Vitamins, supplements and COVID-19: a review of currently available evidence

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Abstract

Background: In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an information overload of health data (both accurate and inaccurate) available to the public. With vitamins and supplements being readily accessible, many have turned to using them in an effort to combat the virus. The purpose of this review was to analyse clinical trials regarding vitamins and supplements for the treatment of COVID-19 infections.

Methods: Articles were identified through a literature search utilizing online databases and bibliographic review.

Results: A total of seven articles were identified for review. All articles evaluated the use of vitamins and supplements for the treatment of COVID-19. Drug therapies included oral vitamin D, intravenous and oral vitamin C, oral vitamin D/magnesium/vitamin B12, oral zinc, oral combination zinc/ascorbic acid, and intravenous alpha-lipoic acid. The end points of each study varied, including the Sequential Organ Failure Assessment score, mortality, rate of intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, negativity of COVID-19 tests, oxygen requirements, and symptom burden.

Conclusion: Of the vitamins and supplements that were studied, vitamin D presented the most promising data demonstrating significant decreases in oxygen requirements, need for ICU treatment, SARS-CoV-2 RNA test positivity, and mortality. All of these benefits were exhibited in hospitalized patients. Other vitamins and supplements that were evaluated in studies did not demonstrate any statistically significant benefits. Common shortcomings of the articles included generally small sample sizes, varying sites of study (which could determine the virus variant), a lack of standard of care as background therapy, and utilization of doses that were higher than standard.

Keywords: coronavirus, COVID-19, SARS-COV-2, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus, supplement, vitamin.

Citation: Speakman LL, Michienzi SM, Badowski ME. Vitamins, supplements and COVID-19: a review of currently available evidence. Drugs Context. 2021;10:2021-6-2. https://doi.org/10.7573/dic.2021-6-2

Contributions: LS, SM and MB developed the concept for this manuscript and equally contributed to the research, analysis, and writing of the manuscript and development of tables and figures. All named authors meet the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) criteria for authorship for this article, take responsibility for the integrity of the work as a whole, and have given their approval for this version to be published.

Disclosure and potential conflicts of interest: Dr Michienzi has received grants or contracts from Moderna outside of the work. The authors declare that they have no other conflicts of interest relevant to this manuscript. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) Potential Conflicts of Interests form for the authors is available for download at: https://www.drugsincontext.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/dic.2021-6-2-COI.pdf

Acknowledgements: None.

Funding declaration: There was no funding associated with the preparation of this article.

Copyright: Copyright © 2021 Speakman LL, Michienzi SM, Badowski ME. Published by Drugs in Context under Creative Commons License Deed CC BY NC ND 4.0 which allows anyone to copy, distribute, and transmit the article provided it is properly attributed in the manner specified below. No commercial use without permission.

Correct attribution: Copyright © 2021 Speakman LL, Michienzi SM, Badowski ME. https://doi.org/10.7573/dic.2021-6-2. Published by Drugs in Context under Creative Commons License Deed CC BY NC ND 4.0.

Article URL: https://www.drugsincontext.com/vitamins-supplements-and-covid-19-a-review-of-currently-available-evidence

Correspondence: Melissa Badowski, Department of Pharmacy Practice, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy, Chicago, IL, USA. Email: badowski@uic.edu

Provenance: Invited; externally peer reviewed.

Submitted: 9 June 2021; Accepted: 26 August 2021; Publication date: 6 October 2021.

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