Can popping vitamins really reduce the Covid-19 threat?

Can taking vitamin supplements reduce the risk of death by Covid-19? Here’s what an expert has to say about it.
Are you taking vitamins to cut the risk of Covid-19? It may not help. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Sandeep Patil Published: 5 Mar 2022, 01:00 pm IST
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There is a high chance that you have heard from multiple sources that various food items, drugs, or other do-at-home methods can prevent, treat, and cure Covid-19. This is not true as currently, there is no cure available for Covid-19 and authorized or approved Covid-19 vaccines offer the best chance of avoiding a severe coronavirus infection. Although researchers are testing a variety of treatments, we still have some way to go before we reach a cure. But misinformation continues to circulate about ways to prevent the infection or treat it. Indeed, zinc, melatonin, vitamin C and D, and other supplements have been commonly prescribed from the earliest days of the pandemic.

Can popping vitamins cure Covid-19?

One common misinformation circulating is that vitamins can reduce the risk of dying from Covid-19. But do they work? Unfortunately, no, as there is little evidence that taking immune-boosting supplements such as vitamin C, D, and Zinc can effectively treat the virus. Researchers also analyzed a smaller subset of individuals taking vitamin D before contracting the virus, and found no significant difference in the mortality rate.

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Coronavirus leads to various medical complications. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

While vitamins might not play an influential role in treating the disease, they should not be avoided as they have a lot of health benefits. Moreover, some patients with Covid-19 who are malnourished or otherwise deficient in micronutrients, may benefit from taking supplements. But, that’s because their bodies already lack essential nutrients – not because vitamin D or C is effective against the virus.

How can one reduce the risk of death by Covid-19?

The best way to tackle the pandemic is by taking the Covid-19 vaccine. There are many approved vaccines depending on the country a person chooses to get vaccinated in. Currently, there are nine approved vaccines in India, three of which have been developed in India. While it’s true that you can still get infected after being vaccinated, once a majority of the population is vaccinated, those chances are further reduced as herd immunity builds.

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Battle against coronavirus is still on. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Older people have weaker immune responses and may not respond well as the youth does to many vaccines. This may also include the seasonal influenza vaccine. Given that malnutrition is common among older adults, it is a good idea to raise their vitamin and mineral levels. This step before they get vaccinated could be a way of boosting the effectiveness of vaccines. For the immune system to fight off infection or generate good protection against disease following vaccination, it needs a variety of micronutrients. This is likely to be just as true for Covid-19 as other diseases.

Here are some precautions you should consider before taking vitamins:

There are significant hazards to consider when taking supplements, including vitamins, without any prescriptions. These include side effects, allergic reactions, interactions with other drugs, the cost of unnecessary supplements, and the dangers of taking too much. If you want to take a supplement, check with your doctor before starting your course. Ask about the dosage, other medications you’re taking, and other health conditions you have. The last thing you want to do is take a supplement that causes more harm than good.

In conclusion, the fact remains that if a person does not medically need supplements, there is no need to take them. They’re not going to prevent a person from getting Covid-19, and they’re not going to prevent anyone from dying.

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About the Author

Dr Sandeep Patil, Chief Intensivist, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan, Mumbai ...Read More

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