Fuel through immunity boosters, but remember they are just add-ons – ET HealthWorld


New Delhi: India has logged 255874 COVID cases in the last 24 hours and 614 deaths, taking the death toll to 490462. Although the cases have now dropped below three lakhs after a consecutive five days of reporting a high number of daily cases, it is not wise yet to drop down our caution.

With this highly infectious strain of virus in the air, we need to make sure to get vaccinated and strengthen our immunity in order to defend ourselves against these viruses. Often people get worried and start popping supplements that promise a boost in immunity, forgetting that the body already has a built-in immunity that would work just fine by eating a balanced and nutritious diet. ETHealthworld spoke to doctors on the irrational use of immuniy boosters.

Commenting that generally Indians are lackadaisical about their health, Dr Ashit Bhagwati, Honorary Consultant In Internal Medicine and Honorary Academic Director ICU, Bhatia Hospital, said “There are free radicals in our bodies and supplements are needed to improve our immune power. We should fuel through these armaments at the same time one should remember that supplements are just an add on.”

According to ICMR guidelines we should gargle, maintain a healthy lifestyle, avoid smoking and alcohol. Dr Bhagwati also said that this is a battle between the virus and the vaccine. “Speaking as a practitioner, the virus outsmarts the human processes to conquer them. COVID is lurking to capture and devour you. The ultimate load comes on healthcare. This would be minimised if people were sensible. Hence we should build our immunity to take on the virus robustly”, he said.

Dr Manav Manchanda, Director, Respiratory Medicine Asian Institute of Medical Science (AIMS) spoke about how immunity boosters may have harmful effects on the body. Irrational use of it can affect lungs and kidneys. People take ayurvedic supplements with no ingredients specified and which have heavy metals like zinc and gold, that might have side effects in the long run.

“You should always consult your health care provider and take supplements. Excess of vitamin D might cause kidney stones, calcium deposits in the heart, vitamin B also has neurological side effects. The best time to have any supplement is after meals, preferably after lunch. But the best shot is to eat healthy, have green vegetables, eggs, and fruits”, he added.

Adding on to the conversation about the disadvantages of immunity boosters, Dr Basavaraj Kuntoji, Consultant – Internal Medicine, Manipal Hospital, says that patients with comorbidities have a deficiency in Vitamin C, B12 and Vitamin D. We should maintain good immunity by exercising, cutting down on sugar, smoking and consumption of alcohol.

“Supplements are more useful if you are deficient in those vitamins, otherwise it is not much of a help. Excessive zinc will cause loose motion, excessive Vitamin C may cause redness in the mouth, tongue.” He also added that we should only take supplements for 7-10 days and not make it a long term habit.

Dr Parinita Kaur, Consultant, Internal Medicine, Aakash Healthcare, spoke in agreement about the hype regarding immunity boosters. She was of the opinion that the most important step is to eat a balanced nutritious diet and that there should be a mix of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vegetables, fruits.

“Supplements are not required if you eat a balanced diet. People with comorbidities might require them. Zinc is advantageous in fighting disease, and vitamin C is essential in boosting immunity. Hence these supplements are provided to people who are sick as their appetite goes down and they are not able to fulfil their dietary needs through food.”

Health check ups should be done every year to assess if you’re deficient in something. There are side effects from anything that is not done in moderation. There’s liver failure, hepatitis in people taking Giloy in excess, she said.

In essence, supplements are good but in guidance and moderation, and the safest bet to upgrade your immunity is by eating a well balanced diet, exercising, getting enough sleep and maintaining COVID-appropriate behaviour.





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