Biblical and Constitutional Politics

Fitness for One and All

 

Supplements to Reduce the Risk of Covid-19

Part One: The Research

By Gary F. Zeolla

 

      This article is a follow-up to my four-part article Why I Decided to Get Vaccinated (Refuting Covid Anti-Vaxxers).  In that article, it was stated that one reason Covid-19 anti-vaxxers are refusing to get a Covid vaccine is because they think they are protected from Covid due to supplements they take.

      This article will investigate if in fact the proposed supplements are effective at reducing the risk of contracting the Coronavirus (CV), of reducing the risk of serious consequences from a Covid infection, and/ or for treating a Covid infection, and if the reduction of risk is sufficient to make up for not getting a Covid vaccine.

      The main supplements being proposed for the purpose for reducing risk from Covid are megadoses of vitamins C and D and the mineral zinc. But do these megadose supplements work? I did some research in this regard.

      Using DuckDuckGo, I first did a search on “Coronavirus studies Vitamin C.” I then repeated the search but substituted vitamin D then zinc. The bulk of this Part One of this two-part article will look at the results of my searches.

     

NBC Radio News Report

 

      Before getting to that research, it would be good to mention about a study I heard about on NBC Radio News on April 19, 2021. It found that a basic multi-vitamin/ mineral supplement, Vitamin D3, and Omega 3 fatty acids helped to reduce the risk of infection, but zinc and Vitamin C did not. Being just a short radio report, not many details were given.

      But this study did provide some interesting potential insights. First, the benefit of a basic multi-vitamin/ mineral supplement made sense, for the same reason taking a basic multi-vitamin/ mineral supplement for general health purposes makes sense. The diets of many Americans are less than stellar, so a basic multi-vitamin/ mineral supplement helps to make up for any possible nutrient deficiencies.

      However, as I make clear in my books Creationist Diet: Second Edition and God-Given Foods Eating Plan, in no way does a basic multi-vitamin/ mineral supplement make up for an unhealthy diet. That is because an unhealthy diet can cause health problems beyond just not providing necessary nutrients. Excessive amounts of unhealthy food elements, like processed carbs, can cause problems in addition to providing empty calories that contribute to nutrient deficiencies.

      A full discuss on this issue is outside the scope of this article. But the point is, a basic multi-vitamin/ mineral supplement should never be looked at as a substitute for a healthy diet. At best, it should be looked at as a way to supplement or add a little extra to a healthy diet. That attitude will be an important to remember later.

      But here, the point is, it makes sense that a basic multi-vitamin/ mineral supplement would be beneficial at reducing the risk of contracting the CV, as any nutrient deficiency puts the body at a less than ideal state, and that opens the door to any infection, along with other health problems.

      Along the same lines, it makes sense that a vitamin D supplement would help, as one nutrient Americans tend to be deficient in is vitamin D. The best source for vitamin D is of course sunshine. But many Americans do not get sufficient sun exposure, especially those of us who live in northern climates, for sufficient vitamin D production. More on that issue later.

      But here, the next nutrient, Omega 3 fatty acids, make sense for the same reason. Many Americans do not get sufficient Omega 3 fatty acids intake. That is because the best dietary source of Omega 3 fatty acids is fish, but most American do not eat a sufficient amount of fish to provide the needed Omega 3 fatty acids.

      Interestingly, fish is also the best dietary source of vitamin D. Hence, if Americans consumed more fish, especially fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, and sardines, then probably neither vitamin D nor Omega 3 fatty acids supplements would have proven to be beneficial, as dietary intake would provide the needed amounts.

      On the other hand, it makes sense that zinc did not provide any protection from a Covid infection. That is because red meat is the best dietary source of zinc, and most Americans eat plenty of red meat, too much in fact. Thus, few Americans are deficient in zinc.

      The same goes for Vitamin C. Through the best dietary sources for vitamin C are fruits and vegetables, and most Americans do not consume the recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, it really does not take a lot to provide the recommended 60 mg of vitamin C. One orange or a glass or OJ will do the trick. But this is a clue to a megadose of vitamin C not being effective, to which we turn next.

      But first, one last point to note on this study is throughout it was said the nutrient either reduced the risk of Covid or did not reduce the risk. It was not said even the supplements that worked would eliminate or even virtually the risk. Also, percentages of reduction of risk were not given for those nutrients.

 

Vitamin C

 

         People who are deficient in vitamin C could be more at risk of SARS-CoV-2, or of developing severe COVID-19 because their immunity is impaired

         Vitamin C deficiency is associated with increased susceptibility to infections, a less robust immune response, poor wound healing, and an increased risk of pneumonia

         Research has suggested up to 7% of the U.S. population may be deficient in vitamin C. People with certain conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, inflammatory conditions, immunosuppression, or who smoke are more likely to be deficient…

 

      There have been hundreds of studies investigating vitamin C, many of which have conflicting results. One of the biggest problems with vitamin C studies is that most do not measure vitamin C concentrations before or after supplementation. Supplementation is unlikely to show an effect in people whose vitamin C levels are already high (Drugs.com).

 

      The point of the preceding extended quote is what I just explained—supplements might help if you are deficient in a nutrient. But since 93% of Americans are not deficient in vitamin C, then supplemental vitamin C is unlikely to provide much benefit.

 

      Zinc and Vitamin C fell short in a clinical trial after researchers found they made no significant difference in easing the duration of coronavirus symptoms.

      Findings from the Cleveland Clinic were published in JAMA Network on Friday, drawing on results from April 27 to Oct. 14 [2020], when 214 coronavirus patients in Ohio and Florida outpatient care sites were given either 50 milligrams of high-dose zinc to be taken at night, 8,000 milligrams of Vitamin C to be taken several times throughout the day with meals, a combination of the two or standard care over a 10-day period….

      Patients reached a 50% reduction in symptoms after 6.7 days with usual care, 5.5 days when treated with Vitamin C, 5.9 days with zinc and 5.5 days for the combo treatment.

      “These findings suggest that treatment with zinc, ascorbic acid, or both does not affect SARS-CoV-2 symptoms,” study authors wrote (Fox News. Zinc, Vitamin C).

 

      As comments at the end of this article on Fox News’ website point out, there looked to be some benefit, a lessening of 1.2 to 1.4 days of symptoms. Also, this study only looked at giving these nutrients once symptoms already had begun, not beforehand. But since this study mentions zinc, I will look at it next.

 

Zinc

 

      Increased intracellular zinc concentrations efficiently impair replication in a number of RNA viruses. Zinc has been shown to enhance cytotoxicity and induce apoptosis when used in vitro with a zinc ionophore (e.g., chloroquine). Chloroquine has also been shown to enhance intracellular zinc uptake in vitro. The relationship between zinc and COVID-19, including how zinc deficiency affects the severity of COVID-19 and whether zinc supplements can improve clinical outcomes, is currently under investigation. Zinc levels are difficult to measure accurately, as zinc is distributed as a component of various proteins and nucleic acids.

 

      This page on the website for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) then gives summaries of various trials:

 

      In a randomized clinical trial that was conducted at three academic medical centers in Egypt, 191 patients with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection were randomized to receive either zinc 220 mg twice daily plus hydroxychloroquine or hydroxychloroquine alone for a 5-day course….

      There were no significant differences between the two arms in the percentages of patients who recovered within 28 days (79.2% in the hydroxychloroquine plus zinc arm vs. 77.9% in the hydroxychloroquine only arm; P = 0.969), the need for mechanical ventilation (P = 0.537), or overall mortality (P = 0.986)….

      There were no significant differences in baseline characteristics between the arms. In the zinc arm, 73 patients (37.2%) died compared with 21 patients (45.7%) in the control arm. In the primary analysis, which used inverse probability weighting (IPW), the effect estimate of zinc therapy was an additional 0.84 days of survival (95% CI, -1.51 days to 3.20 days; P = 0.48)….

 

      During the study, 545 patients (16%) died. In univariate analyses, mortality rates were significantly lower among patients who received zinc plus hydroxychloroquine than among those who did not (12% vs. 17%; P < 0.001). Similarly, hospital discharge rates were significantly higher among patients who received zinc plus hydroxychloroquine than among those who did not (72% vs. 67%; P < 0.001).

      In a Cox regression analysis that adjusted for confounders, treatment with zinc plus hydroxychloroquine was associated with a significantly reduced risk of in-hospital death (aHR 0.76; 95% CI, 0.60–0.96; P = 0.023). Treatment with zinc alone (n = 1,097) did not affect mortality (aHR 1.14; 95% CI, 0.89–1.44; P = 0.296), and treatment with hydroxychloroquine alone (n = 2,299) appeared to be harmful (aHR 1.60; 95% CI, 1.22–2.11; P = 0.001)….

      In this preprint, the use of zinc plus hydroxychloroquine was associated with decreased rates of in-hospital mortality, but neither zinc alone nor hydroxychloroquine alone reduced mortality. Treatment with hydroxychloroquine alone appeared to be harmful.

 

      This last study is most instructive. Zinc alone and hydroxychloroquine alone were not helpful, maybe even harmful for the latter. But when taken together, they can be helpful. But sadly, the use of hydroxychloroquine got politicized, so it is now hard to get a physician to prescribe it. But without it, zinc supplementation might not be helpful.

 

      Calling the specific virus that is causing COVID-19 “coronavirus” is a bit like calling the Ford Explorer “the SUV.” Both statements are true, but with both, one is part of the other. There are lots of different SUVs; there are lots of different coronaviruses.

     

      This opening paragraph on a page on UC Health’s website about zinc supplementation parallels a statement I made in my four-part vaccine article. The term “coronavirus” is very non-specific. We should have been calling the virus that causes Covid-19 the “Wuhan Coronavirus” all along, but political correctness forced us into using a non-specific term for the virus.

      That said, this page was from March 25, 2020, so it was posted very early on in the pandemic, so no studies were yet done on using zinc for treating Covid. But it overviews the use of zinc for other coronaviruses. The results of such studies are summarized by saying, “… can zinc shorten the duration of – or even diminish the symptom load and thereby lessen the impact – of COVID-19? The answer is we don’t know yet.” 

 

Vitamin D

 

      Stop waiting for a miracle drug: A Boston University doctor says a sufficient amount of vitamin D can cut the risk of catching coronavirus by 54%.

      “People have been looking for the magic drug or waiting for the vaccine and not looking for something this simple,” said Dr. Michael Holick, professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at Boston University School of Medicine.

      Holick and his colleagues studied blood samples from Quest Diagnostics of more than 190,000 Americans from all 50 states and found that those who had deficient levels of vitamin D had 54% higher COVID positivity compared to those with adequate levels of vitamin D in the blood.

      The risk of getting coronavirus continued to decline as vitamin D levels increased, the study, published in the Public Library of Science One peer-reviewed journal shows.

      “The higher your vitamin D status, lower was your risk,” Holick said.

      Many people are vitamin D-deficient because there are only small amounts in food, Holick said. Most vitamin D comes from sun exposure and many are deprived, especially during winter months….

      The average adult needs around 2,000 units of vitamin D a day, Holick said. He said he’s been taking 6,000 units a day for decades and is in great health (Boston Herald).

 

      Note the numbers in the preceding quote. A 54% reduction in risk, and a need for 2,000 IUs a day. That is far greater than the DV of 400 IUs.

 

      The risk of testing positive for COVID-19 was 1.77 times greater for patients with likely deficient vitamin D.

      Low vitamin D levels may increase risk for coronavirus, according to a retrospective study. Researchers at the University of Chicago Medicine found those who were deficient in vitamin D (< 20ng/ml) and not treated, were nearly twice as likely to test positive for COVID-19 compared to those who had sufficient levels.

      “The relative risk of testing positive for COVID-19 was 1.77 times greater for patients with likely deficient vitamin D status compared with patients with likely sufficient vitamin D status, a difference that was statistically significant,” the authors stated in the recently published study in JAMA Network Open….

      Vitamin D affects the metabolism of zinc, which decreases the ability of coronaviruses to replicate. The team of researchers also stated that “higher vitamin D levels correlate with lower interleukin 6 levels, which are a major target for controlling cytokine storm in COVID-19.”

      Vitamin D may help reduce the spread of the virus given its ability to affect replication of viral cells and accelerate the clearance of the virus cells, the study found (Fox News. Vitamin D).

 

      An increase of 1.77 times would correspond with a 54% reduction in risk. Either way, we’re talking about an increase or decrease of about 50% based on one’s vitamin D status.

 

         A new study that looked at 216 people with COVID-19 found that 80 percent didn’t have adequate levels of vitamin D in their blood.

         The study also found that people who had both COVID-19 and lower vitamin D levels also had a higher number of inflammatory markers such as ferritin and D-dimer, which have been linked to poor COVID-19 outcomes.

         A different study found that COVID-19 patients who had adequate vitamin D levels had a 51.5 percent lower risk of dying from the disease and a significant reduced risk for complications.

         Medical experts theorize that maintaining adequate vitamin D levels may help lower risk or aid recovery from severe COVID-19 for some people, though more testing is needed....

 

The Endocrine Society recommends that infants should get anywhere from 400–1,000 IUs daily, children 600–1,000 IUs daily, and adults 600–2,000 IUs daily. The amount needed depends on your current levels or if you’re trying to raise them (Healthline. New).

 

      Here, 2,000 IUs is the upper level for intake, but note that the 80% with inadequate levels of vitamin D being infected means that only 20% of people with adequate levels were infected with Covid-19. But then note that adequate vitamin D levels reduced the risk of death by 51.5%. That is along the same lines as the previous two studies.

 

      Israeli population-based study supports research showing that vitamin D supplements could help people avoid serious respiratory effects of Covid-19.

      A low level of vitamin D in blood plasma appears to be an independent risk factor for Covid-19 infection and hospitalization, say scientists from Israeli HMO Leumit Health Services and the Azrieli Faculty of Medicine of Bar-Ilan University.

      The researchers came to their conclusion using real-world data and an Israeli cohort of 782 Covid-19 positive patients and 7,025 Covid-19 negative patients.

      “The main finding of our study was the significant association of low plasma vitamin D level with the likelihood of Covid-19 infection among patients who were tested for Covid-19, even after adjustment for age, gender, socio-economic status and chronic, mental and physical disorders,” said Dr. Eugene Merzon, head of Leumit’s Department of Managed Care.

      “Furthermore, low vitamin D level was associated with the risk of hospitalization due to Covid-19 infection, although this association wasn’t significant after adjustment for other factors,” he added (Israeli 21C).

 

      Here, there was not only a correlation with getting an infection but also the degree of seriousness of an infection, but the infection correlation was more significant, though percentages of reduction of risk were not given.

 

      A board-certified pathologist is speaking out about the underlying cause of covid hospitalizations and deaths. Dr. Ryan Cole is the founder of Cole Diagnostics, one of the largest independent laboratories in Idaho. He has studied the real reasons why people suffer from infections. Vitamin D deficiency, which plagues approximately 70 percent of the world’s population, is the real public health issue at hand.

      “Normal D levels decrease your COVID symptom severity risk for hospitalization by 90 percent. There have been a lot of placebo-controlled trials that show this all around the world. It is scientific fact, not just a correlation,” said Dr. Cole. “Data shows what kills people. Cytokine storm. If you are in (Vitamin D) mid-level range, you will not die from COVID because you cannot get a cytokine storm” (News Target).

 

      The numbers here are quite astounding. 70% of the world’s population is vitamin D deficient, yet this doctor claims normal vitamin D levels can decrease hospitalization risk by 90%. That is out of line with the previous studies that found about a 50% reduction in risk. That lower level probably more correct, though still very significant.

 

      However, the Mayo Clinic claims something quite different.

      There isn’t enough data to recommend use of vitamin D to prevent infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 or to treat COVID-19, according to the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization….

 

      However, in recent years two randomized clinical trials that studied the effects of vitamin D supplementation had less hopeful results. In both trials, high doses of vitamin D were given to people who had vitamin D deficiencies and were seriously ill — not with COVID-19. Vitamin D didn’t reduce the length of their hospital stays or their mortality rates when compared with those given a placebo.

      Further research is needed to determine what role, if any, vitamin D and vitamin D deficiency might play in the prevention of and treatment of COVID-19.

      In the meantime, if you have a vitamin D deficiency, talk to your doctor about whether a supplement might be right for you. If you’re concerned about your vitamin D level, ask your doctor about getting it checked (Mayo Clinic).

 

      In between the quoted portions of this page are short reports of studies that showed vitamin D was effective, but the Mayo Clinic seems to think the results were not statistically significant. But a study reported on PubMed was statistically significant, though there were only ten participants.

 

Methods: This study is a case series from confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Bethesda Hospital Yogyakarta Indonesia. The data of clinical symptoms, signs and laboratory examinations were obtained from the electronic medical records. The vitamin D status was measured by Enzyme-Linked Fluorescent Assay (ELFA) method. We searched PubMed and Google Scholar for studies that included terms for Vitamin D and COVID-19.

 

Results: The data were obtained from 10 participants consisting of 50% male and 50% female. The mean age was 49.6 years. The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in this study was 90% (vitamin D levels < 20 ng/mL) and 10% of insufficiency (vitamin D levels < 30 ng/mL).

 

Conclusions:… Clinicians should continue to treat people with vitamin D deficiency especially in managing COVID-19 patients.

 

      That final conclusion seems certain. It also seems certain that vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of a Covid infection and of its severity if one is infected. Most studies find an reduction of risk of about 50% for both, though some claim even higher risk reduction rates. Given this data, it would stand to reason that ensuring adequate intake, either via sunshine or supplementation, would be warranted.

      As for amounts, the recommended amounts for this purpose are far greater than the DV of 400 IUs. Though I am skeptical about more than 2,00 IUs being needed. Personally, I take 1,000 IUs, in addition to the 700 IUs in my multi-vitamin.

      The vitamin D product I take is Jarrow’s Vitamin D3 1,000 IUs softgel. I like it, as it has few ingredients other than the actual D3. For those who want to take more, this Jarrow product is also available in 2,500 IUs and 5,000 IUs strengths. Though again, I really do not think such large amounts are needed, at least for prevention, though maybe while dealing with a Covid infection.

      These findings about vitamin D leads to an important consideration that will be covered in Part Two of this two-part article. It will be published in a special issue of this FitTips for One and All newsletter next week, the first week of August 2021, then posted on this website.

 

References for Part One:

General Supplementation:

      Science News. Can supplements really help fight COVID-19? Here’s what we know and don’t know.

      Fox26 Houston. Studies suggest 4 vitamins to lower risk of severe cases of COVID-19/

      Fox News. Strengthen your immune system amid coronavirus: Experts offer simple tips.

 

Vitamin C:

      Drugs.com. Can vitamin C prevent or treat COVID-19 (coronavirus)?

      Fox News. Zinc, Vitamin C have no impact on coronavirus symptoms: study:

 

Zinc:

      NIH. Zinc Supplementation and COVID-19.

      UC Health. Coronavirus: To zinc or not to zinc?

 

 Vitamin D:

      Boston Herald. Vitamin D can help reduce coronavirus risk by 54%: Boston University doctor.

      Fox News. Vitamin D deficiency may increase coronavirus risk, study says.

      Healthline. New Study Found 80% of COVID-19 Patients Were Vitamin D Deficient.

      Israel 21c. Vitamin D helps us fight Covid-19, major study finds.

      News Target. Vitamin D deficiency is the primary cause of covid hospitalizations and deaths.

      Mayo Clinic. Can vitamin D protect against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?

      PubMed. Vitamin D deficiency among patients with COVID-19: case series and recent literature review.

 

Note:

      The links to supplement products on Amazon are advertising links, for which I receive a commission if an item is purchased through one of them.

 

Supplements to Reduce the Risk of Covid-19: Part One: The Research. Copyright 2021 by Gary F. Zeolla (www.Zeolla.org).

 


Creationist Diet
Second Edition
A Comprehensive Guide to Bible and Science Based Nutrition
 

The above article was posted on this website July 30, 2021.

Coronavirus Articles and Commentaries

Alphabetical List of Pages     Contact Information

Text Search     Biblical and Constitutional Politics

Fitness for One and All

Supplements: Articles