Supplements Won’t Protect You From COVID-19

Elderberry syrup? Vitamin C? If you’re looking for extra protection from the coronavirus, please put those back on the pharmacy shelf and go home and wash your hands. Yes, even if Doctor Oz just told you to buy them.

“Supplements have never been shown to beat coronavirus,” Dr. Oz said, correctly, on the Today Show. And then he inexplicably went on to recommend viewers take supplements including vitamins and elderberry syrup.

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There’s also a chain letter floating around that includes advice to take zinc lozenges to protect yourself from the coronavirus. Various influencers, some with medical credentials and some without, have been tweeting and Facebooking advice about vitamins or supplements or even specific diets as if they protect against the virus.

But the truth is, the evidence for each of these supplements to treat or prevent any condition is weak to nonexistent. Even Vitamin C doesn’t do much to prevent colds, despite its reputation as some kind of magic immune booster.

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When it comes to COVID-19, evidence of efficacy goes from questionable to completely absent. This virus was discovered barely three months ago; nobody has run any trials that would determine whether supplements will ward it off. (There are trials of antiviral drugs currently in the works, but that’s a whole other situation.)

The time and energy and money you’d spend shopping for supplements is a waste. Focus on the things that actually work, like washing your hands and looking out for others in your community.

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