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Modest effects of dietary supplements during the COVID-19 pandemic : Insights from 445 850 users of the COVID-19 Symptom Study app

Louca, Panayiotis ; Murray, Benjamin ; Klaser, Kerstin ; Graham, Mark S. ; Mazidi, Mohsen ; Leeming, Emily R. ; Thompson, Ellen ; Bowyer, Ruth ; Drew, David A. and Nguyen, Long H. , et al. (2021) In BMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health 4(1). p.149-157
Abstract

Objectives Dietary supplements may ameliorate SARS-CoV-2 infection, although scientific evidence to support such a role is lacking. We investigated whether users of the COVID-19 Symptom Study app who regularly took dietary supplements were less likely to test positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection. Design App-based community survey. Setting 445 850 subscribers of an app that was launched to enable self-reported information related to SARS-CoV-2 infection for use in the general population in the UK (n=372 720), the USA (n=45 757) and Sweden (n=27 373). Main exposure Self-reported regular dietary supplement usage (constant use during previous 3 months) in the first waves of the pandemic up to 31 July 2020. Main outcome measures SARS-CoV-2... (More)

Objectives Dietary supplements may ameliorate SARS-CoV-2 infection, although scientific evidence to support such a role is lacking. We investigated whether users of the COVID-19 Symptom Study app who regularly took dietary supplements were less likely to test positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection. Design App-based community survey. Setting 445 850 subscribers of an app that was launched to enable self-reported information related to SARS-CoV-2 infection for use in the general population in the UK (n=372 720), the USA (n=45 757) and Sweden (n=27 373). Main exposure Self-reported regular dietary supplement usage (constant use during previous 3 months) in the first waves of the pandemic up to 31 July 2020. Main outcome measures SARS-CoV-2 infection confirmed by viral RNA reverse transcriptase PCR test or serology test before 31 July 2020. Results In 372 720 UK participants (175 652 supplement users and 197 068 non-users), those taking probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, multivitamins or vitamin D had a lower risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection by 14% (95% CI (8% to 19%)), 12% (95% CI (8% to 16%)), 13% (95% CI (10% to 16%)) and 9% (95% CI (6% to 12%)), respectively, after adjusting for potential confounders. No effect was observed for those taking vitamin C, zinc or garlic supplements. On stratification by sex, age and body mass index (BMI), the protective associations in individuals taking probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, multivitamins and vitamin D were observed in females across all ages and BMI groups, but were not seen in men. The same overall pattern of association was observed in both the US and Swedish cohorts. Conclusion In women, we observed a modest but significant association between use of probiotics, omega-3 fatty acid, multivitamin or vitamin D supplements and lower risk of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2. We found no clear benefits for men nor any effect of vitamin C, garlic or zinc. Randomised controlled trials are required to confirm these observational findings before any therapeutic recommendations can be made.

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organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
COVID-19, nutritional treatment
in
BMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health
volume
4
issue
1
pages
9 pages
publisher
BMJ Publishing Group
external identifiers
  • pmid:34308122
  • scopus:85103031812
ISSN
2516-5542
DOI
10.1136/bmjnph-2021-000250
language
English
LU publication?
yes
additional info
Publisher Copyright: © 2021 BMJ Publishing Group. All rights reserved.
id
633d1f67-4269-4702-a997-1cbab01d74db
date added to LUP
2022-05-11 00:18:33
date last changed
2024-02-17 22:36:16
@article{633d1f67-4269-4702-a997-1cbab01d74db,
  abstract     = {{<p>Objectives Dietary supplements may ameliorate SARS-CoV-2 infection, although scientific evidence to support such a role is lacking. We investigated whether users of the COVID-19 Symptom Study app who regularly took dietary supplements were less likely to test positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection. Design App-based community survey. Setting 445 850 subscribers of an app that was launched to enable self-reported information related to SARS-CoV-2 infection for use in the general population in the UK (n=372 720), the USA (n=45 757) and Sweden (n=27 373). Main exposure Self-reported regular dietary supplement usage (constant use during previous 3 months) in the first waves of the pandemic up to 31 July 2020. Main outcome measures SARS-CoV-2 infection confirmed by viral RNA reverse transcriptase PCR test or serology test before 31 July 2020. Results In 372 720 UK participants (175 652 supplement users and 197 068 non-users), those taking probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, multivitamins or vitamin D had a lower risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection by 14% (95% CI (8% to 19%)), 12% (95% CI (8% to 16%)), 13% (95% CI (10% to 16%)) and 9% (95% CI (6% to 12%)), respectively, after adjusting for potential confounders. No effect was observed for those taking vitamin C, zinc or garlic supplements. On stratification by sex, age and body mass index (BMI), the protective associations in individuals taking probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, multivitamins and vitamin D were observed in females across all ages and BMI groups, but were not seen in men. The same overall pattern of association was observed in both the US and Swedish cohorts. Conclusion In women, we observed a modest but significant association between use of probiotics, omega-3 fatty acid, multivitamin or vitamin D supplements and lower risk of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2. We found no clear benefits for men nor any effect of vitamin C, garlic or zinc. Randomised controlled trials are required to confirm these observational findings before any therapeutic recommendations can be made. </p>}},
  author       = {{Louca, Panayiotis and Murray, Benjamin and Klaser, Kerstin and Graham, Mark S. and Mazidi, Mohsen and Leeming, Emily R. and Thompson, Ellen and Bowyer, Ruth and Drew, David A. and Nguyen, Long H. and Merino, Jordi and Gomez, Maria and Mompeo, Olatz and Costeira, Ricardo and Sudre, Carole H. and Gibson, Rachel and Steves, Claire J. and Wolf, Jonathan and Franks, Paul W. and Ourselin, Sebastien and Chan, Andrew T. and Berry, Sarah E. and Valdes, Ana M. and Calder, Philip C. and Spector, Tim D. and Menni, Cristina}},
  issn         = {{2516-5542}},
  keywords     = {{COVID-19; nutritional treatment}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  month        = {{06}},
  number       = {{1}},
  pages        = {{149--157}},
  publisher    = {{BMJ Publishing Group}},
  series       = {{BMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health}},
  title        = {{Modest effects of dietary supplements during the COVID-19 pandemic : Insights from 445 850 users of the COVID-19 Symptom Study app}},
  url          = {{http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjnph-2021-000250}},
  doi          = {{10.1136/bmjnph-2021-000250}},
  volume       = {{4}},
  year         = {{2021}},
}