The scientists at the King's analyzing data from an app have discovered that certain vitamin supplements might have a small effect on reducing the chances of catching coronavirus or COVID-19 for women but not men. The decrease in risk was modest and ranged from up to nine percent for vitamin D, around 14 percent for probiotics, up to 13 percent for multivitamins, and 12 percent for omega, as per reports.
Around 1.4 million users of the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app in the US, UK, and Sweden gave answers to questions regarding their use of supplements during the early part of the pandemic. Over 445,000 of the users confirmed a positive COVID-19 PCR or serology test and more than 126,000 were predicted to have coronavirus based on the symptoms.
The data showed that multivitamins, omega-3, vitamin D, and probiotic supplements had a very little but statistically significant protective effect against the disease while vitamin C, zinc, or garlic supplements did not have any detectable effect. But when the scientists broke down the analysis they found that the protective association was only present in the case of females.
COVID-19 and Vitamins
Researchers suggest that the difference can be because of the differences in the immune systems between males and females. Alternatively, they stated that it can be due to the reporting bias, with one sex confirming the supplementation more accurately. The scientists also investigated whether the 'healthy-bias' can explain the discoveries. People who consume vitamins and other supplements might also be more likely to take good care of the overall health and engage in steps for avoiding getting infected with the coronavirus like wearing a mask.
However, if the discoveries were only a reflection of the healthy bias effect, all supplements will be expected to have a protective effect. Moreover, when the scientists adjusted their data to account for the probable confounding factors that might reflect the 'healthy bias', the correlation remained statistically significant.
"Our research is an observational study and not a clinical trial, so we can't make strong recommendations based on the data we have. Until we have further evidence about the role of supplements from randomized controlled trials, we recommend following the NHS guidelines on vitamins usage as part of a healthy balanced diet," the lead researcher Dr. Cristina Menni from the School of Life Course Sciences stated.
Professor Tim Spector said, "Many people think that taking vitamins and other supplements can help maintain a healthy immune system, but spending your money on supplements in the hope of trying to avoid getting COVID-19 is largely unjustified. You're better off focusing on getting a healthy diet with diverse fresh vegetables and fruits, which should give you all the nutrients you need for a healthy immune system."
"Over the weekend, the government announced it would be providing 2.7 million vulnerable individuals in England to be offered free winter supply of Vitamin D. Based on our research, we cannot tell whether vitamin D supplements will have any real impact on these high-risk groups," the professor added.