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Dietary Supplements Might Lessen the Risk of Contracting COVID-19

A study published in the journal BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health revealed that taking multivitamins, probiotics, omega-3 or vitamin D supplements may lessen the risk of testing positive for COVID-19 infection. But taking any vitamin C, zinc, or garlic supplements wasn’t associated with a lower risk of testing positive for the virus, the findings show. 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, note the researchers.

Dietary supplements can help to support a healthy immune system, but whether specific supplements might be associated with a lower risk of catching SARS-CoV-2 isn’t known. In a bid to plug this knowledge gap, the researchers drew on adult users of the COVID-19 Symptom Study app to see if regular supplement users were less likely to test positive for SARS-CoV-2. The app was launched in the UK, the US, and Sweden in March 2020 to capture self-reported information on the evolution of the pandemic.

Initially, it recorded the location, age, and core health risk factors of its users. But as time went on, subscribers were asked to provide daily updates on a range of issues, including symptoms, coronavirus test results, and healthcare. People without obvious symptoms were also encouraged to use it. For this study, the researchers analyzed information supplied by 372,720 UK subscribers to the app about their regular use of dietary supplements throughout May, June, and July 2020 during the first wave of the pandemic as well as any coronavirus swab test results. Between May and July,175,652 UK subscribers regularly took dietary supplements;197,068 didn’t. Around two-thirds (67%) were women and over half were overweight (BMI of 27). In all, 23,521 people tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, and 349,199 tested negative between May and July.

Taking probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, multivitamins, or vitamin D was associated with a lower risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection: by 14%, 12%, 13%, and 9%, respectively, after accounting for potentially influential factors, including underlying conditions and usual diet. The equivalent figures for the US and Sweden were a reduced risk of:18% and 37%, respectively for probiotics; 21% and 16%, respectively, for omega-3 fatty acids; 12% and 22%, respectively for multivitamins; and 24% and 19%, respectively, for vitamin D supplements.

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