With the advent of the Covid 19 outbreak worldwide, people were elevated into a state of worry and panic. Supermarket shelves were emptied by panic buyers pre-empting supply chain food shortages. Supplement aisles were also sold out of various minerals and vitamins for Covid 19 prevention. This pandemic response begs some questions; there has been much discussion in terms of the best supplements to fight coronavirus, but:

  • Can vitamin C help prevent coronavirus?
  • Can vitamin D help fight coronavirus?
  • Can elderberry fight coronavirus?
  • Is there any evidence of any supplements or magic pills that can avert Covid 19?

Also, can you guess what the top 5 leading immune-related supplements are flying off the shelves? Let’s have a look at what the research says and debunk some of the common myths out there.

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Are there any supplements to prevent coronavirus?

The multivitamin/multimineral industry has an estimated worth in the region of $30 billion. Much debate has been held in relation to the biological benefits of their consumption. As the world struggles to combat Covid 19, people are seeking out how to survive the coronavirus quarantine without catching the virus. With that in mind, should supplements be one of the things to buy during the coronavirus quarantine or are you just paying to have expensive urine?
The unfortunate truth is that at the time of this article being published, there are currently no supplements to prevent coronavirus. However, let’s delve into some of the most common supplements to see if their consumption can improve overall general health, which ultimately is a fundamental constituent that determines how well you can recover from the coronavirus.
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Can vitamin C prevent coronavirus?

With a threefold increase in sales of vitamin C observed in some retail outlets, it might make you wonder can vitamin C prevent coronavirus. In terms of studies on vitamin C and the coronavirus, China is in the infancy stages of assessing the effectiveness of inducing patients with high dose IV vitamin C to establish if enhanced lung functionality can be achieved. While the study is ongoing, we await the results.

Vitamin C is probably one of the most common supplements synonymous with cold and flu prevention. It would be out of the cultural norm if you haven’t ever taken a vitamin C supplement when you felt the onset of a cold or flu. This is, of course, common advice handed down from parent to child over many generations. But does Mam’s advice to take extra vitamin C stand up to scrutiny? We already know from the previous section that no multivitamins will prevent or treat Covid 19, but can vitamin C prevent colds?

Well, a meta-analysis of 29 studies involving 11,306 participants assessed the risk ratio associated with developing a cold while taking vitamin C in doses of 200 mg or more. The review concluded that regular supplementation with vitamin C failed to reduce the occurrence of colds in individuals and as such, there is no justification in regularly supplementing with vitamin C. However, in a number of participants, it has demonstrated positive effects in terms of reducing the severity of the cold. Additionally, the duration of colds decreased by 8% in adults.

Indirectly, vitamin C aids in collagen production which can help keep skin functioning as a barrier to external harmful elements. It also has the capacity to reduce inflammation in the body through antioxidant properties which may aid in improving immune responses.

Fortunately, it’s rather simple to naturally source vitamin C in your diet. A medium-sized orange provides approximately 77% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. However, don’t expect it to miraculously treat you from all your ailments!
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Can vitamin D help fight coronavirus?

A report released recently in Ireland proposes some groundbreaking information on vitamin D for coronavirus protection. The rates of vitamin D consumption in Irish adults has been identified as inadequate with 13% adults over the age of 50 deficient in vitamin D all year round, and as much as 47% of all adults over 85 deficient in winter. This is likely due to the lack of sun exposure or being primarily housebound.

In terms of Covid 19, a study from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) has identified vitamin D to be paramount in terms of preventing respiratory infections, reducing the requirement for antibiotics and also boosting the immune system to aid in tackling infections.

The study reviewed a meta-analysis which evaluated 25 trials consisting of 10,933 participants in 15 countries. The aim was to determine if supplementing with vitamin D could help prevent the onset of colds, flus or chest infections – acute respiratory infections (ARI). For participants with the lowest blood vitamin D levels, supplementing on a daily or weekly basis expressed a reduced risk of developing one ARI from 60% to 32%. Additionally, it is also highlighted that supplementing with vitamin D is safe and can be beneficial in preventing ARIs.

In a more recent study in 2019 involving 19,000 participants, the research concluded that people with a low blood vitamin D level were at an elevated risk (64%) of contracting community-acquired pneumonia. Therefore, while vitamin D may not directly prevent contracting coronavirus, indirectly, it can assist people, particularly the older population, to improve their immune response and thus, their ability to respond to Covid 19.

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Can elderberry fight coronavirus?

As one of the best-selling supplements on the market, it would be remiss not to investigate the benefits of elderberry in relation to Covid 19. Similar to the aforementioned vitamins, elderberry doesn’t have a direct prevention or treatment relationship towards Covid 19. However, the indirect effects of consuming it is worth considering.

A meta-analysis conducted on 4 studies observed 180 participants who supplemented with elderberry and the potential impact of this on upper respiratory symptoms. The review concluded that there was a significant reduction in upper respiratory symptoms in people who supplemented with the berry.

A small study investigated the effects of elderberry supplementing on influenza. A randomised double-blinded study group of 60 participants aged between 18-54 who displayed symptoms of influenza for 48 hours or less were supplemented with 15ml of elderberry 4 times a day over a duration of 5 days. The test group were administered placebo syrup under the same conditions. The results demonstrated a reduction in the duration of influenza by approximately 4 days. Although this was a small-scale study, it does demonstrate positive indications for elderberry use.

In addition to the above, other studies have promoted the benefits of elderberry consumption with positive immune-enhancing effects, which could be of value in terms of fighting the coronavirus.

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Best-selling supplements

If you’re curious as to what type of supplements are flying off the shelves, below are a list of the best-selling supplements on Amazon. According to Amazon.co.uk, here are the most popular items in immune systems supplements (ignoring duplicate/similar products):

  1. Sambucol Natural Black Elderberry Immuno Forte | Vitamin C | Zinc | Immune Support Supplement | 120ml
  2. Vitabiotics Wellkid Immune Chewable
  3. Vitabiotics | Immunace Extra Protection Tablets
  4. Proven | ProVen Acidophilus & Bifidus
  5. Bioglan SmartKids Vitamin D | Immune Support

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

In terms of vitamins and minerals, the best-selling vitamins and minerals on Amazon.com include:

  1. NatureWise Vitamin D3 5,000 IU (1 Year Supply)
  2. Emergen-C 1000mg Vitamin C Powder, with Antioxidants, B Vitamins and Electrolytes
  3. SmartyPants Kids Formula Daily Gummy Multivitamin
  4. Nature’s Bounty Biotin Supplement
  5. OLLY The Perfect Womens Gummy Multivitamin, 45 Day Supply

Did you expect these supplements to be in the top 5?

Note – the above are only provided to demonstrate the popularity in terms of supplements being bought at the time of this article being published.

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Summary

  • There are no supplements currently available to directly prevent coronavirus
  • Adopting a balanced diet with food that helps your immune system is one of the best ways to fight coronavirus
  • Vitamin C can assist in reducing the duration and severity of colds
  • Indirectly, vitamin C can improve immune responses to harmful compounds
  • Adequate intake of vitamin D can enhance your immune response compared to someone who is lacking in vitamin D
  • Elderberry supplementation has been linked with reduced upper respiratory symptoms and immune-enhancing properties

Do you take supplements or have you started taking supplements to prevent coronavirus? If you do, have you found any difference or improvement? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Sources

Amazon.com. 2020. Amazon Best Sellers: Best Vitamin Supplements. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 April 2020].

Amazon.co.uk. 2020. Amazon.Co.Uk Best Sellers: The Most Popular Items In Immune System. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 April 2020].

Hawkins, J., Baker, C., Cherry, L. and Dunne, E., 2019. Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) supplementation effectively treats upper respiratory symptoms: A meta-analysis of randomized, controlled clinical trials. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 42, pp.361-365.

Hemilä, H. and Chalker, E., 2013. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Kubala, J., 2020. Can Supplements Fight Coronavirus (COVID-19)? 15 Immune Boosters. [online] Healthline. Available at: [Accessed 25 April 2020].

Laird, E. and Kenny, R., 2020. Vitamin D deficiency in Ireland – implications for COVID-19. Results from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA).

Norton, D., 2020. Debunking The Myths About Food And The Coronavirus. [online] RTE.ie. Available at: [Accessed 25 April 2020].

Shoemaker, S., 2020. Can Vitamin C Protect You From COVID-19?. [online] Healthline. Available at: [Accessed 25 April 2020].

Zakay-Rones, Z., Thom, E., Wollan, T. and Wadstein, J., 2004. Randomized Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Elderberry Extract in the Treatment of Influenza A and B Virus Infections. Journal of International Medical Research, 32(2), pp.132-140.

Categories: Blogs

10 Comments

Partha · 26/04/2020 at 1:35 PM

Hi Sharon,

I find it quite intersting that you mention Vitamin D in terms of immune response.

I recall around 5 years ago I was going through a particular difficult period in my life and I seemed to be prone to colds, coughs and flu (something that had never really bothered me before).

I just assumed that due to personal circumstances at the time I was simply feeling a little rundown and this was maybe affecting my immune system, thus the various ailments.

Eventually, I decided to visit my doctor, and I was told that I actually had a severe vitamin D deficiency.

It seemed a little strange to me at the time, so I did some further research into the effects of vitamin or a lack of.

It does make perfect sense to me now.

Great post as always.

Thanks
Partha

    Sharon · 27/04/2020 at 7:46 PM

    Hi Partha,

    Oh that’s interesting, it’s surprisingly common to have a vitamin D deficiency. I’d be curious as to whether you’d attribute that to your diet or perhaps lifestyle, e.g. limited sunshine. I hope you’re back to healthy levels now and that it cured you of your ailments. It can be so frustrating when you catch a cold that you just can’t shake!

    Thanks for sharing though – very insightful!

    Best wishes,
    Sharon

Kathy · 26/04/2020 at 3:41 PM

Thank you for such a well written and interesting article on supplements. I’m not currently taking any at the moment, but was interested to hear that vitamin D may help prevent respiratory infections, and can understand Ireland’s population suffering a lack of it! I also found the benefits of taking elderflower interesting, especially as a small study found it lessened recovery time from flu. It will be wonderful when a cure for Covid-19 is found, but not sure that taking any supplement would prevent it. I eat a very healthy diet full of fresh fruits and veg, and certain that goes a long way in boosting the immune system.

    Sharon · 27/04/2020 at 7:50 PM

    Hi Kathy,

    You are most welcome, thank you for your kind words! I agree with you on the elderberry study, it’s an area I plan to delve deeper into in the near future. You’re onto a winning formula there with fresh fruit and veg, they’re full of goodness and you should reap the benefits of choosing such foods!

    Best wishes,
    Sharon

AlyseS · 27/04/2020 at 10:11 PM

Hi Sharon: I enjoyed your blog very much and all the detailed information. I think that all the supplements mentioned are amazing and can help build the immune system. I take supplements on a daily basis just to balance what I don’t get in my diet and of course to keep my immune system strong. I think it has helped to prevent Coronavirus.

    Sharon · 28/04/2020 at 8:05 PM

    Hi there,

    Thank you so much for your kind words and providing your own personal experience with supplements.

    If there’s anything I can be of assistance with, don’t hesitate to reach out!

    Best wishes,
    Sharon

MommyAskk · 27/04/2020 at 10:33 PM

This is great information! I recently heard about elderberry for prevention of COVID and this post really did help me understand why. I have a question though. I have heard that vitamin D that you take as a supplement can not compare to the sun we get from going outside 10-30 minutes a day (depending on where you live). Can you weigh in on that or maybe another post to explain?

Thank you!

Andrea
MommyAskk

    Sharon · 28/04/2020 at 8:11 PM

    Hi Andrea,

    That’s one of the many myths out there but thankfully that’s not the case. You can get vitamin D from nutritional supplements and from foods fortified in vitamin D. Additionally, from a dermatological perspective, food sources are better insofar as they don’t run the risk of sunburn etc. Of course, many foods nowadays are fortified, but you’d have to look at your own diet and assess how much of the vitamin you’re getting. Also factor that with your sunshine exposure, and you should have a good idea. There’s always the option to get tested for deficiency anyway if you’re unsure.

    Hope this answers your query.
    Sharon

Mick · 28/04/2020 at 10:23 AM

Sharon, some great advice here.

Like you say vitamin D deficiency is with a lot of us and the older you get the more prone you are. A boost every now and then doesn’t go a miss. First signs are feeling tired all the time.

It can take years to come up with vaccines and so I find it a little strange that they are administering these already to UK volunteers.

Through research, it was found that Placebos worked in 3 out of 5 cases, which tells you its a state of mind. Control the mind and you control the body!

Energy healing does it for me through Reiki.

A change of lifestyle and eating the correct food as to be key here.

Great post and thank you for sharing

Mick

    Sharon · 28/04/2020 at 8:15 PM

    Hi Mick,

    Thanks so much! You are spot on with that, I’ve heard of many people experiencing fatigue and tiredness as a result of vitamin D deficiency.

    It’s frightening but also fascinating how the body can respond and recover simply by believing a tablet can treat you. I watched a Netflix documentary on it recently, so it’s really interesting that you bring up those facts.

    The more natural you can keep it, the better in one sense.

    Thanks again,
    Sharon

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