Since the start of this pandemic, health bodies are suggesting people follow precautionary measures to avoid contracting the virus, such as wearing a mask and maintaining social distance. But it took a few months to finally understand the virus and what are the easiest ways to lower the chance of being infected. A new study supports a healthy diet or use of supplements can significantly lower the risk Covid-19. These supplements include multivitamins, vitamin D, probiotics, and omega-3 pills. While other supplements i.e., zinc, and herbal dietary supplements such as garlic supplement showed no effect on the virus.
The complete study findings are now published in the journal BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health.
In the last whole year, there has been so much publicity about supplements and how they may save and treat a person from the deadly Covid-19. But most of that endorsement was made without research backing hence it was declared as pandemic misinformation. But it had such a strong impact on the public that within the UK, the supplement industry experienced a whopping 19.5% increase around the period when the first lockdown was imposed last year. Top of these sales were vitamin C supplements which showed a 110% increased followed by multivitamin pills. The sales of zinc supplements increased up to 415% while the demand for herbal dietary supplements was also considerably high.
Dietary supplements provide benefits to the gut and immunity but how some particular supplements can save from Covid-19 was not clear. To understand this link many research experts based their studies on the effect of supplements during this pandemic period. One research team used the data from the COVID-19 Symptom Study app to take an idea about how supplement intake has affected the risk of Covid-19.
This app was launched back in March 2020 in Sweden, the US, and the UK and provides self-reported information regarding the pandemic. Initially, the users provided their complete data such as age and medical history to the ap but as the cases increased the app request information regarding tests, healthcare, symptoms, and treatment too. This data also includes asymptomatic cases.
To estimate Covid-19 risk with certain supplements, the data from 372,720 UK-based subscribers were taken and analyzed from May to July 2020, when the country was battling with the first wave of Covid-19. During this period,175,652 app users reported taking a dietary supplement whereas 197,068 confirmed not using any. It included 67% of women and more than half of them were overweight, with a BMI of 27.
Among all these app users, 23,521 people contracted the virus and were tested positive while 349,199 were reported negative for Covid-19 from May to July.
The use of probiotics such as multivitamin pills, probiotics, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acid pills appeared to lower the Covid-19 cases from initial data. Whereas the participants showed no results from taking zinc supplements, vitamin C pills, and garlic pills.
Going through the age, BMI, and gender of these participants, it appeared that the protective role of supplements was much more pronounced in women as compared to men. With minor differences, this pattern was the same in the US, and Sweden too.
The study reveals a positive association between these nutritional supplements and the risk of Covid-19 but there is a dire need for more extensive research finding which other nutrients have these protective roles and which one can be withdrawn.