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Can supplements ward off and treat COVID-19 infection?

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Jiya Saini
Jiya Saini is a Journalist and Writer at Revyuh.com. She has been working with us since January 2018. After studying at Jamia Millia University, she is fascinated by smart lifestyle and smart living. She covers technology, games, sports and smart living, as well as good experience in press relations. She is also a freelance trainer for macOS and iOS, and In the past, she has worked with various online news magazines in India and Singapore. Email: jiya (at) revyuh (dot) com

According to recent findings from the COVID Symptom Study app, taking multivitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, or vitamin D supplements may help women reduce their risk of testing positive for COVID-19.

The study, published in BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health, found that men seemed not to benefit, vitamin C, zinc and garlic were ineffective.

First author Panayiotis Louca said:

There has been plenty of celebrity endorsement of the use of dietary supplements to both ward off and treat COVID-19 infection since the start of the pandemic, although scientific evidence has been lacking.

“Our research shows that women taking certain supplements were slightly less likely to test positive for COVID-19, but we need further research to understand why this is the case before we can recommend these supplements to all women to protect against COVID-19.

The researchers looked at data from 372,720 adult COVID-19 Symptom Study app users to see if those who took supplements regularly were less likely to test positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 infection.

In March 2020, the app was launched in the United Kingdom to collect self-reported data on symptoms, test results, and other health and lifestyle factors throughout the pandemic.

Probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, multivitamins, or vitamin D supplementation were associated with a reduced risk of COVID-19 infection of 14%, 13%, 13%, and 9%, respectively, even after adjusting for confounding variables such as underlying conditions and the overall quality of each person’s diet. Additionally, the team discovered that these supplements provided some protection for women of all ages and weights.

No such effects were observed in men or those supplementing with vitamin C, zinc, or garlic.

Senior author Cristina Menni said:

“This study indicates there may be a link between supplements and COVID-19, but our research is an observational study and not a clinical trial. We need further research and clinical trials to establish if taking certain supplements can indeed offer any protection against COVID-19.

Professor Tim Spector said:

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.

Until we have further evidence about the role of supplements in COVID prevention, we recommend following NHS guidance on vitamins usage, as part of a healthy balanced diet.

Image Credit: Getty

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