COVID-19 : Can zinc and vitamin C help fight coronavirus?

Can vitamin C and zinc fight covid-19? 1:01

(CNN Spanish) – Zinc and vitamin C are part of a growing list of supplements or treatments some people use to prevent or lessen the symptoms of coronavirus disease. A recent study indicates that consuming them did not contribute to the reduction of symptoms in patients with covid-19.

In this episode, Dr. Elmer Huerta reviews the study and its results.

You can listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast platform, or read the transcript below.

Hello, I am Dr. Elmer Huerta and this is your daily dose of information on the new coronavirus. Information that we hope will be useful to take care of your health and that of your family.

Undoubtedly, when faced with a new, unknown and deadly disease, such as covid-19, science is looking for effective treatments that can control the disease.

Throughout the year that we have a pandemic, and as we hear it in multiple episodes, there are several failed attempts in the search for treatment. The use of hydroxychloroquine, remdesevir and antibody-rich convalescent plasma are some treatments that have fallen by the wayside.

Zinc and vitamin C, among the supplements used in the pandemic

The public has also sought treatments that lead to control of the disease, and in that sense, there are three supplements that are widely used because they are believed to work: zinc, high doses of vitamin C and vitamin D.

Today we will see what is the value of zinc and vitamin C supplements in the treatment of covid-19.

Zinc gluconate and ascorbic acid or vitamin C are over-the-counter supplements that many people commonly use to treat viral illnesses, such as colds and flu.

Zinc is thought to increase the ability of white blood cells to fight infection, and vitamin C, due to its antioxidant power, may play a role in the immune response.

Some studies have suggested that high doses of vitamin C and zinc can shorten the duration of symptoms and lessen the severity of symptoms of the common cold.

But obviously, the fact that these supplements could have some action against colds does not mean that they can be active against SARS-CoV-2.

The study on the use of zinc and vitamin C

That is why a group of researchers from the Cleveland Clinic in the United States carried out an investigation, the results of which were published on February 12 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The main objective of the study was to determine if zinc and / or vitamin C can reduce the severity or duration of symptoms associated with COVID-19, compared to the usual treatment of the disease.

For this, they designed a clinical trial that was carried out in multiple hospitals in the states of Ohio and Florida, between April 27, 2020 and October 14, 2020, in which 214 adult patients with a diagnosis of covid-19 confirmed with a molecular test.

The volunteers were sorted into four groups. The first received only zinc, the second only vitamin C, the third zinc and vitamin C and the fourth none of them, only the usual treatment.

The main point to be investigated was the number of days required to decrease the intensity of four symptoms by 50%: fever, cough, shortness of breath and fatigue.

We also wanted to investigate the number of days that were necessary for the patient to be relieved of all his symptoms, and the number of hospitalizations and deaths.

The 214 patients studied had a mean age of 45.2 years and 61.7% were women.

The results of the study

The results indicated that in patients who did not receive any supplements, symptoms were reduced by half in a mean of 6.7 days, compared with 5.5 days for the vitamin C group, 5.9 days for the zinc group and 5.5 days for the group that received both.

That is, there was no significant difference between the groups that received the supplements in any combination and the one that did not receive them.

Similarly, there were no differences in the number of days it took for the patient to relieve all of his symptoms, nor in the number of hospitalizations or deaths.

The researchers conclude that treatment with high doses of zinc, vitamin C, or a combination of the 2 supplements, did not significantly decrease the duration of symptoms compared to treatment without these supplements.

Without a doubt, it will be necessary to continue looking for treatments that can help control the disease. For now, rest and symptomatic treatments can help the patient to improve spontaneously, and should be evaluated, however, with the help of a pulse oximeter, if a pulmonary complication is developing.

Do you have questions about covid-19?

Send me your questions on Twitter, we will try to answer them in our next episodes. You can find me at @DrHuerta.

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If you have any questions you can send them to Dr. Elmer Huerta via Twitter. You can also head over to for all episodes of our “Coronavirus: Reality vs. Reality” podcast. fiction”.