Supplements and COVID-19

Many of you already take supplements to help support your overall health. During this time of widespread SARS-Corona Virus-2 (COVID-19), many are reaching for supplements to help them combat symptoms or to keep themselves safe. The usual supplements that we might reach for may not necessarily be the best ones to take during this outbreak as they may interact with the immune system in a manner that could actually put you at risk or not be as supportive for your healthcare with respect to this particular conference. Let’s go through a few of the basics about this particular coronavirus.

The following information is an abbreviated form from Chris Masterjohn, PhD ( He is a well-informed individual who is obsessive about thoroughly researching each topic. The full article along with updates is available on his website*.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. The coronavirues have a fatty layer (lipid bilayer) that coats the virus which helps protect the virus from our own immune system. This fatty layer, also leaves the virus vulnerable to detergents/soaps and some supplements that can breakdown this covering. Some strains cause the common cold. The current strain is very similar to the virus outbreak that occurred in 2003 that caused SARS thus the name SARS coronavirus 2. This strain attacks a substance in the body, ACE2 (angiotensin converting enzyme 2) which helps control blood pressure and has functions in the heart and lungs as well.

Here are some recommendations that might be helpful or have some scientific evidence of anti-viral support and a few that might be surprising to you (they were for me).

  • Elderberry – this supplement stops the attachment of the virus to the ACE2 and can help destroy the lipid layer of the virus
  • Zinc – this supplement will stop the virus from replicating
  • Copper – overall toxic to the virus

These supplements can also be supportive during the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • Garlic (or it’s active constituent Allicin) – this hasn’t been tested against any form of the coronaviruses but it is supportive in other viruses and it is thought to destroy the lipid layer
  • Echinacea – this is another supplement that hasn’t been tested against coronaviruses but it is supportive of the immune system overall.
  • N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) – This supplement helps to raise your own metabolism defenses, specifically glutathione, which can help the lungs during an infection but isn’t thought of as a preventative supplement.

Supplements that should be limited or avoided: The supplements listed below should be used in limited amounts. Vitamins A, D and C are all supportive to the immune system but with the novel SARS-Coronavirus-2 these might not be correct to use in this virus.

  • Vitamin A – Can increase ACE2 at high doses (beyond the amount that is found foods)
  • Vitamin D – Can increase ACE2
  • Vitamin C – can either increase or decrease interferon (interferon-β when upregulated/increased has antiviral properties). The current literature on vitamin C is mixed with respect to coronaviruses.

Keep in mind during the normal cold/flu season the above supplements can be quite supportive and has research supporting their effectiveness. We are dealing with a novel virus and some of the standby supportive supplements may not be appropriate.

This is not intended as medical advice. If you are sick, please seek appropriate healthcare.

* I have no financial ties associated with Chris Masterjohn or his website.