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Zinc and vitamin C do not help against COVID-19

Despite its reputation for its powers to boost the immune system, a recent study reports that vitamin C and zinc supplements do not help COVID-19 patients recover from their illness.

Administering one or the other, or a combination of both, did not significantly reduce the severity and duration of the patients’ COVID-19 symptoms. Zinc is important for immune function, and vitamin C is an antioxidant that has been shown to boost the immune system.

In this study, researchers evaluated how the COVID-19 infection of 214 adults responded to 10 days of zinc gluconate (50 milligrams [mg]), vitamin C (8,000 mg), both, or usual care.

The study, whose end point was a 50 percent reduction in symptoms, ran from April to October 2020. It was stopped because there was no significant difference between the four groups of patients.

Zinc and vitamin C do not help against COVID-19. Photo: Pixabay

The findings were published in the Feb. 12 issue of the JAMA Open Network.

« When we started this trial, there was no research to support the use of adjunct therapy for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 patients, » said study author Dr. Milind Desai, director of clinical operations at the Heart, Vascular and Thoracic Institute of the Cleveland Clinic.

« As we watched the pandemic spread around the world, infecting and killing millions, both the medical community and consumers rushed to buy supplements that they believed could perhaps prevent infection, or alleviate the symptoms of COVID-19, but the research is just catching up, « Desai explained in a Cleveland Clinic news release. « Although vitamin C and zinc were ineffective as treatments when compared clinically with standard care, the study of other therapeutic agents continues. »

The patients in this study were not hospitalized, but received outpatient treatment.

« We know that not all COVID-19 patients require a hospital admission, and compared to those who are treated in the hospital setting, they are more likely to seek supplements that could help them, so it was an important population to study. » said study co-author Dr. Suma Thomas, vice president of strategic operations for the institute.

More information: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has more on COVID-19.

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