A detailed comparison of the use of dietary supplements before and during the COVID-19 pandemic The use of dietary supplements before and during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Yonca Sevim


COVID-19, dietary supplements, immunity, nutrition, the coronavirus disease 2019


Background and aim: Considering the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the expectation that dietary supplements (DS) boost the immune system of individuals, the aim of this research was to evaluate the use of DS and related factors by comparing periods before and during the pandemic. Methods: A descriptive cross‑sectional internet-based study was conducted with 1488 participants from the general public aged above 19 years. Results: The median age of participants was 33.0 (19-69) years and 88% of participants were women. A total of 48.9% of participants (50.2% of females, 39.9% of males) used DS before COVID-19, and DS use during COVID-19 was reported to be 57.9% (58.6% of females, 52.8% males). Independent variables of DS use before and during COVID-19 were sex, age, body mass index (BMI), education, income, vitamin/mineral deficiency (VMD), alcohol use, and medication use. Participants who had no VMD used more DS, mostly herbal supplements such as grape seed, gotu kola, ginseng, ginkgo biloba and green tea. Vitamin D and C were the most commonly-used DS among participants with vitamin/mineral deficiency, followed by zinc and multivitamins. The main reason for DS use (47.2%) during COVID-19 was to strengthen immunity. Conclusions: The current findings may help to understand the preferences of individuals about DS use during pandemics. Understanding factors associated with the use of DS and their claimed immune-boosting effects may support future studies aiming to provide accurate information and motivate individuals towards healthy use of supplements during pandemics.

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