Whenever I fall ill, I find myself turning to time-tested remedies for quick immunity support. Headache? Acupressure. Sore throat? Kadha for me, please. That being said, the COVID-19 pandemic has made me seriously rethink my approach to health. Earlier, I would have dealt with vitamin deficiencies by loading up on nutrient-rich foods, but having limited access to fruits and vegetables makes this difficult. “If you’re missing out on important food groups [like proteins] your immunity will be weakened. Plus, long work hours and even intense workouts can put undue stress on your body,” says Sumaya Dalmia, Delhi-based fitness expert and nutritionist. “Your immune system is the first line of defence against any microbes entering your body. The stronger it is, the lesser are the chances of you falling ill,” explains Nihaal Mariwala, the founder of Setu, a natural nutritional supplements brand.
As someone who depends on at-home remedies a lot, I was lost. Which supplements do I need to take? And, when? To resolve my doubts, I reached out to experts to find out what I could do to give my body a helping hand:
What are immunity-enhancing supplements?
“It’s a form of preventative healthcare that strengthens our in-built response to resist infections,” says Bhavna Sharma of Cureveda, a homegrown supplements brand. These vitamin-rich pills and powders, when paired with healthy living habits, can go a long way in fighting diseases and infections. In other words, they won’t replace the benefits of eating your greens or sleeping on time, but will enhance the absorption of nutrients from the food you consume. “They bridge the nutritional gap by giving your body the essential nutrients it needs every single day,” explains Roma Patel, the mastermind behind Tejari and Co, a USA-based au naturel protein powder company.
What do I need to know before taking these?
Just like skincare, there’s no one size fits all when it comes to supplements, so it’s best to consult your doctor. “There are many factors that need to be considered, for example: Are you generally active, or do you find yourself sedentary most days? Do you live somewhere that experiences harsh winters or heatwaves?” says Patel. Sharma adds, “The dosage varies based on your specific needs and age as well.” “It is imperative to take supplements that are formulated well, non-synthetic, non-GMO, and chemical-free,” says Mariwala. “Look for brands that offer complete transparency in terms of ingredients,” adds Patel.
What’s a good place to start?
“A good balance of vitamins is essential for fighting infections”, says Dalmia and she recommends pairing multivitamins (that has zinc, magnesium, vitamin D3 and C) with a nourishing diet. Avnish Chhabria, the founder of Wellbeing Nutrition, a superfood nutrition company swears by the antimicrobial powers of organic apple cider vinegar (with ‘mother’) and his trusty Daily Greens multivitamin and Grandmother’s Kadha (a blend of 13 adaptogenic herbs all packed in a fizzy tablet). Sharma recommends going for herbal remedies, like vitamin C-rich chyawanprash and herbs like turmeric, giloy, spirulina, moringa and triphala that are packed with antioxidants. “If you’re stuck indoors, vitamin D should be your go-to,” says Patel. It regulates your immune system and blood pressure and helps your body to absorb calcium from the food you eat. “Vitamin C is great to strengthen the immune system.”
When should we take them?
To maximize the benefits of vitamins, pair them right and have them at the correct time. Chyawanprash can be consumed in the morning on an empty stomach and should be washed down with milk to prevent acidity. Research has shown that vitamin C tablets can be taken at any point in the day, whereas vitamin D, being a fat-soluble formulation should be taken alongside food.
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