Experts: No proof supplements prevent, cure Covid-19

GEORGE TOWN: Despite the fondness of Malaysians for health supplements, medical experts say there is no evidence to indicate they can prevent or cure Covid-19.

“People can take supplements as long as they feel good about it and the supplements are not detrimental to their health,” said Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) family medicine specialist Dr Mastura Mohd Sopian.

“But so far, there is no evidence to prove that they can prevent or cure Covid-19,” she added.

Dr Mastura also said the public must practise caution when it comes to supplements.

“It is best to get your supplements from authorised pharmacies or trusted companies to ensure they are approved by the health authorities.

“Those with medical conditions or illnesses are advised to consult their doctor first because taking supplements carries some risks.

“There are possible side effects, toxicity and interaction with drugs, food and alcohol,” she added.

Dr Mastura said evidence shows there are certain supplements that enhance a person’s health.

“Calcium supports bone health, vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, while Vitamins C and E are antioxidants that prevent cell damage caused by free radicals,” she added.

She said elderly people, pregnant and lactating mothers, children and those in poor health could consider taking such supplements.

USM Institute for Research in Molecular Medicine lecturer Assoc Prof Dr Venugopal Balakrishnan said that supplements might help the immune system fight off Covid-19 and other viruses.

He stressed that people taking medication for ailments like diabetes or high blood pressure should consult their doctor before consuming supplements.

“Their medication might react badly with some supplements,” he explained.

But for those who are generally healthy, Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun infectious diseases physician Dr Steven Lim Chee Loon said they can get all the necessary vitamins and minerals with a healthy and balanced diet.

Dr Lim said health supplements are only needed in small amounts, adding that an “overzealous intake” could cause more harm than good.

He said supplements could be used to fill in nutritional gaps in one’s diet and be beneficial for certain groups of people, such as the elderly, pregnant women, vegans and people diagnosed with chronic diseases like osteoporosis and iron deficiency or anaemia.

“For young and healthy individuals, indications that call for health supplements are less clear,” he added.

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