Since the outbreak of COVID-19, a number of supplements have been making headlines for their reported potential to fight the novel coronavirus. In a story on web.md.com, experts have observed that COVID-19 patients with a healthy amount of Vitamin D in their system have a greater chance of survival compared to Vitamin D-deficient patients. There are also numerous stories of doctors giving patients Vitamin C as part of their treatment of COVID-19.
Though there is no study to confirm that supplements can cure or prevent diseases such as COVID-19, they are still part of the solution to staying healthy. Exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, and getting eight hours of sleep can help strengthen your immune system, and lessen the likelihood of you catching COVID-19—or any illness, for that matter.
But how to tell which supplement will do the job? General internal medicine and IFM-certified functional medicine practitioner Rolando “Oyie” Balburias discussed this recently in the virtual conference “Revealing the Science behind Nature in Promoting Overall Well-being.” (Read: Want a happy, healthy life? Experts suggest eating the rainbow!)
The webinar was hosted by Sekaya, a brand of high-quality plant-based products under Synnovate Pharma Corporation, the natural products company of United Laboratories, Inc. (UNILAB). Sekaya products contain plant-based ingredients traditionally used for their health-promoting benefits and are backed up with scientific evidence.
Shopping for a health supplement? Here are four things to consider:
Read the label carefully.
According to Dr. Oyie, product labels should state the following: The name of the dietary supplement, its net quantity, a nutrition list, a list of ingredients, the name and place of business of the manufacturer, and the manufacture and expiration dates.
Question the claims.
Does a supplement declare itself the cure to a certain condition or disease? Will it make you slimmer/whiter/stronger/faster/feel better in a matter of days? Anything that’s too good to be true usually isn’t. (Read: How do you eat healthy while in quarantine? We asked a nutritionist-dietician!)
Ask yourself: Do I really need it?
Doctors prescribe vitamin and mineral supplements to address a specific lack or need in your health system. And while supplements are generally safe to use, more doesn’t always mean better. “It’s important to know how much your body needs,” says Dr. Oyie. Ask your family physician which vitamins or minerals you need—or if you need them at all.
Natural does not always translate to being safe.
These days, everybody’s concern is if a medication is “natural.” But what really is natural? “Look into the source of the ingredients and the process they went through,” says Dr. Oyie. “High-quality natural products that are effective consider the therapeutic benefits of the raw ingredients based on their science-backed capability to restore homeostasis and balance of the body systems. These products also go through a tedious process that consider the ingredients’ biochemical compatibility with our body’s physiologic and biologic system design.” (Read: Five Healthy Habits That Will Help Save the World We Live In)
“Supplements are just that—supplements,” says Dr. Oyie. “They can be part of your overall wellness plan, provided you use them wisely. But they cannot replace nutrient-dense, real, whole foods.”