COVID-19 Preventative Medication Options
We often get asked by our patients what they can do as preventative care once they test positive for the COVID-19 virus. While there are many different options and theories out there if you search it yourself, we wanted to give you some perspective from the medication experts……..our Clinical Pharmacists.
While there is no cure or “Magic-Bullet” for COVID-19, recently, a number of medications have shown great promise for both the prevention of this disease including Vitamin D, Vitamin C, quercetin, melatonin, and zinc.
It is likely that no single drug will be effective in treating this complex disease and that multiple drugs with different mechanisms of action used in specific phases of the disease will be required. Furthermore, a growing body of evidence suggests that any of these agents may act synergistically in various phases of the disease.
While vaccination is part of the solution, it will take many months if not years to vaccinate the world’s population of 7.8 billion people required for “herd immunity”. So let’s discuss some of the options we have today for preventative care with COVID-19.
Preventative Supplement Options
Recent literature has noted that Vitamin D deficiency is often seen in severe cases of COVID-19 infection. Vitamin-D receptors are found on our immune cells, therefore it is hypothesized if you are deficient in Vitamin D it may increase your risk of getting COVID-19 and increase your mortality once you become infected. Several recent studies have shown that people with low levels of vitamin D are more likely to test positive for the virus than those with normal levels.
Most people get some vitamin D from sunlight exposure, although individuals in the US get the nutrient mainly from fortified foods, such as milk, orange juice, and breakfast cereals. Vitamin D supplementation is generally safe and any potential toxicity would likely be strongly outweighed by any potential benefits in relation to protection from COVID-19.
When taking vitamin D supplements, 400-1000 IU daily typically results in adequate vitamin D levels for most people. A simple blood draw will determine your specific Vitamin D deficiency, you just need your healthcare provider to place the order. We caution against taking higher doses unless you know your level, as there are some risks with taking too much vitamin D if your levels are already adequate.
Vitamin C is a crucial vitamin necessary for the correct functioning of the immune system. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is thought to have beneficial effects in patients with severe and critical illnesses. It is an antioxidant and free radical scavenger that has anti-inflammatory properties and influences cellular immunity.
It is understood that COVID-19 creates a cytokine storm, which ultimately leads to difficulties in managing the infection. As a key antioxidant, Vitamin C, has been shown to decrease the production of cytokines.
Daily vitamin C from food or supplements is enough to support healthy immunity. When taking Vitamin C for immune protection we recommend taking buffered or enteric coated products to help increase the absorption from the GI tract and reduce GI upset. Liposomal Vitamin C is also an option and is a readily available dosage form that has shown improved absorption compared to traditional Vitamin C tablets.
Quercetin is a well-known flavonoid found naturally in apples and onions, whose anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties have been investigated in numerous studies. In regards to COVID-19 prevention, researchers are postulating that vitamin C should be administered with quercetin because it can recycle oxidized quercetin, producing a synergistic effect and enhancing quercetin's antiviral capability. Quercetin also plays a role in facilitating zinc transportation across lipid membranes.
The relationship between zinc and COVID-19, including how zinc deficiency affects the severity of COVID-19 and whether zinc supplements can improve clinical outcomes, is currently under investigation. It’s important to avoid zinc nasal products due to potential for permanent loss of smell. It’s extremely important to caution against excessive zinc intake as it can lead to copper deficiency which can cause anemia. There are zinc products that also contain copper to help prevent this like our Zinc Balance. Products vary in their zinc content, so it’s important to check labeling for dose recommendations and maximums.
Results from a new Cleveland Clinic-led study suggest that melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and is commonly used as an over-the-counter sleep aid, may be a viable treatment option for COVID-19. It’s suspected that the COVID-19 infection may attack the melatonin synthetic pathway resulting in reduced melatonin levels at a time when melatonin is most needed. Melatonin is a potent antioxidant and immune regulator that not only suppresses oxidative stress but also controls the innate immune response and promotes the adaptive immune response.
While all of these supplements are great options for preventative care secondary to COVID-19, it’s also important to be sure you are getting quality supplements from verified sources. PillBoxTalk has partnered with Wellevate professional line supplements that are verified from the source. Our Clinical Pharmacists, are able to help you select the right supplement and dose based on your existing personal health and medication regimen. Click on our shop to purchase quality supplements and support our non-profit.
Along with supplemental medications, the best defense we have against COVID-19 right now is making sure we continue to follow social distancing and general hygiene procedures. We get it, it’s frustrating having to wear a mask but until we are able to get a handle on this pandemic it’s the easiest and most cost effective way to advocate for your health.