Nutrition for medics who are at the forefront of the fight against covid is an important condition to cope with long shifts, lack of sleep, high stress and immunity. Doctors are experiencing irregular eating, poor in nutrients and dehydration, which now in the extreme conditions of a pandemic create a much higher challenge for the body's defenses against infections. 

To help physicians maintain their immunity to the maximum in these adverse conditions, Assoc. Prof. Christina Palacios from the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Affairs and an international team of experts created a guideline with recommendations on their nutrition. writes MedicalXpress.

The recommendations are suitable for all those who have a high risk of health and an increased risk of contact with the coronavirus. The nutrition guide also includes strengthening the immune system through nutritional supplements, consistent with the grueling work schedule of medics , where the team finds evidence of deficiencies.

For optimal function of the immune system, the body needs a constant intake of certain nutrients, vitamins, minerals and bioactive compounds. These include omega-3 fatty acids, polyphenols, probiotics . Their low intake increases the risk of infections, says Assoc. Prof. Christina Palacios.

The main nutrients that increase the body's defenses are vitamin A, vitamin B3 (niacin), B9 (folate or folic acid), C and D, as well as the minerals selenium and zinc. 

Of course, the best way to provide all these substances is through nutrition, but it is impossible to maintain such a doctor, says a nutritionist. In their work, the team found that first-line doctors were deficient in vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc. They obviously need to be delivered to the body in another way - by taking supplements.

Assoc. Prof. Palacios recommends taking 2 g of vitamin C daily, and this amount is not taken at once, but divided into several doses of 500 - 1000 mg. Vitamin D should be taken in 1000 - 2000 international units daily, in two doses, during meals. The amount of zinc per day is 40 mg. 

The team did not find enough evidence of the benefits of taking other dietary supplements to strengthen immunity against respiratory infections, but recommended that a varied diet be maintained for this purpose.

The recommended foods that can reduce the most essential nutrients are:

  • Dairy products, oily fish, eggs, liver, orange fruits and vegetables, as a good source of vitamin A and beta-carotene ;
  • Chicken, fish, nuts and beans for vitamin B3 ;
  • Green vegetables, beans, nuts and fruits - vitamin B9 ;
  • Selenium fish, mussels and nuts ;
  • Fish, flaxseed and chia - for Omega-3 fatty acids.

Yogurt is the best source of probiotics. It is recommended to consume the products with BDS printing or to follow the label with the content of a trusted brand.

An ideal source of polyphenols are green tea and small fruits with rich colors such as blueberries, blackberries and grapes.

Consumed fruits and vegetables should be 400 g per day. They can be divided into 3-5 portions and include eating fruit 2 times and a large salad for example.

Assoc. Prof. Palacios advises physicians wearing protective clothing during the day to drink plenty of water - 6 liters per day to keep their body hydrated, and coffee consumption should be limited to 400 mg of caffeine per day. A cup of green or black tea contains 30-50 mg of caffeine, an espresso - 212 mg.