ratio should be around 1/4, according to several studies..
And for good reason, intakes that are too high in omega-6 (found notably in sunflower oil, eggs, meat, cereals, milk and cheese) and too low in omega-3 (found in small fatty fish, certain seafood and nuts, and leafy green vegetables) would be detrimental to general health, and could lead to increased inflammation, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, to name but a few.
However, in the case that interests us today, namely respiratory complications, according to several studies, omega-3s play a role in reducing the excessive release of inflammatory cytokines. In other words, these fatty acids would make it possible to reduce the excessive inflammation typical of COVID-19 infection, which is responsible for respiratory and pulmonary complications.
So, to sum up, omega-3s have a number of virtues, including, in this case, the following:
- A decrease in the inflammatory response for chronic pathologies (polyarthritis, sinusitis...).
- Involvement in the protection of the immune system, particularly in the development of asthma.
Whether for bacterial or viral infections, omega-3s are hyper-important. This is why it is necessary to consume foods rich in omega-3, to the detriment of omega-6, whose intake is objectively too important in Western society.
And because things are done right, omega-3s are found in... the flagship foods of the low-carb diet:
- Fatty fish: mackerel, salmon, sardine, herring.
- Olive and rapeseed oils.
- Linseed oil.
- Flax, chia or hemp seeds.
- Organic eggs (blue-white-heart label if possible, Lustucru brand).
- Green leafy vegetables.
As we saw in the chapter dedicated to omega-3s, these must be provided by food because the body is incapable of synthesising them on its own, and a deficiency is harmful to health.
According to official recommendations, between 0.5 and 1g of omega-3 per day should be consumed, and they should constitute between 1.3 and 1.9% of caloric intake. However, some scientists from the new school of nutrition recommend consuming 1 to 3 grams of omega-3 of marine origin per day, especially for occasional sportsmen and women or people who want to strengthen their body in the face of a health problem.
For my part, I generally opt for the omega-3s from Solgar, but also those from Nutrimea. Solgar Omega-3 provides 2.4g with two capsules, which is within the recommended range for optimal health. Finally, the best omega-3s on the market seem to be those from UNAE, for objective reasons related to the quality of the product, but I have not yet had the opportunity to try them.
3- Magnesium Bisglycinate
As a reminder, the magnesium participates in the proper functioning of the nervous system, reduces cortisol, regulates water balance, improves energy metabolism, and has anti-inflammatory properties. It is an absolutely central electrolyte for the body.
Like omega-3 and vitamin D, most people are deficient in magnesium for a host of reasons already mentioned in the chapter on this mineral salt.
Some doctors, nutritionists and health experts supplement themselves personally with magnesium. For an adult weighing around 80 kg, the requirements are therefore around 480 mg per day, and Practitioners of low-carbohydrate diets recommend supplementing themselves with up to 400mg of magnesium per day, in addition to what is provided by the diet.
And speaking of food, just like the other supplements mentioned here, magnesium is also found mostly in the low-carbohydrate foods I usually recommend on Blooness: 100% dark chocolate, mackerel, chia seeds, cooked spinach, avocado, Brazil nuts, cabbage, arugula, green vegetables...
Concerning magnesium supplementation, I personally opted for Solgar Magnesium Bisglycinate, 100mg per tablet. Athletes who have made a big energy expenditure over a day generally take between 3 and 5, preferably in the evening because magnesium relaxes, in order to improve muscular and nervous recovery.
But in containment / survival mode and therefore with little energy expenditure, 2 to 4 tablets in the evening should be enough, especially if you have filled up with green vegetables, as I recommended in the list of foods to be stored in times of crisis.
Attention, I expressly recommend the Magnesium Bisglycinate form, which is characterized by a very good bioavailability.
4- Selenium and Zinc
It seems that the combination of selenium and zinc can strengthen the immune system.
In very short, zinc is involved in the production of prostaglandins, which has an anti-inflammatory role, it stabilizes a number of hormones (thymulin, which is essential for growth, and insulin), and it has a significant immune action.
Selenium, for its part, is also an essential trace element since it participates in the body's defence against free radicals by protecting cell membranes. Furthermore, it plays a major hormonal role in the regulation of thyroid hormones and spermatogenesis. In addition, it helps to fight inflammation and even certain viral infections, notably by stimulating immunity.
But be careful not to abuse this supplementation.
For my part, I chose the product from Pharma Nord, which also contains vitamin C, which is always good to take, even if its influence on health is relative, given its reputation.
These supplements may not be suitable for everyone, and some people may find something wrong with them. But in general, a combination of magnesium, vitamin D, zinc, selenium and vitamin C should not harm your body, provided that in your state of health, there is obviously nothing wrong with this supplementation. Finally, omega-3s, which are sorely lacking, are highly recommended.
Other supplements such as collagen or protein powder can help, but I don't recommend them without the practice of an energy-hungry sport. In times of confinement, unless you have a gym at home, there's no point in overloading the body with all that.
Finally, during a period of confinement, I recommend that you drink plenty of water first.
In addition, in case you have opted for a low or moderate carbohydrate diet, with healthy, unprocessed foods, I also suggest that you consume more salt than usual (Himalayan salt if possible) in order not to be deficient in sodium, for the reasons mentioned in the chapter on the importance of sodium in the low-carb diet. I also advise you to do physical exercise at home, both for your figure and for your mental health, and to relax. Magnesium will help you to achieve the latter.
I hope I have enlightened you and I wish you all a good confinement, take care of your loved ones, of yourself and especially of your health!