The COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed a flood of clinical trials on dietary supplements, as researchers race to evaluate nutritional products that may help to fend off one of the deadliest viruses the world has seen in modern times.

The University associated with Michigan’s Mark Moyad, M. D., Meters. P. H., considered to be one of the particular leading global medical authorities on dietary supplements, says today’s high level of interest and research on supplements is unprecedented in his 30-year career as a public health educator and clinical/medical epidemiologist.

“We’ve gone from famine in order to feast because of the COVID-19 pandemic, ” Moyad said. “By last count, there were several hundred ongoing clinical trials on supplements. ”

Moyad holds an endowed position as the Jenkins/Pokempner Director of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Education in U-M’s Urology Department. His endowment was funded plus created within 1998-99, shortly after he joined the The state of michigan Medical School staff. It was one associated with the first of its kind, established globally at a major medical center to advance research and objective education upon dietary supplements, over-the-counter items, and other potential health options.

Fast track

Moyad says that the vitamin and dietary supplement manufacturing industry has grown exponentially over the past three decades. Today, nutrition is a $35-billion industry in the United States and the nearly $120-billion industry worldwide.

American consumers shell out upwards of $46 billion annually on vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, enzymes, and other OTC products, including many made overseas. Some of the most popular supplements are multivitamins, digestive enzymes, melatonin, nutritional vitamins A, B, C, D, E, plus K, calcium and zinc.

“When I was in my 20s, there were hundreds of supplement products sold over the counter, ” Moyad said. “Now I’m in my late 50s, and there are more than 100, 000 OTC items. It is 1 of the biggest and fastest-growing areas in medicine. ”

For years, many practitioners in the particular traditional medical community have viewed the loosely regulated supplement business with skepticism. That perception is gradually changing, according to Moyad, as the particular supplement market begins to embrace a multiphase product-development process.

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“Some of the current COVID-inspired medical trials on supplements are methodologically sound, ” he said. “We can achieve a threshold of efficacy, or proof, that is similar to what you see inside the pharmaceutical industry. We’re definitely moving in that direction. ”

He cites the particular recent results of the Harvard-affiliated VITAL study, which demonstrated the possible of moderate daily dosages of supplement D3 (2, 000 IU) supplements or even fish oil (1, 500 mg) in order to reduce the risk of autoimmune diseases compared to a placebo in more than 25, 000 participants.

Supplements and COVID-19

Medical researchers are now conducting outpatient and inpatient studies in order to determine whether specific supplements will enable healthy individuals to ward off COVID-19 and assist patients with severe illness shorten their stay in the hospital.

Preliminary results seem to suggest that will supplements might be more effective in improving immunity plus lessening the chances of contracting COVID than in speeding the particular recovery associated with very sick individuals.

“COVID-19 will be a highly specific disease that has required highly specific FDA-approved vaccines and antiviral drugs to stop it, ” Moyad said. “It’s like a lock and key. I don’t think you are going to get that kind of specificity from taking supplements once someone offers been hospitalized with severe COVID. ”

One inpatient study conducted in Brazil compared the recovery rates between COVID-19 patients who received a single dose associated with 200, 500 IU of vitamin Deb and those who were given a placebo. Early results indicated the high dose associated with vitamin M did not reduce the length of hospitalization.

“I’m most excited about the outpatient trials that are looking at regardless of whether supplements can help reduce people’s risk of contracting COVID or when someone has a mild case, to help prevent progression of symptoms and avoid hospitalization, ” Moyad said.

Going to trial

Two major U. S. studies on dietary supplements may provide some answers.

For a single study, Harvard Medical School is collaborating with major medical institutions and sector partners upon the Vitamin D and COVID-19 Trial (VIVID). Clinical researchers are investigating whether taking a daily health supplement of vitamin D for four weeks reduces the disease severity inside participants who are newly diagnosed with COVID-19 plus lowers the chance of transmission to other members of their household. The particular national randomized clinical test involves 2, 700 men and women who are usually given either a high dose associated with vitamin D3 (9, 600 IU per day on days one to two and 3, 200 IU each day on times three-28) or a placebo.

A second high-profile COVID clinical demo, being carried out by Mayo Clinic, is usually comparing the effect of high-dose (69. 6 mg per day) zinc supplementation versus multivitamin supplementation on immune health in 2, 700 people who are at high risk for COVID -19, which includes health-care workers. Participants randomly receive PreserVision AREDS formulation gel tabs (which contain a high level of zinc) or Adult (under 50) Centrum formulation multi-vitamins.

A third promising inquiry, taking place in the United Kingdom, is the particular ELVIS COVID-19 study in the University of Edinburgh. There, experts are exploring whether the saline solution for nasal washes plus gargling which provides been found to shorten the

duration from the common cold can lessen the symptoms and length of the COVID-19 sickness. Up in order to 30 percent associated with colds are caused by four different coronaviruses, and COVID is definitely caused by a separate member of the same coronavirus family, so they share some similarities plus differences.

Closer to home, Moyad, with the particular help of generous donors, has established an endowment along with the eventual goal associated with increasing study funding for Michigan healthcare students and faculty that are interested in conducting research on lifestyle and health supplements. He also collaborates with other main universities on clinical tests.

Back to basics

Until more clinical data are available, medical researchers will not know conclusively which supplements, if any, are effective against COVID-19.

In the meantime, Moyad cautions people about becoming too enamored with pills.

Instead, this individual urges everyone to “get back to the basics” of a healthy lifestyle. This entails monitoring and enhancing the “5Bs”: blood cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, and BMI/belly fat (aka healthy weight/waist loss). He also emphasizes the importance of immune boosting (the fifth B) by staying up to date on all vaccinations, including those for COVID-19.

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“What we’ve learned in the pandemic is that making lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease could, in some cases, mean the difference between a mild and severe case of COVID-19, ” Moyad said. “Many things that are heart-healthy also improve your immune health. ”

For example , a 2021 Kaiser Permanente study of nearly 50, 000 people with COVID-19 suggested regular physical activity provided strong protection through hospitalization, intensive-care-unit admission plus death. Sedentary individuals, on the other hand, had poor outcomes from COVID during the pandemic.

Likewise, a 2022 Cleveland Clinic study showed that patients with obesity who experienced undergone weight-loss surgery and shed excess pounds were able to reduce their risk with regard to developing severe COVID-19 complications by 60%.

“There’s no magic supplement, ” Moyad said. “But maintaining a healthy lifestyle can provide some protection and furthermore pay off simply by keeping you out of the hospital for some other reasons. ”

This article was originally published by Michigan Today.

This article was additionally reviewed by Ridhima Kodali.

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