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Can natural supplements protect you from COVID-19?

March 18, 2021
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While having the appropriate amount of vitamins in your system is healthy, it’s not a guaranteed shield against coronavirus.

“Herbal and vitamin supplements are everywhere in the groceries and pharmacies. Their role in the fight against COVID-19 is unclear,” Dr. Armando Paez, chief of Infectious Diseases at Baystate Medical Center.

Vitamin D

You can get Vitamin D from being out in the sun, eating certain foods, or taking supplements.

According to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin D does a lot of good for your body.

It is:

  • Needed for bone growth
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Helps your immune system function
  • Helps with your metabolism

Even with all that good, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found a boost in vitamin D doesn’t guarantee a healthy outcome, except in bone health. The group reviewed data from about 250 studies published between 2009 and 2013. The findings were too inconsistent to say vitamin D is a “cure all.”

The National Institutes of Health says there’s not enough evidence to say vitamin D can prevent or treat COVID-19 either.

“The role of vitamin D in the treatment of COVID-19 is actively being investigated,” Dr. Paez said.

It says the misperception may come from the fact that Hispanics and African Americans tend to be vitamin D deficient. But these same ethnic groups are overrepresented in COVID-19 numbers.

The same is true for older patients and patients with obesity and hypertension. They tend to not have enough vitamin D in their system to begin with, and they are also more at risk for COVID-19.

There are still clinical trials in progress or planned to investigate the effects on vitamin D on COVID-19 patients.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant which fights off free radicals that might do harm to your cells.

According to the National Institutes of Health, people may need more vitamin C when they are in oxidative stress. This is why vitamin C supplements can help people with infections and sepsis. People with severe cases of COVID-19 can develop sepsis, which is why researchers are investigating whether vitamin C supplements would help patients.

Right now, there’s not enough evidence to conclusively say whether vitamin C should be used as a treatment for COVID-19.

Zinc

Zinc is a mineral commonly found in fish, red meat, and poultry. Eating a good diet typically gives your body all the zinc it needs.

The Mayo Clinic says if you do have a zinc deficiency, taking oral zinc supplements can help shorten the length of a cold.

The COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel recommends against taking zinc supplements to prevent COVID-19, if that would bring you above the recommended amount.

Taking zinc supplements for months at a time can lead to zinc toxicity and:

  • Cause copper deficiency (which can lead to issues like anemia and leukemia)
  • Make medications less effective by making it harder for your body to absorb them

CBD Oil

Researchers at Augusta University in Georgia are studying whether cannabis derived CBD can ease a severe type of lung inflammation caused by COVID-19.

The study was done on mice. Results showed CBD treatments brought the effected mice’s lungs either totally or partially back to normal.

But more research has to be done, especially on human subjects.

Are other home remedies effective?

Coconut Oil

In February 2020, the health secretary for the Philippine government said researchers there are looking into using coconut oil to treat novel coronavirus infections (but not the new COVID-19 strain). More recently in October, the Philippine General Hospital started working on two studies testing whether coconut oil could be used as an effective treatment for COVID-19.

The World Health Organization does not, however, endorse this or any other method as a treatment.

Garlic

Save the garlic for warding off vampires!

Although the food has been used in home remedies, there’s no evidence it can protect you for COVID-19.

Hot Peppers

The World Health Organization says hot peppers are delicious but do not prevent COVID-19.

Green Tea

The Mayo Clinic says its unlikely green tea has any effect on your immune system and cannot stop you from getting COVID-19.

The Importance of Vaccines

“Vitamin supplementation are still being studied in COVID-19 treatment but do not show clear benefit at this time unless you have vitamin deficiency,” Dr. Paez said.

That’s why it’s important to get the COVID-19 vaccine when you are eligible.

According to the CDC, getting vaccinated for COVID-19 “leads to fewer COVID-19 illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths” for our communities.

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Get help scheduling a vaccine appointment.