Media Bungles COVID-19 Prevention

April 23, 2020

…by once again telling us supplements are useless. This irresponsible reporting has to stop. Action Alert!

Mainstream media outlets have come out swinging at the idea that supplements can help you during the COVID-19 pandemic. The takeaway from these articles is that there isn’t anything we can do to protect ourselves until a pharmaceutical intervention is developed. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

A BBC article makes much out of claims that cayenne pepper, green tea, kombucha, and, most bizarre of all, masturbation, can “boost” immunity” and provide protection against COVID-19. “Unfortunately,” the author concludes, “the idea that pills, trendy superfoods or wellness habits can provide a shortcut to a healthy immune system is a myth.” Similarly, a New York Times headline reads: Supplements for Coronavirus Probably Won’t Help, and May Harm.

A key contention made by the BBC article is that supplementing isn’t helpful unless you have a deficiency. The article asserts that most people in the “developed” world get most of the essential vitamins and minerals from their diet, but this is simply false. Consider that 92% of Americans have a vitamin deficiency. Large studies have confirmed that most Americans are lacking in important micronutrients. A national survey of over 16,000 people found high percentages of Americans were not meeting the estimated average requirements (EARs)– the intake level for a nutrient at which the needs of 50 percent of the population will be met. Crucially, the survey found that almost 95% of Americans did not meet the EAR for vitamin D.

Studies have shown that the immune system relies on micronutrients, and that supplements can help deliver these nutrients. One study compared supplementation consisting of multivitamins alone, vitamin A alone, or both with placebo in women in Tanzania, Africa who had HIV infection. The study found that women who received the multivitamin were less likely to progress to advanced stages of HIV disease. A review article found that micronutrient inadequacies can result in a reduced ability to fight infections and impaired cognitive function. Other research shows that micronutrient inadequacies may impact long-term health, increasing risk for chronic diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes—which are comorbidities for COVID-19.

Practitioners of natural medicine understand this and advise patients to address their particular deficiencies with proper supplementation. This sensible advice runs against a pervasive media narrative that claims nutritional “silver bullets” don’t work, mock supplements, and tell us they’re useless.

There are a number of other points brought up by these articles that should be addressed:

  • The BBC article describes the vitamin C market as a “racket.” This view isn’t shared by the scientists and researchers who are studying the use of vitamin C in combination with other supplements for the treatment of COVID-19—there are in fact ten clinical trials looking at vitamin C’s efficacy as a treatment for COVID-19; intravenous vitamin C is also being used in New York hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients.
  • The NYT article calls out colloidal silver, but there is evidence for silver’s effect on bacteria and even viruses.
  • The BBC article highlights green tea as an outlandish example of natural health advice. Yet a compound found in green tea, epigallocatechin-gallate (EGCG) enhances the entry of zinc into cells, much like the highly touted drug chloroquine. Quercetin is another natural compound that helps zinc enter cells. Experts say zinc has been proven to be effective in blocking coronavirus replication.

Our COVID-19 page lists many other supplements that can be helpful for prevention and treatment during this pandemic.

The author of the BBC piece seems to fundamentally misunderstand—or be uninterested in understanding—a functional medicine approach to rejuvenating immunity, writing that you wouldn’t want to strengthen or “boost” certain immune responses, like a fever or mucus production. But the point made by functional medicine experts is that the immune systems of many people are not operating at full capacity because of a lack of micronutrients, environmental exposures, and many other factors. The point is to correct these many imbalances so the body’s natural defenses can do their work—not to send these processes into overdrive so we have more mucus or a higher fever. (Note though that some supplements do in fact support the activity of natural killer cells and T cells.)

Our environment, our diet, exercise, how much sleep we get, genetics, and many other factors help determine the strength of our body’s defense against viruses and other stressors. Ensuring that we have optimized our levels of a variety of vitamins and minerals is one aspect of shoring up our immune defenses against viral infection. To suggest otherwise is to compromise our health and keep us in a system that treats sick people rather than maintaining healthy people. Mainstream journalists have long made a punching bag out of supplements and natural health, but the stakes are much higher during this pandemic. It is irresponsible to tell people that supplements can’t help, particularly at a time when people should be empowered to take proactive steps to protect their health.

Action Alert! Write to the NYT and BBC editorial boards, telling them to issue corrections to these factually inaccurate articles. Please send your message immediately.

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30 responses to “Media Bungles COVID-19 Prevention”

  1. Jessica Rollins says:

    Our environment, our diet, exercise, how much sleep we get, genetics, and many other factors help determine the strength of our body’s defense against viruses and other stressors. Ensuring that we have optimized our levels of a variety of vitamins and minerals is one aspect of shoring up our immune defenses against viral infection. To suggest otherwise is to compromise our health and keep us in a system that treats sick people rather than maintaining healthy people. Mainstream journalists have long made a punching bag out of supplements and natural health, but the stakes are much higher during this pandemic. It is irresponsible to tell people that supplements can’t help, particularly at a time when people should be empowered to take proactive steps to protect their health.

  2. Barbara Van Dusen says:

    Nutritional supplements saved my life from 2 serios illnesses either on their own or complementary to mainstream medicine. Please protect our right to use them. Thank you.

  3. tracy says:

    Just because supplements alone wont vanquish Covid or other invading microorganisms doesnt mean they arent doing something. A truly healthy body will not get sick, or at least will recover quickly. These various supplements gently help the body to be its best, but over time. Obviously getting sick and then shoving supplements in will be too late. But they can be helpful, and are a valid asset to a healthy body and dont deserve to be dismissed out of hand,

  4. Brenda S Wolfe says:

    The media has got to quit letting pharmaceutical companies do their reporting for them. And since pharmaceutical companies can’t make money off of natural products they won’t allow it to be reported or taught in med schools. This kind of control and irresponsible reporting has got to change. I thought that’s what the antimonopoly laws were about.

  5. mark adams says:

    good article but cant seem to get the letter to send

  6. Tom says:

    I will always trust vitamins and minerals and other supplements before I trust anything coming from Big Pharma. And I never watch the news or pay attention to the fake news media.

  7. Jerri Johnson says:

    Ultimately it is our immune system that defeats any bacteria or virus. Strengthening our immune system and general health can make the difference between whehter a person is in the 80% that overcome the virus on their own, or in the minority that has serious difficulty.

  8. I use a great many supplements including collagen, vit A, D3, E , B1, C, a multi vitamin, zinc and mushrooms. My joints are less painful, my head is clearer and I have more energy. Sure beats der trumplers recommendations. Does not seem to do any harm and my fingernails are lovely now. Even if all it does is make me feel like I’m taking action agin the virus , it does no harm thus is in my self interest. Your coverage is reprehensible.

  9. Rachel deAragon says:

    Supplements help build up[ our strength, and our immune system. This is neither a secret nor news. When we are told officially to treat mild cases like the flu, then indeed supplements are what is in order! To run counter to fifty years of scientific and medical advisement regarding keeping our immune systems strong during {“flu season” and go out of the way to tell people not to build up their immune systems in response to covid -19 is not only wrong , it seems deeply ingenuous!

  10. Patricia Chambers says:

    Actually I find Fox News to be the main culprit and it’s costing lives. Shame on them. They should be sued for promoting harmful promotion of a drug that has not been proven to help at all.

  11. Frank Harper says:

    As a hospital nurse for almost 30 years I tried antibiotics & the flu shot & was bullied into taking the hepatitis B vaccine around 1990 to 1992 & then I started getting colds frequently! So I increased Vitamin C started taking colloidal silver & increasing other health supplements to be healthier! These have helped me to be stronger & not lose muscle mass as I went pass 50. The main stream media & TV have consistently had the worst & most slanted health & sickness information there is for decades!

  12. Sidney Cohen says:

    What a shame!

  13. Robert F says:

    Lying media? What a surprise! 😉 For decades the media had been whores selling themselves for advertising pounds and dollars, so these two “articles’ come as yet another example.
    Stop watching / reading this crap. I’ve done it long time ago.

  14. Michelle Badten says:

    Consider that 92% of Americans have a vitamin deficiency. Large studies have confirmed that most Americans are lacking in important micronutrients. A national survey of over 16,000 people found high percentages of Americans were not meeting the estimated average requirements (EARs)– the intake level for a nutrient at which the needs of 50 percent of the population will be met. Crucially, the survey found that almost 95% of Americans did not meet the EAR for vitamin D.

    Studies have shown that the immune system relies on micronutrients, and that supplements can help deliver these nutrients

  15. Ira Russack says:

    People are waking up . Becoming more knowlegable of the benefits of eating clean non GMO organic food . Supplementing with high quality supplements and super foods – not made in China . We who see the truth are a growing community . The proof is obvious in the fact the mostly those who have died from the corona virus has compromised imune systems , were on prescription drugs , put their faith in taking drugs oposed to vitamins , clean healthy foods , took responsibility to maintain a healthy lifestyle . We already have the proof ….

  16. Robert Boettcher says:

    There are really good non prescription drugs to help people in times like this

  17. Rossen Vassilev Jr. says:

    Please issue corrections to these factually inaccurate articles:

    *The BBC article describes the vitamin C market as a “racket.” This view isn’t shared by the scientists and researchers who are studying the use of vitamin C in combination with other supplements for the treatment of COVID-19—there are in fact ten clinical trials looking at vitamin C’s efficacy as a treatment for COVID-19; intravenous vitamin C is also being used in New York hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients.
    *The NYT article calls out colloidal silver, but there is evidence for silver’s effect on bacteria and even viruses.
    *The BBC article highlights green tea as an outlandish example of natural health advice. Yet a compound found in green tea, epigallocatechin-gallate (EGCG) enhances the entry of zinc into cells, much like the highly touted drug chloroquine. Quercetin is another natural compound that helps zinc enter cells. Experts say zinc has been proven to be effective in blocking coronavirus replication.

  18. Robert Meyer says:

    Don’t spread false information.

  19. charlotte johnson says:

    I strongly agree with you article; I am 75 years old and a vegetarian for over45 years. I am not on any prescription drugs and I use supplements, herbs, superfoods, and a healthy diet. There are definitely various herbs, foods and supplements that strengthen the immune system and fight most major deseases and viral infections. It is quite unfortunate that many people are not aware of this.Than you for the work that you do. may God bless you!

  20. hiroko Inami says:

    Our environment, our diet, exercise, how much sleep we get, genetics, and many other factors help determine the strength of our body’s defense against viruses and other stressors. It is irresponsible to tell people that supplements can’t help, particularly at a time when people should be empowered to take proactive steps to protect their health. WITH A FEW EXCEPTIONS, SUPPLEMENTS CLEARLY CAN HELP TO STRENGTHEN AND AUGMENT THE IMMUNE SYSTEM!

  21. Larry Trainor says:

    It would be interesting to access the New England or British Journal of Medicines to locate literature on how supplements help. The medical “authority” may not recognize the value but I’m sure their own literature does. I wish I knew someone familiar with and has access to these documents for the last 80 years. I wonder if they each have online search functions.

  22. Connie Dresser says:

    Thank you for going against the tide and making the moral judgement needed.

  23. Michael Gannon says:

    92% of Americans have a vitamin deficiency. Large studies have confirmed that most Americans are lacking in important micronutrients. A national survey of over 16,000 people found high percentages of Americans were not meeting the estimated average requirements (EARs)– the intake level for a nutrient at which the needs of 50 percent of the population will be met. Crucially, the survey found that almost 95% of Americans did not meet the EAR for vitamin D.

    Your article is very biased! Try some old fashioned journalism and investigate!!

  24. Woof woof! One righteously outraged American says:

    It seems to me that trolls have been recruited by BigPharma and Mr Dr Bill Gates, who has no medical license. This is unbelievably unethical.
    Let’s connect the dots. FDA blocks hand sanitizer during a declared world pandemic when we are ordered to stay home and wash hands. FDA red tapes approval of testing. FDA says do Not wear masks, until quite recently. Trolls write articles saying don’t take supplements, and there is no mainstream medical help either. Just suffer unaided, wash hands at home, we can’t help you. Despite “limit one per person” both online and in stores, bath tissue and tissues have vanished from the shelves. Fear, fear is screamed all over the headlines but where are the hospital ships? They exist, after all. So what are we supposed to conclude? I have by the way, never thought this way before. At this point, I think there is a motive in wanting us all to be sick, so they can come in with their mandated vaccines while the frightened, suffering people beg for it on their knees.
    The purpose of those articles seems to be to keep people suffering so they think the only solution lies in the vaccines. It is not true. There is science in holistic medicine nowadays, and it is known about body chemistry, functions, body systems, receptor sites, much more….in relation to almost every herb and almost every nutritional supplement. So what is the matter with these folks? These are evil people with no conscience and no remorse. The state of affairs is just not funny. Dictatorship is here, present, not just one hair’s breadth away. We must take action before the noose closes around our necks completely and all ability to do something about it, is lost. Lawsuits will get media attention, let’s get to work. Recruit major businesses who have lost business, to do the job. Call hospitals and ask them to use IV Vit C. Please. Now! Thank you all.

  25. Kendra says:

    92% of Americans do not get all of their vitemin and mineral needs met from their food. The soil on factory farms is depleted and most Americans have terrible diets. I myself have been a vegetarian for 38 years and still need to take supplements. That said, I have not had the flu or a serious reseritory infenction for over 10 years because I have been taking several immune boosting supplements consistently. Anytime that I feel a cold might be coming on I double up and avoid getting sick enough to stay home in normal times. These are not normal times. Stop lumping perfectly good supplements like vitemin C, Rieshi mushroom and bee propolis in with crazy ideas like masturbation.

  26. Susan Welsford says:

    Tell us facts, or tell us nothing! Stop spreading disinformation!

  27. Kayan says:

    The mainstream media have not come out and said that there isn’t anything we can do to protect ourselves what they are saying is that even with supplements and vitamins you can still get COVIN-19. Yes, building up your immune system can help fight off the virus but I do not think that supplements and vitamins can cure it. However, if someone has an underline problem these things cannot do much more them help them fight it still can kill them without a vaccine. If it was so easy to cure and help those who are suffering from this virus then there would not be so many deaths!

  28. Donna Rader says:

    NYT and BBC editorial boards issue corrections to factually inaccurate articles

  29. A Concerned American says:

    The media should be advised that the dictatorship which they are fueling forward, and the agenda for strong chemical isolates dubbed as “medicine” which may cause severe side effects, is the governing body which will affect them, too. “It will never happen to me” is a big illusion, and a false dangling carrot. Time for a think.

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