On a day-to-day basis, keeping COVID at bay typically comes down to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) golden rules: wearing a face mask, social distancing, and regularly washing or sanitizing your hands. But as the pandemic has progressed, scientists have done more research to gain a better understanding of different ways to treat or lessen the risk of infection, including certain vitamins that could give your body a defense boost. Now, a new study published in the journal PLOS Biology has found that you can add melatonin to the list of supplements that could help prevent COVID. Read on to see what melatonin can do for you, and for what you don’t need to be doing to keep yourself safe, check out The One Thing You Can Stop Doing to Avoid COVID, According to Doctors.
Through the use of artificial intelligence, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic were able to sort through data on over 27,000 patients in a COVID-19 registry to find any commonalities. Interestingly, results showed that those who regularly took the sleep hormone melatonin were about 28 percent less likely to test positive for COVID—with Black patients showing an even greater reduced likelihood of 52 percent.
“When we got this result, we were very excited,” Feixiong Cheng, PhD, lead researcher from the Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute, told local CBS affiliate KIRO 7. “If our findings can help the patients, that’s our goal and mission—and at the Cleveland Clinic as well.”
The researchers admit that they don’t entirely understand what “exact mechanisms” about melatonin provide extra protection against COVID, including whether or not it’s because patients are sleeping better, longer hours, the New York Post reports. And Cheng and his team also cautioned people against filling up on melatonin based on the study’s results. “It is very important to note these findings do not suggest people should start to take melatonin without consulting their physician,” Cheng said in a November statement upon the study’s release. “Large-scale observational studies and randomized controlled trials are critical to validate the clinical benefit of melatonin for patients with COVID-19, but we are excited about the associations put forth in this study and the opportunity to further explore them.”
Despite that cautiously optimistic stance, other research has found that melatonin may do more than just prevent COVID, too. A recent study from the University of Toronto published in the journal Diseases found that melatonin could help boost the efficacy of the coronavirus vaccine, calling it a potential “silver bullet” in the fight against the pandemic.
If you ever need an excuse to take advantage of an oyster dinner, this might just be it. A Spanish study from March and April found that patients who had higher levels of zinc in their blood were more likely to survive the disease than those who had much lower levels.
When it comes to protection against the virus, there’s mounting evidence that vitamin D can play a huge part in keeping you safe from even getting sick. One study, published in September in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that having a vitamin D deficiency increases your risk of testing positive for the coronavirus by nearly 80 percent.
Vitamin C is well known for boosting your immune system, but it could also be helpful in keeping you safe from COVID. According to researchers at Augusta University in Georgia, a meta-analysis of more than 30 other studies on the long-trumpeted immune-boosting effects of vitamin C shows that it appears to be lacking in many patients who develop serious cases of COVID-19.
It’s also important to remember that you can get your daily dose of vitamin C without making a trip to the supplement aisle. Loading up on citrus fruits, tomatoes, leafy greens, peppers, and more can help you stave off COVID and other ailments, including the flu and common colds. And for more regular updates on the pandemic, sign up for our daily newsletter.
While vitamin B has not been proven to have a direct effect on coronavirus, it’s widely known that it does a lot to help keep your immune system in great shape. One study on the link between COVID and vitamin B found that it “assists in proper activation of both the innate and adaptive immune responses, reduces pro-inflammatory cytokine levels, improves respiratory function, maintains endothelial integrity, prevents hypercoagulability and can reduce the length of stay in hospital.” Because of this, the study suggests that a COVID patient’s vitamin B levels should be assessed along with their vitamin D status. And for more on what could lead to a bad case of the coronavirus, check out If You Have This Blood Type, You’re at a High Risk of Severe COVID.