Potential role for vitamins or supplements in prevention or treatment of COVID-19


Greta Goldshtein, PharmD, APh

December 19, 2020




As I write this, USA is experiencing an upsurge of COVID-19 cases (caused by SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus), which is expected to persist over the winter months until the newly approved vaccines are distributed and administered to majority of Americans. While there have been advances in treatment protocols and COVID-19 survival rates have improved since Spring 2020, the availability of medical care is expected to significantly dwindle in the next several months as our hospitals become overwhelmed with cases. Health experts are urging the population to “avoid breathing the same air” as people outside of their own households by avoiding congregating indoors, wearing masks in public, and socially distancing.



People are urged to stay as physically and mentally healthy as possible during these stressful times by maintaining a balanced diet, regular physical activity, good sleeping habits, meaningful social connections, and generally practicing good self-care. As part of this “wellness” approach, there is a theoretical role for select supplements and vitamins to help boost immunity and help protect against COVID-19 through their potential to decrease viral growth and/or regulate the body’s immune response to the virus. Among the proposed substances are vitamins C and D, zinc, N-acetylcysteine, Omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, selenium, and melatonin.


I will be writing a series of short articles explaining the possible role of each of these supplements as pertains to COVID-19. It must be noted that there are no rigorous scientific studies to provide strong support for these supplements or define the best dosing protocols for their use in COVID-19. The consumer is left to their own devices in trying to figure out the best approach to self-treatment. Though these supplements can be readily purchased over the counter and are generally considered to be safe, there is still potential for harm if used incorrectly. In writing this series of short articles, my goal is to answer the question of which supplements may be most beneficial and to provide practical information on dosing, sources, cautions, monitoring and any other special considerations.


I welcome feedback and questions. You may write me at greta@courtyardpharmacy.com


References:


Bauer SR, Kapoor A, Rath M, Thomas SA. COVID-19 Curbside Consults: What is the role of supplementation with ascorbic acid, zinc, vitamin D, N-acetylcysteine for prevention or treatment of COVID-19? Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, June 2020 https://doi:10.3949/ccjm/87a.ccc046



Louca, Panayiotis (2020). Dietary supplements during the COVID-19 pandemic: insights from 1.4M users of the COVID symptom study app – longitudinal app-based community survey. medRxiv preprint server. Doi: https://doi.org.10.1101/2020/2020.11.27.20239087, https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10/1101.2020.11.27.20239087v1


Sahebnasagh A, Saghafi F, et al. The prophylaxis and treatment potential of supplements for COVID-19. European Journal of Pharmacology, September 2020. https://doi.rog/10.1016/j.ejphar.2020.173530

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