A study conducted by an international team of researchers recently found a tiny link between the use of supplements, specifying fewer COVID-19 infections in women who take certain types of vitamins.
However, a ScienceAlert article said that there's no need to rush just yet to the pharmacy. While in some nations, the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is well underway, a lot of people are still living in the midst of the danger of the pandemic minus the protection and need all the help they can get.
First, it is essential to remember that the probable benefits of multivitamins are exceedingly restricted. Medical practitioners advise in general that most people get adequate micronutrients in their diet to stay healthy. Previous research on the health benefits of vitamin supplements minus a diagnosed illness has definitely been a mixed bag.
Despite this, during the onset of this pandemic, vitamins were among the numerous items that flew off the shelves in pharmacies.
Essentiality of Vitamins and Supplements
In their study entitled "Modest effects of dietary supplements during the COVID-19 pandemic: insights from 445 850 users of the COVID-19 Symptom Study app," published in the BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health, researchers wrote that the United Kingdom supplement market increased by 19.5 percent in the period that led up to the nationwide lockdown in March 2020, with a 110-percent increase in sales of vitamin C and more than 90-percent increase in sales of multivitamin supplements.
Similarly, the team also wrote that sales in zinc supplements increased by 415 percent over the seven-day period ending March 8, "at the height of COVID-19" concerning the United States.
Essentially, supplements can play a vital role in supporting one's health. Specifically, zinc is one of the few micronutrients associated with cutting short the duration of a disease like the common cold.
In addition, those who are on vegan diets are recommended a daily intake of B12 vitamins to help fight deficiency. However, staving off contagions is where it's getting tricky.
COVID-19 Symptom Study App
The study authors took data from an app health company Zoe launched in early 2020. It's called the 'COVID-19 Symptom Study app,' which asked individuals an array of questions which included if they used vitamins like fish oils, probiotics, multivitamins, vitamin c, vitamin D, or zinc.
In addition to this, the app also asked if they had been tested for COVID-19 and what were the results. A total of 445,850 subscribers from the US, UK, and Sweden answered the set of questions before the end of July last year, giving the research team plenty of data to assess
Answers showed that in the UK, where the vast majority of respondents were based, just below 50 percent take some kind of supplement.
Roughly six percent of those that took the supplements tested positive for COVID-19, while 6.6 of those who did not take the supplement tested positive. The difference was equivalent to roughly 2,500 individuals.
In the UK group, the researchers explained in their study, users who regularly supplement their diet with multivitamins had a lower risk of testing positive for COVID-19 by 13 percent.
Those regularly taking vitamin D were found to have a lower risk by nine percent, while those taking probiotics had a lower 14-percent risk. Meanwhile, those taking omega-3 fatty acids had a lower 12-percent risk. No substantial links were found in those supplementing with garlic, vitamin C, or zinc.
Notable Warnings Resulting From the Study
There are lots of warnings resulting from the study. First, it is observational research based on self-reports. Meaning, there is no causal evidence that vitamins indeed led to fewer diagnoses of COVID-19.
The researchers adjusted for age, gender, BMI, and a number of other factors and attempted to account for 'healthy user bias,' which is the notion that those taking their vitamins are likely to have better health in other ways as well, which could conflate the outcomes.
Even following such an attempt, the outcomes were still there, although interestingly, the researchers had divided the results by gender.
For males, there was no difference associated with supplements. For females, on the other hand, the results existed across all ages and BMI cohorts.
The outcomes were slightly different between Sweden and the US, finding that the omega-3 supplements did not seem to aid Sweden women, and vitamin D and probiotics seemed to help men in the US.
Related information is shown on Christy Risinger, MD's YouTube video below:
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