Immune-boosting supplements do not reduce the risk of death from COVID-19, the review finds
Immune-boosting supplements do not reduce the risk of death from COVID-19, the review finds

Immune-boosting supplements do not reduce the risk of death from COVID-19, the review finds

A new review of COVID-19 hospitalization data from researchers at the University of Toledo has found that taking immune-boosting supplements such as vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc does not reduce your chance of dying from COVID-19.

Early in the pandemic, healthcare providers tried a number of micronutrients as potential therapies for the new disease. Recently, supplements have been promoted by some as an alternative to the safe and proven vaccines.

Dr. Azizullah Beran, however, said there has been little evidence that these strategies work, despite the persistent interest in them.

Many people have this misconception that supplementing with zinc, vitamin D or vitamin C can help with the clinical outcome of COVID-19. That has not turned out to be true. “

Dr. Azizullah Beran, Internal Medicine Resident, University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences

Beran is the lead author of a new paper that significantly strengthens the new medical consensus that micronutrient supplements are not an effective treatment for COVID-19.

He and his collaborators reviewed 26 peer-reviewed studies from around the world that included more than 5,600 admitted COVID-19 patients. Their analysis found no reduction in mortality for those treated with vitamin D, vitamin C, or zinc compared with patients who did not receive one of these three supplements.

Their analysis found that treatment with vitamin D may be associated with lower intubation rates and shorter hospital stays, but the researchers say a more rigorous study is needed to validate this finding.

Vitamin C and zinc were not associated with shorter hospital stays or lowering the chance that a patient would be put on a respirator.

While the study predominantly looked at patients who were already ill and hospitalized with COVID-19 when they received the supplements, researchers analyzed a smaller subset of individuals who had taken vitamin D before being infected with the virus. They also found no significant difference in mortality for that population.

The article is published in the journal Clinical Nutrition ESPEN.

“It is important for people to understand that taking many of these supplements does not give better results,” said Dr. Ragheb Assaly, a UToledo professor of medicine and the newspaper’s senior author. “The other important message is that the answer to this disease is the vaccine. Micronutrient supplements will not offset the lack of vaccination or make you not need the vaccine.”

Researchers warn that the study should not be interpreted as saying that vitamin and mineral supplements are bad or should be avoided, but rather make it clear that they are not effective in preventing COVID-19 deaths.

Beran and Assaly say it is possible that some COVID-19 patients who are malnourished or otherwise deficient in micronutrients may benefit from taking supplements, but that is because their bodies are already lacking essential nutrients -; not because vitamin D or vitamin C are effective against the virus.

“What we’re saying is this: If you do not medically need these supplements, do not take them and think they are protective against COVID-19,” Beran said. “They will not prevent you from getting it, and they will not prevent you from dying.”


Journal reference:

Beran, A., et al. (2022) Clinical significance of micronutrient supplementation in patients with coronavirus disease 2019: A comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical nutrition ESPEN.

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