Everyone is looking for a leg up in the fight to keep COVID-19 at bay. However, two supplements that experts hoped might offer a little extra protection against the disease don’t measure up after all, a new study finds.
Taking either zinc or vitamin C (ascorbic acid) — or a combination of the two — does not significantly decrease either the severity or the duration of symptoms associated with COVID-19, Cleveland Clinic researchers say.
Their findings were published recently in the American Medical Association’s journal JAMA Network Open.
Previously, there had been widespread speculation that vitamins and supplements like zinc and vitamin C might offer benefits to people hoping to avoid or treat COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Zinc is known to benefit immune function, and plays a role in antibody and white blood cell production. It also is known to fight infections. Meanwhile, vitamin C is an antioxidant that reduces damage to cells and boosts the immune system.
Nonetheless, the Cleveland Clinic researchers found that among 214 adult patients confirmed to have COVID-19, taking 10 days of zinc gluconate (50 milligrams per day) or vitamin C (8,000 milligrams over the course of each day) — or a combination of the two — made no significant difference in how long it took for their symptoms to subside compared to patients receiving standard care.
In fact, for that reason, the study was stopped early.
In an announcement, Dr. Milind Desai, director of clinical operations in Cleveland Clinic’s Heart Vascular & Thoracic Institute and co-principal investigator of the study, said:
“As we watched the pandemic spread across the globe, infecting and killing millions, the medical community and consumers alike scrambled to try supplements that they believed could possibly prevent infection, or ease COVID-19 symptoms, but the research is just now catching up. While vitamin C and zinc proved ineffective as a treatment when clinically compared to standard care, the study of other therapeutics continues.”
The researchers also noted that the patients in the study were receiving outpatient care rather than being treated in a hospital, as people who contract COVID-19 but don’t require hospitalization are more likely to turn to supplements.
The study participants also had an average age of about 45 years, and most (61.7%) were women.
Although taking zinc and vitamin C may be a dead end, there is a supplement that multiple studies have found can help you avoid a bad coronavirus infection, as we reported in “Can This Vitamin Help Protect You From COVID-19?“