How to maintain your health

Tips from an expert at your local pharmacy


  • Hamilton
  • Community
April 03, 2020 Abigail Uttley

Our local pharmacies are now a part of the front-line defence in our stand against COVID-19, as they supply many useful vitamins, minerals and supplements that can be harnessed to maintain your all-important health. 

We asked a Unichem pharmacist with some 30-plus years experience in doling out advice, for some recommendations and tips on key supplements that can help improve both your lung function and immune system - two key players in combating COVID-19.  

Vitamins for healthy lung function

  • Vitamin A 
    Your entire respiratory tract has got little hairs that are designed to sweep and clear mucus away, an important action to ensure these passages stay clear and your lungs remain healthy. If you are Vitamin A deficient then these hairs stop sweeping and your cells produce at twice the rate, resulting in the accumulation of debris, mucus and “pollution,” something that can negatively affect healthy lung function. To ensure this does not occur, one Vitamin A tablet a day can make a substantial difference in improving your lung function.
  • Vitamin D:
    There is some promising research being done that vitamin D may play an important role in respiratory health through its effects on lung development and structure, respiratory muscle strength, inflammation and immune response to respiratory pathogens. Take as prescribed on the packaging. 
  • Vitamin E:
    This is another important vitamin to be aware of, in this season, as it can prevent scar tissue and boosts your immune system. One important function of vitamin E is how it helps carry more oxygen into your blood, making the lungs more elastic.

Minerals for healthy lung function

  • Magnesium: 
    This can be taken to help soothe and relax your muscles, which in turn helps decrease cramping or tightness in your chest. The positive flow-on effects of the easing of muscles, particularly in your chest, includes the all-important improved lung function.
  • Potassium:
    There is no denying that we have too much sodium in our diet. Potassium sits on a seesaw with Sodium, enabling it to balance and counter the negative impacts of a high intake of sodium. To increase our Potassium intake, we can do so either through supplements, or through our diet - eat extra dates, blackstrap molasses, dried figs, or orange kumara (with skin on). Potassium gives you more energy, by helping lower your blood pressure, and also supports healthy lung function.
  • Zinc:
    This is another important mineral for its many benefits. It is widely touted to be good for skin, hair and vision but it has also been scientifically proven to improved immune function and combat the common cold. You can get Zinc in many different forms and between 5 and 15 milligrams is a recommended dosage to fight infection. 
  • Probiotics: 
    Probiotics are live microorganisms that can be consumed through fermented foods or supplements. More and more studies show that the balance or imbalance of bacteria in your digestive system is linked to overall health and disease. Probiotics promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria and have been linked to a wide range of health benefits. Probiotics may help give your immune system a boost and inhibit the growth of harmful gut bacteria. They are best recommended to those who have just completed a course of antibiotics and those with sub-optimal immunity.

Products that might help fight infection: 

  • Vira Guard: This is a syrup that can be used to combat a virus and stop, or inhibit, its marauding progress. This syrup has the highest potency of elderberry plus olive leaf and echinacea. To understand why this syrup is effective and important, we must know that viruses have spikes that they use to rip into your cells to rob it off DNA to replicate themselves. What the elderberry does is it gums up these spikes so they bounce off the cell and can’t gain entry, thus dying off rather than replicating and invading. Elderberry becomes a useful combatant and hero to fight against virus invaders. Olive leaf and echinacea, rather than proactively stopping a virus, may act directly on the virus, inhibiting its progress. 
  • Sambucol: This is a supplement made up of elderberry, zinc and Vitamin C. This product originated from the flu pandemic in Israel in the 1990s and accordingly has an interesting and important history that can be read up on, to while away any free time you may have this week. 
  • Viral Defence: Another effective and useful supplement is Viral Defence. This has olive leaf, echinacea, garlic powder and elderberry with some Vitamin C and zinc. The aforementioned list of ingredients creates a powerful combination that your local expert herself takes once a day as a preventative in the morning. This step is partnered with a probiotic taken at the end of the day. These two easy steps provide our expert with much-needed help to effectively work on the front-line of defence. 

Why not echo these steps, or create your own effective combination from the above recommendations, to stay safe wherever you are.

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