In the early days of the pandemic, various supplements were purported to decrease the severity—and or prevent the contraction of—COVID-19. Some of these claims were later debunked by medical professionals.
A portion of the ones that were reaffirmed could be seen here and there via listicles and academic journals but never codified.
Adding to a recent analysis that concluded sufficient amounts of Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc, and Quercetin could significantly improve one’s chances of beating COVID 19, the authors of the new report write the following:
“We looked for any correlations between taking supplements and reporting testing positive for COVID-19 using a PCR or serology test or having symptoms predictive of COVID.”
“We found that multivitamins, vitamin D, omega-3, and probiotic supplements all had a small protective effect against testing positive for the virus. By contrast, we saw no protective effect at all for the other supplements we looked at like vitamin C, garlic, and zinc.”
Interestingly enough, multivitamins, vitamin D, omega 3, and probiotic supplements appeared to yield advantageous effects for women with respect to transmission risk, but the researchers did not observe the same consistent protective effect in male patient samples.
“We observed a modest but significant association between use of probiotics, omega-3 fatty acid, multivitamin or vitamin D supplements and lower risk of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 in women. No clear benefits for men were observed nor any effect of vitamin C, garlic or zinc for men or women,” the authors continued. ” Randomised controlled trials of selected supplements would be required to confirm these observational findings before any therapeutic recommendations can be made.”
This isn’t entirely shocking.
You might recall that men were found to be disproportionately affected by critical coronavirus symptoms compared to women as early as January by public health officials. The reasoning was shared between behavioral and biological factors.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12% of women smoke cigarettes while 16% of men currently do and smokers are more at risk for developing COVID-19 induced acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Men additionally account for the majority of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes statistics. Each condition is associated with severe manifestations of coronavirus infection.
In a recent meta-analysis of 1,099 COVID-19 patients and 543 SARS patients, the authors found that men possess higher levels of the ACE2 protein that both diseases need in order to penetrate host cells.
None of this is to say that there aren’t broad takeaways that likely apply to all populations to some degree or another.
It should be noted that Dr. Spector contends that people should prioritize public health measures as opposed to looking to panaceas. This may be especially true of high-risk communities and given the data from the study he contributed to only supported modest effects.
“Many people think that taking vitamins and other supplements can help maintain a healthy immune system, but spending your money on supplements in the hope of trying to avoid getting COVID-19 is largely unjustified. You’re better off focusing on getting a healthy diet with diverse fresh vegetables and fruits, which should give you all the nutrients you need for a healthy immune system,” Spector added.
“Over the weekend, the government announced it would be providing 2.7 million vulnerable individuals in England to be offered free winter supply of Vitamin D. Based on our research, we cannot tell whether vitamin D supplements will have any real impact on these high risk groups.”
Setting aside COVID-19 risk for a moment, we know that the vitamins and supplements highlighted in the new medRvix report are extremely beneficial to overall health.
Putting COVID-19 risk back into the picture, we see that each dually contributes to important immune response functions.
Dr. Peter Osborne with Origins Nutrition Center, recently implored Americans to you receive blood analysis to check vitamin levels.
“I think that’s probably one of the smartest things that a person could do right now, with an unpredictable role of a relatively unknown illness. What we do know at this point about vitamin therapy, particularly about vitamin D, a new study has come out and a new analysis has come out on what we know about vitamin D and COVID. So far, here’s what we know: people with low vitamin D who get COVID have a greater tendency toward dying, have a greater tendency toward hyper-inflammation in the cytokine storm that comes with COVID, and have a greater tendency toward getting on ventilators, which are very bad because ventilators don’t work very well for COVID,” Dr. Osborne wrote.
“When a person’s on a ventilator with COVID it’s not a good thing. So, the outcomes aren’t great, so if we can keep people off of ventilators and we can keep their immune system supported really well with nutrition, that ideally that makes the most sense.”
According to Osborne, nine out of 10 COVID-19 deaths could be prevented if people had adequate Vitamin D levels.
“Taking a multivitamin may increase daily quality of life through increased energy, often from the B vitamin combinations, along with other protective measures,” explained Dr. Danielle Plummer, PharmD. “It’s important to choose a vitamin that has the nutrients in which you are deficient and meets your nutritional needs.”