This is part 2 in a series about my approach and protocol after getting the COVID-19 virus. The information shared in this post and in part 1 are based on my own experience with the virus and is not medical advice. Always consult with your personal care professional before starting any new supplement or protocol.
This post is about what I did and what I think are the most important and helpful interventions while recovering from COVID-19 (or really any virus).
This is about the supplements I used while I was sick, the supplements I continue to use while recovering and replenishing to restore and get back to resiliency; my take on using over the counter medications with COVID-19 (or any virus), and what I’d put up there that’s just as important (probably more) than food and supplements for healing.
I’ve already covered my food protocol while recovering from COVID-19 right here.
That post was getting a little long so I split this into two and intentionally focused on food first because food always comes first — it’s that important and impactful on health. So if you haven’t already be sure to go back and read part 1 here.
Usually, as soon as I start to feel like I’m getting sick I bring in these supplements for extra immune support.
Couple quick (and important) notes on supplements…
1) Supplements supplement
Just like the name says, supplements are meant to do exactly that: supplement.
They are supplemental to the OG way of getting nutrients… through food.
The truth is no amount of supplements can make up for a crap diet.
Supplementing with vitamins without paying mind to what you’re eating is like throwing a can of red paint into the ocean and expecting it to turn red.
It’s not gonna be enough.
In combo though, while focusing on getting better nutrition via food, supplements can be that little extra oomph that gets you over the hill and smooth sailing.
We use supplements to fill nutrient gaps in the short/near term while working on improving daily diet.
And they’re helpful tools to have on hand to throw at a virus — the quicker the better.
Rarely should supplements be used as a long-term solution. Maybe a good quality multi as an insurance policy (to take on those days or weekends when you know vegetables will be in short supply or when stress is high) and in certain cases where genetic mutations are involved and supplementation is needed to support that nutrient loss.
Here in this post though, I’m talking about near term acute supplement support to kick a virus.
2) Quality is key.
This is where I purchase almost all of the supplements I use and where I direct my clients to purchase theirs as well.
I caution against buying many supplements on Amazon because you can’t be sure what you’re getting. Case in point – a few years ago I ordered a probiotic on Amazon and when the package came the bottle was already opened.
There’s a lot of funny stuff going on out there with product tampering and counterfeit supplements, so if I do buy any on Amazon I’m careful to make sure the seller is the same as the maker of the product. If it’s not I don’t buy it.
I get most of my supplements through Fullscript. I like it because you can find higher quality supplements (brands like Pure Encapsulations, Thorne and Metagenics) at lower prices than you would in a natural pharmacy or on Amazon. I have a practitioner account with both of these companies so I get a practitioner discount part of which I pass along to you.
Click here to create an account — from there click “Favorites” to find my favorite brands and products.
Vitamin C is essential for optimal immune function and has been shown to be especially helpful in keeping white blood cells functioning well.
Vitamin C comes in many forms. The one I personally use and look for is ascorbic acid with bioflavonoids. Having bioflavinoids in there too mimics the synergistic effect you get in food that makes the vitamin C easier for the body to absorb.
Food-based supplements like camu camu or amla berry are particularly potent sources of C. I’ve used both of these in either capsule or powder form and added them to smoothies.
I cannot advise on dosing which is highly individual. As with all supplements, start low and slow and increase from there. You’ll know it’s too much if you’re having loose stools. In that case, back off the dose.
And don’t underestimate what you’re getting from foods. Good sources include strawberries, oranges, lemons, broccoli, red/orange/yellow bell peppers, kiwi, tomato, onions.
Zinc’s power is in stopping viral replication.
With zinc, taking it with food is key. I always feel nauseated if I don’t have enough food in my stomach.
Keep in mind zinc has a counter balance relationship with copper. (this is something to keep in mind with all minerals and vitamins, too — they work synergistically and increasing one can affect others). Taking too much zinc can deplete copper, which can have other effects in the body.
This is why I don’t use zinc daily — my body doesn’t seem to need it on a regular basis. I only use it when I know my body is fighting off a pathogen.
Potent food sources include grass-fed beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, chickpeas, cashews, almonds, mushrooms.
We know there is a correlation with low vitamin D levels and illness (especially severe illness) with COVID-19.
This is not unique to the COVID-19 virus only. Low vitamin D is correlated with all illness. It’s one of the reasons why “cold and flu season” is in the winter months — when most people are getting a lot less sun exposure and vitamin D levels tend to drop.
Personally, I take 2000IU of vitamin D daily to help maintain vitamin D levels. I monitor this closely with lab work, checking my levels 2-4 times per year.
When I or my kids get sick, I usually supplement with vitamin D during the duration of the illness.
Check out this post for more on what you need to know about Vitamin D.
Other Supplements I Used
This is one I already use daily to help maintain healthy inflammatory balance. I prefer using an algae based Omega 3 as opposed to fish oil to avoid mercury exposure. This is one that like and have used.
This is another supplement I use to support genetic mutations that impair my own body’s production of glutathione. If I was not already using this on-going I would have taken it during and post illness with COVID to help build my glutathione levels back up.
I talked about glutathione in part 1.
Glutathione is an endogenous (meaning our bodies have to make it) antioxidant. Think of it like, berries’ and dark chocolate’s antioxidants got nothing on this one.
Antioxidants job is to protect the body from oxidative stress and glutathione in particular is key for detoxification — it helps the body get rid of waste. As you can probably imagine, when you’re sick and your body is fighting a virus — there’s a lot of waste.
So during and post-illness glutathione is easily depleted. Supplementing in the near term can help replenish stores more quickly, while at the same time making sure you’re getting those key glutathione building blocks through diet. More on this in part 1 too.
There seems to possibly be a connection between low glutathione levels and severity of symptoms as well as possibility for long COVID.
N-Acetyl-Cystine is one of the main building blocks the body uses to make glutathione. Supplementing with it can be helpful with supporting healthy glutathione levels.
This is a supplement that I used to take regularly, and that I’ve used when I’ve known my glutathione levels were low.
Side story — when I had just a regular cold virus earlier in the year, after I’d recovered, I got a mosquito bite that spread and turned into a hives reaction. I took NAC and within 24 hours the hives went away. What had happened was the illness had depleted my glutathione levels so for this new challenge (the bug bite) I didn’t have the reserves to deal with it.
I’m experiencing a bit of that now post COVID with cedar allergies. Usually I don’t suffer with them (thank God!) but I’m having more congestion right now.
I just started taking something called D-Hist which has NAC in it along with other vitamins helpful for immune support and reducing histamine: vitamin C, quercetin, stinging nettles.
Supplements for my Kids
I keep on hand a kids multivitamin (I like Mercola’s) and probiotic (I rotate these – right now we’re using Klaire Labs Children’s Chewable). And I made a point of giving them to my girls when we sick and in quarantine.
Most days I’ll admit we forget — and that’s OK! I want them getting nutrition from food anyway.
By having them on hand though they’re there and I trust my gut in guiding me (that means thinking of giving them to them) when they really need it.
One of the hardest things while my kids had COVID-19 (really when they’ve had any virus) was getting them to drink enough fluids.
I tried everything — adding a splash of apple or orange juice, making them “lemonade” (which is really just water with lemon and honey), those effervescent tabs that make the water kinda fizzy and add electrolytes, challenging them to take a sip from their bottles every time a certain character came on TV, rewarding them with something if they finished their water bottle…
One night at dinner, one of them asked me why I was so obsessed with getting them to drink.
I told them the water is washing away the virus out of their body — just like how when it rains, it washes things away.
We ended up singing Itsy-Bitsy Spider… “down came the rain and washed the VIRUS out!”
Did it help? I’m not sure…
I think it did.
I know at least for me, and many of my clients, when you know why you’re doing something and it makes sense, it’s a lot more motivating to actually do it. (more on how to talk to your kids about supporting their immune system here.)
Rest + Remove anything stressful
When you’re stressed the body de-prioritizes non-essential functions like digestion, reproduction and immunity. Think about it: you don’t really need to fight off a virus if you’re about to get eaten by a tiger.
True, you’re probably not running from tigers, but your way-back ancestors were. And your physiology isn’t much different.
The “tigers” spiking our cortisol today are things doing two jobs at work, watching the news, scrolling Instagram. Our body responds the exact same way, except now it’s like a long steady drip of cortisol all day long.
That steady drip keeps our nervous system in sympathetic mode, where the body isn’t gonna do anything about a virus. It thinks there’s much bigger things to worry about.
The body’s gotta get into parasympathetic (aka. rest and digest) mode to heal from a virus fully.
That means you’ve gotta get rid of all those little tigers keeping your cortisol up throughout the day (more on that here).
That includes physical stressors too — like caffeine, alcohol, and exercise. Take these out of your routine until you’re back at 100 percent.
Basically, this is your permission slip to stay in bed and binge Netflix.
I emphasize quality sleep because we’re finding more and more that quality counts just as much if not more than quantity.
Quality sleep is deep sleep — that kind of sleep where you wake up and know you slept hard, you dream, and should wake up feeling well rested.
When we sleep is when the body recovers and rejuvenates. Imagine a cleaning crew coming out at night after the building’s shut down for the day.
And the quieter, calmer, it is, the deeper they can clean. And we need as much clean up as we can get when dealing with or recovering from a virus.
So, what helps you get to those deep, dark depths of sleep?
Working on something I call “sleep hygiene”.
Having good sleep hygiene is about what you’re doing in that hour or two leading up to bedtime.
I often tell my clients with kids — adults need a wind-down routine too that settles us down and gets us ready for bed.
For your kids you probably do baths, turn down the lights, read some books, say prayers….
The routine works on a physiological and unconscious level as well — it sends a signal to the body that it’s time for sleep.
Like I was saying up above about sympathetic/parasympathetic mode. We have to get out of sympathetic mode to allow cortisol (stress hormone) to drop so melatonin (sleep hormone) can rise.
Melatonin is crucial for being able to fall asleep, stay asleep and access those deeper levels of sleep.
So think about what you’re doing in that hour or two before bed time…
Are you watching a true crime series? scrolling Instagram?
Or are you reading? taking a hot bath?
See the difference?
One more note on sleep… when you go to sleep matters too. The hours between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. have been shown to be when the most healing, restoring and rejuvenating can happen.
When I was sick with COVID-19 I took Ibuprofen to alleviate the headache for a couple of days. The headache was so bad that I couldn’t fall asleep. And when I was awake noise and light was unbearable.
When things get this miserable — OCT meds are a god send.
Usually when sick I try to hold off as long as I can on using anything over the counter like Ibuprofen or Tylenol, especially if a fever is involved because, while yes they alleviate pain and discomfort, they can prolong illness too.
Uncomfortable symptoms like fever, chills, even headache aren’t from the virus itself, they’re caused by the immune system. So when you take something to stop the symptom, you’re also stopping the action of the immune system.
Like in a fever, the immune system is working to raise the body’s temperature to help kill whatever virus or bacteria it’s trying to fight off.
So if you reduce the fever, you’re hampering the immune system’s efforts and it’s going to take longer to eradicate the bug.
Now, that said, if I’m miserable, or if my child is miserable (like can’t eat, can’t sleep, in tears) then of course, I’m going to take/give them some medicine.
Again, this is when we thank god for modern medicine!
There is a trade off though — so I just always weigh that. And listen to my gut instinct with it too.
One other thing to keep in mind with Tylenol — Tylenol is processed through the liver and can leave glutathione levels depleted. This is one reason why I prefer Motrin, Advil, Ibuprofen over Tylenol — especially in cases when using as a fever reducer with a virus, or even post vaccine, when glutathione is especially essential.
Long COVID or “long haulers syndrome” where you have lingering symptoms from the virus, brain fog, fatigue, is not unique to COVID alone.
Fighting a virus is a challenge for the body — a virus, by scientific definition is a genomic challenge.
Just like running a marathon is a challenge… you’d have a very different experience if you trained your body to run 26 miles versus if you didn’t. Your body would recover from the challenge very differently too.
If you’re ready for it, a challenge like that, on the other side of it (like a hard work out), makes you stronger.
But if you’re not ready for it, it can knock you out.
This is what’s happening in long COVD. The challenge is too much.
All the things in this post and in part 1 can help with long COVID. Long COVID needs a holistic, systemic approach which, unfortunately our modern allopathic healthcare system isn’t equipped to address (more on why that is here, and here).
That doesn’t mean there aren’t answers though. This is where functional medicine and a functional health approach is so needed.
As a functional health coach I help people address the unique dynamics, imbalances and root causes in their own unique body so they can restore proper functioning and get back to feeling like themselves again.
More COVID-19 Resources
- Coronavirus Support Guide: How to Reduce Stress and Boost Your Immune System
- 10 Ways to Boost Your Natural Immunity
- Quarantine Cooking Guide: Shopping List Staples, Pantry Essentials and a Batch Cooking Plan
- The Pandemic within the Pandemic
- Microbe vs. Terrain Theory
P.S.: As a functional health coach I help people address the unique dynamics, imbalances and root causes in their own unique body so they can restore proper functioning and get back to feeling like themselves again. Book a free health chat with me here to get started.
Disclaimer: The information in this post is not medical advice. I am a health coach, not a physician or medical doctor, and the information in this post is based on my personal experience and is not in anyway a recommendation. Always check with your primary care physician before starting a new supplement.
Note: Some of the links contained in this post are affiliate links through which I have the opportunity to receive a small commission of sales. All commissions are used to help fund this blog. Thank you for your support!