In an era of coexisting with the virus, the number of local COVID-19 cases continues to rise in various counties and cities. Although the virus’s lethality has decreased following mutations, it remains highly contagious. This poses a severe challenge, especially for adults and children who haven’t received the full three doses of the vaccine. Therefore, enhancing immunity and supplementing with appropriate nutrients becomes crucial.
What Is COVID-19 Coronavirus?
COVID-19, or novel coronavirus disease, began to spread globally in 2019. The causative agent is a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) belonging to the beta-coronavirus subfamily within the Coronavirinae family. It is a zoonotic infectious disease. In Taiwan, COVID-19 was categorized as a Class 5 notifiable infectious disease starting in 2020.
The primary symptoms are respiratory, including nasal congestion, runny nose, cough, fever, and other typical upper respiratory infection symptoms. In addition, more severe symptoms can occur, such as sore throat, headache, altered smell or taste, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, severe pneumonia, respiratory failure, shock, and even death.
Transmission Routes and Incubation Period
The main route of infection is through respiratory droplets landing on the eyes, mouth, or nasal mucosa or through touching surfaces contaminated with the virus and then contacting the eyes, mouth, or nasal mucosa. According to the World Health Organization, the incubation period from infection with the novel coronavirus to the onset of symptoms is 1 to 14 days, with most cases showing symptoms around days 5 to 6.
How Does Fish Oil Help Prevent COVID-19?
Fish oil offers numerous health benefits and has garnered considerable attention, particularly during the severe global pandemic. Ongoing research and clinical evidence are discussing the potential role of fish oil in assisting with COVID-19. Current studies suggest the following benefits of supplementing with fish oil in the context of COVID-19:
- Early research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids can inhibit the replication of influenza viruses, potentially leading to antiviral effects. The European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism also suggests that omega-3 supplementation may improve oxygen supply in COVID-19 patients.
- Biochemical studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids have a role in regulating viruses and intracellular signaling, offering antiviral effects against COVID-19. Animal studies have shown that continuous supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids for six weeks increases omega-3 fatty acid levels in the body, which can help reduce bacterial lung infections.
- Research in the UK found that supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids at least three times a week for a minimum of three months can reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection by 12%. This trend was also observed in the US and Swedish populations.
- A double-blind clinical trial involving 128 severe COVID-19 patients found that providing 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids (including 400 mg of EPA and 200 mg of DHA) for two weeks significantly increased one-month survival rates, along with improved respiratory and kidney function, as well as biochemical values.
- Many recovered COVID-19 patients experience long-term symptoms, including mental health issues (e.g., depression and anxiety), ongoing inflammation, sleep disturbances, and cognitive impairment. Research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids can act on phospholipid metabolism, thereby protecting or repairing brain structures. This can help alleviate oxidative stress, immune dysregulation, coagulation system abnormalities, and the societal and emotional stress caused by COVID-19.
What Are the Benefits of Fish Oil?
There are two types of fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6. Excessive intake of omega-6 fatty acids can lead to more pronounced inflammatory responses, whereas omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory functions.
|Omega-3 Fatty Acids||Type||Food Sources|
|ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)||Found in plant-based oils such as flaxseed oil and soybean oil|
|EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)||Found in marine animal and plant oils, such as fish oil and krill oil|
|DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)|
Fish oil is rich in omega-3 unsaturated fatty acids, which are the primary sources of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Fish oil has functions like immune regulation and reducing inflammatory responses. The current research has identified several major benefits of fish oil for the human body:
- Improving cardiovascular diseases and related risk factors such as hypertension and hyperlipidemia
- Assisting in infant development and neurodevelopment
- Preventing cancer, such as breast and colorectal cancers
- Reducing the risk of cognitive impairment, dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease)
- Preventing age-related macular degeneration
- Preventing dry eye syndrome and alleviating symptoms
- Serving as an adjunctive treatment for rheumatoid arthritis
- Assisting in improving symptoms of depression and more
Numerous studies on the effects of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly fish oil, in the context of COVID-19 are still ongoing. This includes research on improving immune responses and aiding in the recovery of COVID-19 patients. While the results still require validation from large-scale studies, fish oil’s numerous benefits for the human body and the finding that the omega-3 fatty acid intake of most populations falls below recommended levels make it an excellent choice for enhancing immunity during the current pandemic.