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Vitamin C, zinc don't lessen Covid-19 symptoms, study finds

Can vitamin C and zinc help you fight off Covid-19?No, not even at high doses, according to the first randomized clinical trial to test the two supple...

Posted: Feb 12, 2021 6:39 PM

Can vitamin C and zinc help you fight off Covid-19?

No, not even at high doses, according to the first randomized clinical trial to test the two supplements under medical supervision.

Despite the popular use of vitamin C and zinc to fight off or lessen the severity of viral colds and flu, the new study, published Friday in JAMA Network Open, found the two supplements were of no benefit to people isolating at home with Covid-19.

In fact, the findings were so unimpressive that the study was stopped early.

"Unfortunately, these 2 supplements failed to live up to their hype," wrote Dr. Erin Michos of John Hopkins and Houston Methodist's Dr. Miguel Cainzos-Achirica, in an accompanying editorial.

The clinical trial gave high doses of each supplement alone and in combination to one of three groups of 214 adults who were recovering at home. A fourth group got standard care, such as rest, hydration and fever-reducing medications, but no supplements.

"High-dose zinc gluconate (zinc), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), or both supplements did not reduce SARS-CoV-2 symptoms," according to Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Dr. Milind Desai and a team from Cleveland Clinic.

The high doses, however, did cause some unpleasant side effects for patients taking the supplements.

"More adverse effects (nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramps) were reported in the supplement groups than in the usual care group," wrote Michos, an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Cainzos-Achirica, an assistant professor of preventive cardiology at Houston Methodist.

Popular supplements

Many Americans turn to vitamin C and zinc supplements to fight off viral colds and flu.

Vitamin C is a recognized antioxidant, and plays an essential role in supporting the immune system. Even though it has not been shown to prevent illness, other research has found vitamin C can shorten colds by 8% in adults and 14% in kids.

Using vitamin C after cold symptoms start, however, doesn't appear to be helpful, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Zinc may help a cell's ability to fight infection, the study said, "while there is evidence that zinc deficiency increases pro-inflammatory cytokines and decreases the production of antibodies."

But what does that mean in real life? If taken within 24 hours of the very first signs of a cold, zinc may reduce the length of a cold by only one day, a a review of 13 studies found.

There is a down side, too. Taking over 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C a day can cause heartburn, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and headaches. The average daily recommended amount of vitamin C is 75 milligrams for adult women and 90 milligrams for men.

Over 40 milligrams of zinc each day can cause dry mouth, nausea, loss of appetite and diarrhea, plus it can have a nasty metallic taste.

Long-term users can have "low copper levels, lower immunity, and low levels of HDL cholesterol (the 'good' cholesterol)," according to the NIH. In 2009, the FDA warned the public against using zinc nasal sprays because they were linked to more than 100 cases of loss of smell.

Research continues

Scientists are continuing to explore the use of vitamins and supplements in the treatment of Covid-19.

Randomized trials are currently underway to see if vitamin D supplements can help -- in addition to supporting healthy bone growth, vitamin D has anti-inflammatory properties.

Researchers in the US and China are using intravenous doses of vitamin C to determine if it might help people with respiratory failure severe enough to be put on a ventilator.

And more studies are in progress to see if Covid-19 can be prevented by supplements such as vitamins C and D and zinc.

Based on this study, however, the use of vitamin C and zinc to shorten the duration of Covid-19 appears to be useless.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 708779

Reported Deaths: 13226
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion966191721
Lake51761946
Allen39224672
Hamilton34549405
St. Joseph34157541
Elkhart27356432
Vanderburgh22081394
Tippecanoe21853212
Porter17935299
Johnson17544374
Hendricks16822310
Clark12697190
Madison12353337
Vigo12219244
Monroe11469166
LaPorte11162204
Delaware10366184
Howard9664211
Kosciusko9134114
Hancock7990139
Bartholomew7893155
Warrick7691155
Floyd7563176
Wayne6906198
Grant6844171
Boone6556100
Morgan6405138
Dubois6085117
Marshall5786108
Dearborn570376
Cass5685102
Henry5579101
Noble542683
Jackson493569
Shelby479495
Lawrence4342118
Gibson429089
Harrison428570
Clinton419753
Montgomery418086
DeKalb411184
Whitley380239
Huntington379880
Miami372865
Knox366689
Steuben365757
Putnam353160
Jasper350946
Wabash347878
Adams338052
Ripley334668
Jefferson313180
White308454
Daviess289499
Wells286481
Decatur279092
Fayette277262
Greene270785
Posey268833
Scott261153
LaGrange253670
Clay253544
Randolph235680
Washington231031
Spencer228031
Jennings225047
Fountain208845
Sullivan207942
Starke204752
Owen192356
Fulton192039
Jay186429
Carroll185920
Perry180736
Orange177853
Rush170724
Vermillion166043
Franklin165635
Tipton161043
Parke144616
Blackford133831
Pike130334
Pulaski113845
Newton104234
Brown100140
Crawford97614
Benton97113
Martin82915
Warren79715
Switzerland7698
Union69910
Ohio55811
Unassigned0408

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1054807

Reported Deaths: 18991
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1225191356
Cuyahoga1074592069
Hamilton783261168
Montgomery50176996
Summit45557909
Lucas40298765
Butler37768570
Stark31513895
Lorain24246473
Warren23910293
Mahoning20946583
Lake20067362
Clermont19459229
Delaware18085130
Licking16149207
Fairfield15757197
Trumbull15627460
Medina14922259
Greene14706236
Clark13660293
Wood12806185
Portage12431196
Allen11352229
Richland11067198
Miami10548214
Muskingum8717127
Wayne8594209
Columbiana8569226
Pickaway8439121
Marion8390135
Tuscarawas8387240
Erie7600154
Hancock6730123
Ross6707146
Geauga6553146
Ashtabula6530165
Scioto6295101
Belmont5634158
Union558447
Lawrence5470102
Jefferson5343147
Huron5314114
Darke5273121
Sandusky5189120
Seneca5139120
Washington5087107
Athens503856
Auglaize476284
Mercer471984
Shelby456590
Knox4397108
Madison423959
Putnam421799
Ashland413488
Fulton410567
Defiance404296
Crawford3883101
Brown386955
Logan374476
Preble371098
Clinton362160
Ottawa357978
Highland347459
Williams328674
Champaign321557
Jackson308551
Guernsey307549
Perry290549
Fayette278048
Morrow275939
Hardin264764
Henry264366
Coshocton259857
Holmes253499
Van Wert239262
Pike233831
Gallia233446
Adams229152
Wyandot227553
Hocking209759
Carroll189447
Paulding168838
Meigs141738
Noble132937
Monroe128941
Morgan106823
Harrison105636
Vinton81614
Unassigned02
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Significantly cold air settles in across northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio Tuesday night.
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