PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — COVID-19 is an acute respiratory tract disease, one of many that kill 2.5 million people around the world each year. Vaccines are effective but, in the case of the novel coronavirus, aren’t available.

But using supplements that have vitamins C and D and other micronutrients are a safe and effective way to help your immune system fight these respiratory tract diseases, said Oregon State University researcher Adrian Gombart.

“The problem is that people simply aren’t eating enough of these nutrients,” Gombart said in a statement released by OSU. “Vitamin C has roles in several aspects of immunity, including the growth and function of immune cells and antibody production. Vitamin D receptors on immune cells also affect their function. This means that vitamin D profoundly influences your response to infections.”

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Gombart collaborated with researchers at the University of Southampton (United Kingdom), the University of Otago (New Zealand) and University Medical Center (The Netherlands).

Their findings were published Friday in Nutrients.

Social distancing, hand washing and vaccinations are important, Gombart said, but public health should also include a nutritional focus on the immune system.

“The present situation with COVID-19 and the number of people dying from other respiratory infections make it clear that we are not doing enough. We strongly encourage public health officials to include nutritional strategies in their arsenal.”