Herpes, whether oral or genital HSV-1 or HSV-2, is a viral infection with no current known cure. Once you’re infected, the virus will remain in your body forever. However, herpes outbreaks can happen less frequently and with less seriousness over time. Once infected with herpes, one will always be infectious and may spread the virus to others. Nonetheless, consuming certain vitamins for herpes can reduce the severity and frequency of herpes outbreaks.
This can help you to live more comfortably. WebMD.com suggests that a diet that’s rich in antioxidants is one of the best sources of vitamins for herpes (bonus: it’s also good for overall skin health.) Below we’ll cover the vitamins that are known to or can potentially help with herpes, and details on getting enough of them.
Effective Vitamins for Herpes
Certain vitamins have been proven to help treat herpes and reduce healing times. Antioxidant vitamins include vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E, and are absorbed by eating large amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits. Antioxidants not only cure free radical damage brought about by environmental toxins and aging, they also help repair and protect the skin from infections such as herpes. Other vitamins that may help with herpes are Vitamin D and Vitamin B12.
The study surprisingly concluded that women who took birth control pills or injectable shots and still got pregnant were at a greater risk of contracting genital herpes. Women who weren’t pregnant and didn’t use birth control pills or shots were at a great risk of developing genital herpes if they had an acute deficiency of vitamin A in their bloodstream.
While this study didn’t directly link a deficiency of vitamin A with the risk of genital herpes infection, it does suggest that vitamin A helps in promoting immune system health.
The recommended daily intake of vitamin A in people over 14 years of age is 900mcg for men and 700 mcg for women. If one prefers to use vitamin A supplements rather than through the diet, the recommended daily intake for men is 6000 IU, and for women it’s 4000 IU. (Now Foods Vitamin A, 25000 IU from Fish liver oil, 250 Soft-gels)
Sources of Vitamin A: Excellent sources of vitamin A include foods such as beef liver, spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkin. Cooked carrots are perhaps the best way to get this vitamin.
Vitamin C is found naturally in a lot of vegetables and fruits and also sold over the counter as a dietary supplement like this one. According to a study published in December 2005 in ‘Alternative Medicine Reviews’ by Alan R. Gaby, a holistic medicine specialist, since the 1930s doctors have known that high vitamin C intakes can fight herpes by deactivating the herpes simplex virus. In the study, Dr Gaby recommends the intake of 10,000 mg of supplements daily to manage an active herpes outbreak and 500-3,000 mg daily to prevent future herpes outbreaks. (Vitamin C-1000 Sustained Release with Rose Hips, 250 Tablets.)
Sources of Vitamin C: For people who want to focus on foods with vitamin C, sources include juices and citrus fruits, bell peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, leafy greens, broccoli, white and sweet potatoes, papaya, cantaloupe, watermelon, mango, winter squash, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries and pineapples.
Vitamin E is found naturally in grain, vegetables and fruits. Like Vitamin C, it’s sold as a dietary supplement over the counter. Unlike vitamin C, the use of this vitamin for herpes has been centered on topical applications. People who topically apply vitamin E generally experience a reduction in herpes-related discomfort in as little as fifteen minutes, but it may sometimes take up to 8 hours. People also experience faster healing, especially when the vitamin is applied repeatedly, up to 4 times daily. (Here’s a Topical Vitamin-E Cream.)
Sources of Vitamin E: For those who prefer to eat foods with vitamin E, sources include green vegetables like spinach and broccoli, and vegetable oils derived from sunflower, safflower or wheat germ. Other food sources include flax seed oil, wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, almonds and hot peppers.
A Japanese study showed that Vitamin D is more effective — far more effective — at preventing the flu than a vaccine! The way Vitamin D works is by stimulating your immune system and rallying T cells to start fighting off infections. Unfortunately, more than half of the population is lacking in this vital nutrient.
Sources of Vitamin D: To make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D, get enough sun. If you’re getting sun in adequate conditions, it usually only takes 10-15 minutes of sun exposure per day. Alternatively, you can take a Vitamin D3 supplement. (More Information.)
Vitamin B12 is an important supplement of which many modern people are deficient. It’s helpful to make sure you are getting adequate B12 and all group B vitamins if you want to manage your herpes outbreaks, because these vitamins reduce stress that leads to outbreaks. You can get your B group vitamins by taking a “Balanced B Complex” like this one. They also have a B-Complex with Vitamin C Stress Formula. Foods high in Vitamin B12 are shellfish, skim milk, swiss cheese, and fortified cereals and soy products.
Foods and Herpes
For herpes, these foods can help reduce outbreaks and reduce healing times: red strawberries, cherries, red hot peppers, apples, tomatoes and pomegranates. Other foods include oranges, tangerines, pumpkin, carrots, yellow squashes, bananas, lemons, grapefruit, spinach, green kale, lettuce, broccoli, sea vegetables, watermelon, cucumber, brussels spouts, green tea, black berries, blueberries, and dark-skinned grapes. For more information, you can read our article about herpes and diet.
You can check your vitamin levels by going to your doctor and getting a test.