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Supplements which may lower COVID-19 risk

Wednesday April 21st 2021

Women may gain protection against COVID-19 from taking some common vitamin and dietary supplements, according to a new study.

Dr Cristina Menni, of King's College London, UK, and colleagues explain that the use of dietary supplements in prevention and treatment of COVID-19 has been promoted since the beginning of the pandemic, alongside a steep rise in the UK supplement market.

"A biologically plausible role exists for certain vitamins and minerals in immune pathways," they wrote in BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health on Monday (19 April).

"For example, vitamin D has been suggested to reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission by enhancing antiviral immunity and to reduce mortality by mitigating the cytokine storm linked with severe COVID-19. Moreover, zinc also supports the function of the immune system and may have specific antiviral effects."

They used self-reported information from 445,850 subscribers to the COVID-19 Symptom Study app, living mostly in the UK, but also the USA and Sweden.

Overall, those in the UK who regularly took probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, multivitamins or vitamin D in the three months up to August 2020 had a lower chance of a positive test. The drop in risk associated with each supplement was about 10%. There was no apparent effect for vitamin C, zinc or garlic supplements.

The protective effects were seen in females of all ages and BMI groups, but were not in men, the researchers said. The same overall patterns were observed in the US and Swedish cohorts.

The authors conclude that: "Randomised controlled trials are required to confirm these observational findings before any therapeutic recommendations can be made."

Louca, P. et al. Modest effects of dietary supplements during the COVID-19 pandemic: insights from 445 850 users of the COVID-19 Symptom Study app). BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health 20 April 2021; doi: 10.1136/bmjnph-2021-000250

[abstract]

Tags: Alternative Therapy | Diet & Food | Flu & Viruses | Pharmaceuticals | Respiratory | UK News | Women's Health & Gynaecology | World Health

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