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The Science Behind Long COVID and How to Manage It

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar to you: unshakeable fatigue, persistent brain fog, shortness of breath, digestive complications, and/or lasting pain running throughout your body? If you’ve previously been infected with the COVID-causing virus SARS-CoV-2 and are experiencing any of these long-lasting conditions, you are not alone. The phenomenon resulting in these unpleasant side effects is known as long COVID, and the CDC reports that close to 20% of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 have long COVID symptoms, with women being more likely to have them than men.

Sure, there can be comfort in knowing that millions of others are also braving long COVID, but it definitely doesn’t make the symptoms any less frustrating. They often get in the way of your everyday healthy habits and can leave you feeling unlike yourself. One of the root causes of long COVID symptoms is the coronavirus’ effect on your body’s ACE2 receptors and mitochondria (more on that below!).

Thankfully, there are ways to manage long COVID. Optimizing your overall sleep, nutrition, and exercise is an excellent place to start. Still, with a better understanding of how the coronavirus affects your ACE2 receptors and mitochondria, you can directly address the issues and cater your supplementation routine to meet your exact needs in overcoming your symptoms. Bear with me because we’re about to get into the nitty gritty biology of it all! 

ACE2

ACE2’s Primary Role

Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is found in many areas throughout your body. It counters the actions of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), which plays a central role in maintaining your blood pressure. ACE acts on your hormones to signal your blood vessels to constrict. ACE2, on the other hand, does the opposite of ACE by promoting anti-inflammatory properties and nitric oxide production. This vital gas dilates your vessels so blood, oxygen, and nutrients can effectively get where they need to go. ACE2 has also been linked to protective roles in the gut microbiota and cardiovascular disease. All of that to say, ACE2 dysfunction can be a detriment to various tissues and organs throughout the body.

ACE2’s Role in Long COVID

Our cells are covered in proteins and enzymes, including ACE2 receptors, that allow entry to both helpful and harmful materials. So, when something like SARS-CoV-2 comes into contact with a cell, it binds to ACE2 receptors, fuses into your cells, and spreads its genetic material. And suppose your ACE2 receptors are now occupied with the virus. In that case, they can’t work as well to protect normal balance within your body, leading to low energy, muscle weakness, exercise intolerance, and GI dysfunction. All of this is key as to why you’re not feeling well.

Effective Supplements

The goal of supplementation is to strengthen the virus-impaired ACE2 receptors. So, here are some of my top recommendations to restore ACE2 and get you feeling like yourself again.

  • Thorne Super EPA Pro: This high concentration of EPA, an essential omega-3 fatty acid, supports the heart, blood vessels, brain, muscles, and a normal inflammatory response.
  • Quicksilver Liposomal D3K2: This balance of vitamins D and K is fast-absorbing and supports strong bones, immunity, mood, and arterial health. 
  • Thorne Curcumin Phytosome: Curcumin helps maintain a healthy inflammatory response throughout the body and relieves any muscle and joint pain you may be experiencing due to long COVID.
  • Thorne ResveraCel: ResveraCel contains a blend of ingredients that support cellular repair and benefit cellular energy production in the mitochondria.

Mitochondria

Mitochondria’s Primary Role

You probably remember from middle school science class that mitochondria are the “powerhouse of the cell.” Mitochondria have this reputation because they produce ATP, the body’s energy currency. Mitochondria are essential for numerous metabolic pathways, such as the breakdown of glucose and fatty acids. The products of these pathways can then be used up by other mechanisms within your body to keep you functioning at your best.

Mitochondria’s Role in Long COVID

When the coronavirus enters the cell via ACE2 receptors, inflammation occurs. This pro-inflammatory response negatively alters mitochondria, which causes even more issues. Damage to your mitochondrial genes disrupts homeostasis, decreases ATP energy production, and increases cell death, all of which may present as early aging, chronic fatigue, diabetes, and migraines.

Effective Supplements

Because mitochondrial damage impairs several essential pathways within the body, supplementing with other necessary metabolic coenzymes and proteins can significantly reduce long COVID symptoms. Along with the supplements mentioned previously, I also recommend these three supplements for mitochondrial repair if you’re experiencing long COVID:

  • Thorne Alpha-Lipoic Acid: Alpha-lipoic acid is a cofactor involved in mitochondrial function. It supports energy production in the cells and maintains mental sharpness.
  • MitoQ CoQ10: This unique version of Coenzyme Q10, an essential coenzyme in the mitochondrial production of ATP, acts as a potent antioxidant that gives you more energy, deeper focus, immunity support, and optimized health.

***

Continuing to live with symptoms post-COVID can be highly discouraging in achieving your health goals, but long-term COVID management and reduction are possible with the right tools. I can help you find the right tools that best suit your needs! Book a one-on-one session with me, and together we can go on a holistic journey to overcome your symptoms and help you feel like you again.

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