If you’ve been on social media at all over the last few months, you’ve probably seen posts or advertisements about coronavirus remedies or miracle cures.
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It’s important to know that nothing has been proven to prevent or cure COVID-19, says infectious disease specialist Kristin Englund, MD. That includes supplements and natural health products.
While some vitamins and supplements may make claims about supporting immune health, none have been shown to be effective in fighting COVID-19.
If you do get sick, it’s important not to use supplements in place of getting proper medical care. And it’s best to consult with your doctor before starting any new supplement in general.
Here’s what we do and don’t know about supplements and coronavirus so far.
A: Zinc is a mineral that’s important for immune health. Because of this, you often see it used in over-the-counter cold remedies. A number of clinical trials are now testing whether zinc – combined with other supplements or drugs – could prevent COVID-19 or help people get over it more quickly, but no study results have been published yet.
A: Vitamin D is thought to have protective effects on the immune system, but it’s not yet known whether it could help prevent or treat COVID-19. New research has noted higher rates of COVID-19 infection and death in areas where people have lower levels of vitamin D in their system. But those studies show an association – not that low vitamin D makes someone more likely to get COVID-19. Research is ongoing.
A: Clinical trials are exploring whether vitamin C, in combination with other treatments, could help COVID-19 patients, but no studies have been completed yet.
A: Some people who have COVID-19 get digestive symptoms such as diarrhea. While probiotics may contribute to a healthy balance of gut bacteria, there’s no evidence that they do anything for people with COVID-19.
A: Selenium is a mineral that occurs in soil, water and some foods. In China, researchers noted that the COVID-19 death rate was lower in regions where people have higher selenium intake and status. But this does not mean that selenium supplements will prevent or cure COVID-19.
A: Copper surfaces are known for their antiviral and antibacterial properties. One recent study found that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 only remains viable on copper surfaces for a max of four hours – compared to two or three days on plastic and stainless steel surfaces. But there’s no evidence suggesting that taking copper supplements will prevent or cure COVID-19.
A: There’s no research showing that using or consuming any natural or herbal products, including essential oils, eucalyptus oil or witch hazel, will prevent infection with the 2019 novel coronavirus.