Do vitamins help against COVID-19? – Spectrum News 1

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​​​COLUMBUS, Ohio — Certain vitamins and supplements have become more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, but there isn’t evidence to support taking any of these products to prevent or to treat the virus, according to officials and experts.
Whether it’s from Facebook friends or influencers, state representatives or congressional representatives, advertisements or internet articles, vitamins and supplements are regularly touted as having benefits for COVID-19.
Amy Lewis, supervisor of clinical nutrition for Mount Carmel Medical Group, said there aren’t any vitamins or supplements that she would recommend for COVID-19 prevention, treatment or recovery.
“There’s nothing that’s been proven to have any kind of significant impact on the disease or decreasing a risk of getting it,” she said. “All the studies that are out there that have looked at it, a lot of them are very preliminary, they’re usually in very small groups of people for very short periods of time, so just the information we’re even getting from them is very limited.”
For some, a vitamin regimen a substitute for vaccination, however, others who are vaccinated are also taking products they hope will bolster their immune systems. 
Besides the lack of evidence to support their use, Lewis said you can get many of the vitamins that people have taken for COVID-19 through everyday foods.
“A lot of the stuff that’s out there from a COVID benefit — you do you see the things on like vitamin C and magnesium and all these things that may help — well, a lot of those things you’re going to get in a healthy diet,” she said. “Just doing the things that you should already be doing by eating right, and sleeping and exercising are going to help your immune system probably more than any supplement that you could take.”
Courtnee Davis, who is the manager at a GNC store in Gahanna, Ohio, said many of their customers have become increasingly interested in vitamins and supplements because of the pandemic. 
“What motivates most of our customers? Probably just living a better life. With the pandemic, people weren’t really living the best that they could,” she said. 
Davis, who is vaccinated, said she has taken an elderberry product throughout the pandemic, hoping it will bolster her immune health. 
She said customers are coming in for super magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin C. She has also noticed that their “vitapaks” have been popular lately, which include six to eight different vitamins, as well as probiotics. Each customer has a different motivation for seeking vitamins, she said. 
Davis said many customers who come into the store aren’t sure exactly what they want, so she tries to guide them in a good direction. With a background in pre-workout and protein products, she said she has been researching vitamin products so she can better advise customers in those areas. 
“I started reading up on the vitamins, so I am starting to get better with that, but it definitely takes time and looking up different ingredients of things, but it’s mostly just really listening to the customer, for me,” she said. 
While she believes certain vitamins can help people avoid catching COVID-19, she said vaccination and other prevention measures like handwashing are the best practices for avoiding illness. 
According to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, vaccines and therapeutics are the only proven tools for prevention and treatment of COVID-19 disease. 
The agency’s resource page for “Dietary Supplements in the Time of COVID-19” explains that scientists are conducting ongoing research on certain supplements, but “the results so far do not show that any are useful for COVID-19."
At Mount Carmel, Lewis said she hasn’t noticed a stark increase in questions from patients about supplements since COVID-19. People have always been interested in how vitamins and supplements might help with various disease processes, she said.
“But it definitely makes sense that people started thinking in that direction, you know, okay, maybe this could be something that could help me and keep me healthier during this time,” she said. “Patients often turn to more natural remedies and things that they can get pretty easily in their home to try to help to decrease the risk of that disease progressing or even getting that infection to start with.”
Lewis encourages patients to talk with a health professional or pharmacist if they have questions about supplements, especially because products are not regulated to the same degree as medication or even food. Vitamins can also have interactions with medications, which could be a problem for many patients who are at high-risk for COVID-19 and seek supplements. 
If a patient is advised to take a supplement by a doctor or an expert, Lewis recommends looking out for a gold and black USP seal or a blue and white NSF seal on the product, which show the product has been tested in a third-party lab to ensure it contains what it purports to contain.
Lewis and her colleagues have been reminding patients that some vitamin and supplement companies are trying to capitalize on the pandemic to advertise their products.
“They want to make money off these products and they know they can throw them out there quickly and kind of feed off of our desire to want to treat ourselves and to be healthier and to stay healthy, so we have to be skeptical about the motive behind these companies, and ‘why, all the sudden, am I seeing all these ads, and all these stories pop up about the benefits of these different supplements for me, when I never heard about that before?’” she said.