If you want to do something for your immune system, you can buy extra vitamins from pharmacies, drugstores or the Internet. Better safe than sorry, especially in the Corona crisis. But exactly that, namely “safe”, is not the way for more immune power, the Bonn-based immunobiologist Prof. Ingrid Förster, expert for immune system and environment, emphasized in the EXPRESS interview.
Vitamin D in particular is slightly overdosed and, in addition to being healthy, is even harmful to health. The claim is circulating on the net: A vitamin D deficiency makes people more susceptible to the new type of corona virus, and the spread of corona can therefore be combated with the administration of vitamin D. The Bonn expert expressly warns against this idea.
“The fat-soluble molecule, which is related to cholesterol, can penetrate cells and change gene functions,” explains the scientist. This property makes it a double-edged sword. “It can both boost and suppress the immune response.”
Vitamin D vs. Corona? Only 20 percent come from food
Only 20 percent of vitamin D comes from food at all, and 80 percent is produced by the body due to the fact that UV radiation affects the skin. In exactly the right ratio for a healthy immune system. It is sufficient to expose the face, hands and arms uncovered two to three times a week to half the minimum sun-effective UV dose, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfA) recommends.
For people with skin type II (fair-skinned, not overly sensitive to the sun) this would result in 12 minutes. In summer, vitamin D is stored in fat and muscles for the low-light season.
Biologist: “You have to warn the public not to take vitamin D in an uncontrolled manner”
“In this respect, it is good if we all now move outside in the fresh air when the sun is shining,” says immunobiologist Förster. “But you should warn the public against taking vitamin D in an uncontrolled manner.”
She emphasizes: “Dietary supplements are not subject to any restrictions, and fat-soluble vitamins in particular can do a lot of damage. I would not take them without medical supervision. “
Incorrect dosage of vitamin D can lead to kidney damage
A doctor must first definitely determine that there is actually a vitamin D deficiency. The tablets required to specifically compensate for this rare deficiency are prescription-only in high doses and can, for example, cause kidney damage if used improperly. Also fat-soluble vitamin A, which is often packaged as “good for the eyesight” in vitamin mixes, can have positive and negative effects on the defense against infections. Overdosing on vitamin A can damage the skin and liver.
Read more here: Covid-19 – Is the Corona Virus Particularly Dangerous for Smokers?
Vitamin C is somewhat less problematic. Again, the immune researcher warns against claims circulating on the net that vitamin C can help cure corona based on experience in China. “How exactly vitamin C affects the immune system has not yet been clarified,” says Förster.
In contrast to vitamin D, vitamin C is water-soluble
The University of Bonn is one of the top research centers specializing in immunology and nutrition. “What we do know is that vitamin C inhibits the release of reactive oxygen molecules. But: This is more desirable for infections because it is an antibacterial mechanism. ”
Advantage of vitamin C: Unlike vitamin D, it is water-soluble. What the body does not use is eliminated. But vitamin C has a certain acidity, says Förster. In the worst case, lozenges can damage the tooth enamel.
“Vitamins are good and strengthen the immune system if they are ingested with food, they do not have such a good effect in tablets,” Förster said. “Vegetables with a particularly large number of secondary plant and fiber materials, less sugar and even higher quality than fruit.”
Biologist on Corona: High-dose vitamins do not “kill” the virus
She and her team are currently investigating receptors in the intestine that bind plant substances and protect the intestinal mucosa, using broccoli and Brussels sprouts as examples. She believes that high-dose vitamins “kill” a virus, but healthy nutrition with fresh products is guaranteed to be good for the immune system. “You can never eat too much of individual vitamins or minerals.”
This natural supply is an important building block for a strong, successful immune response, “which first triggers a defense reaction, then reduces itself.”
Remedy for Covid-19: Immediate quit smoking
The natural protective shield specifically against all kinds of respiratory infections, including Covid-19, is the best way to strengthen a stop smoking. “The best time to quit smoking is now,” advises the expert on the immune system and environmental substances. “Because cigarette smoke damages the lung tissue and makes us significantly more susceptible to respiratory infections.”
Unfortunately, the other tips from the immunologists at the University of Bonn cannot be bought or swallowed either:
- Move: If we don’t move, the immune system tends to overheat unhealthily.
- Avoid stress: Take a deep breath in the fresh air – this also helps against this immune power robber. Chronic stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness have been shown to weaken the immune system. While short-term, acute stress drives the immune system to produce more immune cells. Which – for a short time – also has a positive effect on otherwise healthy people.
- Regular, adequate sleep: “The immune system recovers at night,” says Prof. Förster. “New immune cells build up during sleep.” This curve can even be measured over a 24-hour period. If you constantly treat yourself to less than six hours of sleep, the immune system also lacks regeneration: fewer new immune cells are produced.