The current COVID-19 pandemic has us all in unchartered territory and you may be starting to take steps to strengthen your immune system. Carolyn has some advice for how to support your immune system with straight forward tips and from reducing your exposure to which vitamins to take.

Originally published here, this article has been republished with permission.

In light of recent developments, I feel it is essential to focus on supporting your immune system to help protect you against viral infection.

Please note, these strategies are not a substitute for medical care.

If you do develop symptoms associated with COVID-19, including fever, cough or shortness of breath, seek immediate medical advice. You may be advised to isolate yourself from the general population to stop viral spread.

If you have recently travelled to an international high-risk area or have recently been in contact with a confirmed case, contact a medical professional for assistance.

Call ahead before going to any doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.

Reduce your exposure

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. Make sure to get between fingers and under nails.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Practice “social distancing”, in other words, avoid shaking hands, hugging etc.
  • Avoid crowded areas, especially where airflow may be limited or recycled.

Support your immune system

Get Enough Sleep

Adequate sleep is crucial for immunity. Antibodies are mainly formed during sleep. Not getting enough sleep also causes inflammation.

Aim for at least 8 hours sleep every night.

Manage Stress

Chronic stress impacts immune function, and results in high cortisol, which causes inflammation. Take the anxiety you are channelling into the unknown of COVID-19 and turn it into better implementation of diet and lifestyle choices. Use this as a motivator to make a change.

  • Reduce your stressor load if possible
    • Reduce commitments where possible
    • Minimise your exposure to
      • chemical stressors (like alcohol and tobacco),
      • environmental stressors (like extreme temperatures) and
      • sensory stressors (like crowded places).
  • Ways to decrease stress include:
    • time in nature,
    • exercise (light or moderate only – see below),
    • laughing,
    • cuddling a pet,
    • hugging a loved one,
    • making time for hobbies,
    • mindfulness and meditation (try apps like Yoga Nidra, Insight Timer, Simple Habit).
  • There’s also a link between sleep and stress. Getting enough sleep helps regulate the stress response and managing stress helps improve sleep quality. So, it’s always helpful to work on improving sleep and stress levels at the same time.

Do light/moderate exercise

Regular exercise promotes improved immune system function and regulates cortisol release.

  • Aim for a 30-minute walk 5 times per week. 
  • Yoga and swimming are also great option.
  • Avoid high-intensity workouts as your immune system may be temporarily suppressed after strenuous exercise.

Important nutrients

Vitamin A

Maintains the integrity of our mucous membranes (such as the lining of your respiratory tract and gastrointestinal tract), so it is essential for keeping our first line of defence physically intact.

Foods rich in vitamin A include fish, shellfish, and less commonly eaten foods such as liver and other organ meats (only buy organic).

Vitamin C

The most well-known immune support and antioxidant vitamin.

Foods rich in vitamin C include fruit and vegetables, in particular citrus fruits, capsicum, chilli and berries.

Vitamin D

Immune modulator (balancer).

Ways to increase your Vitamin D levels include sun exposure (be sun smart), supplementation (only if required after testing) and certain foods, such as fish, shellfish and pastured meats.

Vitamin E

Maintains proper immune function.

Foods rich in vitamin E include avocados, olives, nuts and seeds.


Essential in maintaining immune system function, because it is needed for both development and function of immune cells.

Foods rich in zinc include nuts (almonds, cashews), seeds (pepitas), meat (beef, dark meat chicken), seafood (oysters) and eggs.


Strain specific probiotics, with proven human health benefits, are useful to boost and regulate immunity. These include Lactobacillus plantarum (HEAL9), Lactobacillus paracasei (8700:2) and Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG®).

Further resources

For further resources and guidelines on COVID-19 Management, visit:

Australian Government Department of Health: COVID-19,

World Health Organisation Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak,

Centre for Disease Control and Prevention: Corona Disease 2019 (COVID-19),