By Dr. Min

It’s March 30th, 2020. Six months ago, I would have never guessed that I would be writing this under the current global coronavirus crisis. It’s a frightening time for many of us because of the obscure virus making its way through headlines and our homes. At this point, the contagious virus is imminent, but there are precautions we can take to lower our chances of getting sick. If you haven’t made it a habit to keep up a healthy lifestyle, there’s no better incentive to start than right now. The human body is strong and resilient – we have external protective barriers as well as internal systems from keeping foreign viruses out and unwanted germs at bay. At times like this, it’s never been more important to keep our body healthy inside and out.

As a practicing pharmacist, I spend 12 plus hours a day around patients, most of whom are sick.  I’ve built up quite an immune system from my line of work but most importantly I’ve made it a habit to keep myself protected with healthful choices. Here’s my advice to you and what supplements I believe are essential during COVID-19. Aside from the obvious (maintaining a balanced diet, quality sleep, staying active, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, and smoking), below are some essential immune-boosting supplements (along with CBD – despite the immune response debate.)

Vitamin C:

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble nutrient found in food that acts as an antioxidant in the body. Antioxidants help to prevent the growth of free radicals, or problematic molecules that damage cells. Vitamin C is essential for maintaining bone density, muscle formation, and blood vessel/tissue growth. It also keeps your immune system healthy by signaling to create White Blood Cells (WBC), which is responsible for fighting off infections and foreign pathogens. You can get your daily dose of Vitamin C through supplements or foods naturally high in Vitamin C such as citrus fruits and vegetables.

More suggestive studies here.

Vitamin D / Calcium:

Vitamin D, ergocalciferol, is a fat-soluble nutrient. (Side note: a tip on how I memorized fat-soluble vitamins in pharmacy school is acronym ADEK. ADEK is all the fat-soluble vitamins). Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed similar to dietary fats. Ideally, it’s better to take them with higher-fat foods for better absorption. Unlike water-soluble vitamins (i.e. Vitamin C), excess Vitamin D is stored in your adipose tissues (or fat cells) and liver when not used. Excess Vitamin C, if not initially absorbed through your small intestines, is excreted via urine. The main function of Vitamin D is to help absorb Ca (Calcium) in your body. Ca is the main building block for healthy bones. I always encourage my patients to get D+Ca in one single supplement for this very reason. D+Ca work synergistically to help mineralize the bones so they are heathy and strong. I encourage patients to take a daily D+Ca supplement given that we live in NY where we lack sun for more than half the year.

More suggestive studies here.


Zinc is a mineral found in the body that helps enzymes work properly to carry out biological processes. Zinc helps maintain a healthy immune system, helps maintain the senses of taste and smell, and is needed for making DNA and normal growth and development for children and adolescence. Some studies have found that zinc lozenges may shorten the duration of colds by about a day and also reduce the number of upper respiratory infections in children. A counseling point for when taking zinc supplements is it commonly causes nausea. If you already have enough zinc from your diet, it’s not clear that taking a supplement can help. You can get your daily dose of Zinc through supplements or naturally through foods like oysters, red meat, pouotry, beans, nuts, some seafood, whole grains, and dairy products.

More suggestive studies here.

B Complex:

B complex includes eight B Vitamins (they are water soluble, not included in the acronym ADEK). B Vitamins include: Folic Acid (b1), Riboflavin (b2), Niacin (b3), Pantothenic Acid (b5), Pyridoxine (b6), Biotin (b7), Folate (b9), and Cobalamin (b12). B vitamins have a laundry list of benefits from fighting off infections to promoting cell growth and most popularly supporting energy levels. Vitamin B6 in particular is important in supporting biochemical reactions in the immune system. You can find a list of B Vitamins and their functionalities here. You can get your daily dose of Vitamin B through supplements or naturally through foods such as whole grains, red meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, leafy vegetables, beans, seeds and nuts.

More suggestive studies here.


Glutathione is a key detox agent our body produces. Without glutathione, we have a hard time ridding our body of toxins. It’s made of 3 types of molecules known as AAs, or amino acids: cysteine, glycine, and glutamic acid (or glutamate). Glutathione has many key roles in your health and well-being. It’s widely known for antioxidant protection, detoxification, and energy production. Further functions of glutathione include, but not limited to:

  • breaking down free radicals
  • supporting immune function
  • regenerating Vitamins C, E, and CoQ10
  • making DNA (the building blocks of proteins and cells)
  • helping the liver deal with fats
  • assisting regular cell death, or apoptosis.

Foods naturally rich in glutathione are pretty much anything green, such as asparagus, cabbage, spinach, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, avocados, and broccoli.

More suggestive studies here.

Other Supplements:

The following supplements are being used for medicinal purposes to potentially help fight off the common cold, defend against germs, and stimulate the immune system.

  • Alpha Lipoic Acid
  • Ashwagandha
  • Astragalus
  • Curcumin
  • Echinacea
  • Elderberry
  • Fish Oil
  • Garlic
  • Milk Thistle
  • NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine)
  • Oscillococcinum
  • Propolis
  • Selenium

Although these supplements may offer small benefits for immune health, they should not be used as a replacement for a healthy lifestyle. Please consult with your doctor or a medical professional if you’re looking to add any of these listed into your medication history. Feel free to contact me personally at for a med reconciliation.


I would be remiss to not mention anything on CBD. While several laboratory studies suggest that cannabinoid compounds [specifically cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)]  are immunosuppressants, there’s still so much that we don’t know and can’t confirm this to be 100% true. There are studies that suggest CBD may act as an immuno-modulator as well. What we do know is that CBD is our bodies balancing act. It may help those with a hyper-immune drive (i.e. autoimmune) by suppressing the immune system, all the while keeping it healthy at the same time by acting as an immuno-modulator. This makes it a good option to add as part of your daily ritual to keep your immune system functioning. If you are curious on CBD’s potential on your immune system, you can read more here.

We are here to work with our community and provide as much support as possible. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email us at Our thoughts and prayers go out to each of you who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Please stay safe by staying home. Now is a great time to start implementing healthier lifestyle changes. We are hopeful there will soon be an end to this madness and brighter days ahead. Most importantly, we hope all of us come out of this more grateful and on a path to better health.

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