COVID-19: Vitamin Supplements May Have an Effect on Women

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By analyzing data from an application dedicated to tracking COVID-19 cases, the researchers found that certain vitamin supplements may have a small effect in reducing the likelihood of contracting the infection in women, but not in men.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many studies have suggested the possible association between low serum vitamin D levels and Covid-19 mortality. In fact, this vitamin could play a role in the regulation and suppression of the inflammatory response of cytokines in the origin of the acute respiratory distress syndrome that characterizes the severe forms of the disease. The interest of the scientific community for this vitamin even led the Academy of Medicine to point out in a press release last May that "vitamin D could be considered a complement to any form of therapy by reducing the inflammatory storm and its consequences. ".

In a pre-publication study, researchers at Kings College London were not only interested in the potential benefits of vitamin D supplementation in this context, but looked at the effect of various types of vitamins. Their analyzes are based on the use of the "ZOE COVID Symptom Study" app used by 1.4 million people in the UK, USA and Sweden. "We look for correlations between taking supplements and reporting a positive COVID-19 test by PCR or serological test, or having symptoms predictive of COVID," explains Dr. Cristina. Menni lead author of the study.

No effects were seen with vitamin C and zinc.

The data showed that more than 44,500 users reported a positive COVID-19 serological or PCR test and more than 12,000 had one of the most predictive symptoms of the disease, loss of smell. The results revealed that multivitamin, vitamin D, omega-3, and probiotic supplements had a very weak but statistically significant protective effect against COVID-19, while vitamin C, zinc, or garlic supplements had no detectable effect. However, when the researchers broke down the analysis by gender, they found that, interestingly, this beneficial link was only present in women.

"We found that multivitamin supplements, vitamin D, omega-3, and probiotics were modest in protecting women, but we do not see the same consistent protective effect for men. It was a surprising result. Adds Dr. Cristina Menni. The researchers. suggest that this finding can be explained by the differences in the immune system between men and women, the latter has even been highlighted in other studies on immune responses during Covid-19 disease. The other assumption is an "information bias", that is, one sex has reported its information with greater precision ".

Taking care of general health is the most important

According to the researchers, the explanation may also come from a "healthy bias." This is because people who take vitamins and other supplements are more likely to take better care of their overall health and take steps to avoid infection, such as wearing a mask. and hand washing. This so-called "healthy bias" could explain why people who took supplements were less likely to contract the virus. "However, if the results only reflected the effect of this healthy bias, one would expect all supplements to have a protective effect, but this was only seen in a limited range," they note.

While these results are intriguing, they point out that more studies are needed because they do not definitively prove that supplementation can reduce the chances of contracting the virus. According to Dr. Cristina Menni, "This is an observational study and not a clinical trial, so we cannot make strong recommendations based on the data we have. Until we have additional evidence on the role of supplements from controlled trials. randomized, we recommend that you follow the official health guidelines on the use of vitamins as part of a healthy and balanced diet. "

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