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Can We Restore Antioxidant Protection After COVID?

One of the many debilitating aspects of COVID-19 is the long-term effects on the body’s own antioxidant actions. The cytokine storms associated with the virus ramp up reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, and inhibit our own natural production of glutathione (GSH) and nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2).

Glutathione is considered the body’s ‘master antioxidant’ and is required for healthy cell division, immune response, and overall well-being. NRF2 is generated when we exercise, and is critical for neuroplasticity, brain cell formation and maintenance, and overall positive mood. So having even two of those natural protectors compromised can be extremely detrimental.

Fortunately, adding supplemental alpha-lipoic acid (which helps the body generate glutathione), glutathione itself (in an absorbable form), resveratrol, sulforaphane, and curcumin may help change this balance.

Alpha-lipoic acid is already under consideration for helping restore lost sense of smell and taste due to its effects on nerve cells and its potential to treat diabetic neuropathy. Glutathione, in a protected form that is allowed to dissolve under the tongue and transfer directly to the bloodstream, has been shown to boost levels of the compound by 230 percent.

The authors also mention resveratrol and sulforaphane (a compound found in brassica vegetables, including Brussels sprouts, kale, and broccoli) as a potential agents for bolstering natural antioxidant action as well.

And curcumin – although not mentioned by the authors of this study -- has been shown to increase NRF2 levels that are depleted due to exercise or other stresses. In this case, a bioavailable form of curcumin that combines with turmeric essential oil may make the most noticeable difference. It has been shown to be seven times better absorbed than standard extracts.

The upside to this research is that, while it may take time to fine-tune dosage levels and exact nutrients, we may be able to recover the balance of our own antioxidant protection lost to Covid-19 infection.


Kiełbowski K, Herian M, Pawlik A. How to Restore Oxidative Balance That Was Disrupted by SARS-CoV-2 Infection. Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Jun 7;23(12):6377. doi: 10.3390/ijms23126377. PMID: 35742820; PMCID: PMC9223498.

Coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19) is caused by different variants of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) which emerged in December of 2019. COVID-19 pathogenesis is complex and involves a dysregulated renin angiotensin system. Severe courses of the disease are associated with a dysregulated immunological response known as cytokine storm. Many scientists have demonstrated that SARS-CoV-2 impacts oxidative homeostasis and stimulates the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). In addition, the virus inhibits glutathione (GSH) and nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2)-a major antioxidant which induces expression of protective proteins and prevents ROS damage. Furthermore, the virus stimulates NOD-, LRR- and pyrin domain-containing protein 3 (NLRP3) inflammasomes which play a significant role in inducing a cytokine storm. A variety of agents with antioxidant properties have shown beneficial effects in experimental and clinical studies of COVID-19. This review aims to present mechanisms of oxidative stress induced by SARS-CoV-2 and to discuss whether antioxidative drugs can counteract detrimental outcomes of a cytokine storm.

Here is the link to the complete article: How to Restore Oxidative Balance That Was Disrupted by SARS-CoV-2 Infection

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Terry is happy to provide his opinion on diet and nutrition, supplements and lifestyle choices. This information is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the advice of your physician and is not to be considered medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Should you have any concerns please contact your physician directly.
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