The Role of Nutrition and Supplements in Managing Chronic Fatigue Post-COVID

May 26, 2021 | Desiree Ahrens | @ahrensdesiree | Comments (14)

Posted on behalf of Dr. Bala Munipalli, M.D., from the Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID (PASC) Clinic at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville.

We have known for many years that nutrition is linked to immunity and severity of infections. People who are not well-nourished are at higher risk for infections. Chronic and severe infections can cause people to not have enough vitamins, minerals, or other important nutrients they need.   People with diabetes, hypertension, older age, and cancer tend to have more severe COVID-19 infection and are more likely to have long-term problems from COVID-19 (Zheng, et al, 2020).

For those reasons, it is important to eat healthy.  A healthy diet includes lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes (beans), and nuts, and moderate amounts of fish, dairy, and poultry (chicken, turkey). It also encourages people to limit red and processed meats, refined carbohydrates, and sugar.  By eating this way, the body gets all the vitamins and minerals along with the protein, fats, carbohydrates it needs to help recover from COVID-19.

Many people have read or heard about supplements being recommended for managing acute (short term) symptoms of COVID-19 (vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics) (12).   This comes from research done to look at the use of these nutrients in acute respiratory infections.  We have seen the benefit of using supplements in older people who often do not have enough of these vitamins and minerals because of chronic health conditions, changes in appetite, or limited access to healthy foods.

We may see that limited access to healthy foods, or the cost of healthy foods, makes having a healthy diet even more difficult. Surveys have shown that most people in the U. S. do not eat the types or amounts of food that meet national guidelines.

Currently there are no studies that show a definite benefit for people to take vitamin or mineral supplement to help reduce the effects of COVID-19 either short or long-term.  For that reason, it is important for people to practice good nutrition when they can.  If people are unable to get enough vitamins and minerals through food, then and only then, they may want to consider a multivitamin and Vitamin D3 (1000 IU) to take every day. Older people, black individuals, smokers, and people with autoimmune disorders may often not have enough Vitamin D. Vitamin D may help because it reduces the levels of a certain enzyme, which is thought to be a way for the COVID virus to get into the body.

To discuss with others Post-COVID Syndrome, join our discussion group.

References

Bland, J. The Long Haul of COVID-19 Recovery: Immune Rejuvenation versus Immune Support. Integrative Medicine. 2020; 19 (6):18-22.

Myhill, S, Booth, NE, McLaren-Howard, J. Chronic fatigue syndrome and mitochondrial dysfunction. Int J Clin Exp Med. 2009;2(1):1-16.

Thomas, L. Some nutritional supplements may help prevent or mitigate COVID-19 severity. News Medical Life Sciences. 2020.

Zheng, Y, Liu, X, Le, W, et al. A human circulating immune cell landscape in aging and COVID-19. Protein Cell. 2020;; 11(10):740-770.

Article by Dr. Bala Munipalli, M.D., from the Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID (PASC) Clinic at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville.

 

Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Post-COVID Recovery blog.

Besides the unusual fatigue, is anyone else still feeling very feverish, but doesn't actually have a fever? The body aches and pains and the feverish feelings are too much to handle for an entire month now. I wish I knew what would help me. I am already taking Zinc and Vitamin D3 (allowed daily limits of both).

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I was struggling with aches and pains for months after having covid. I had heard the vaccine might help clear up remaining symptoms and can confirm that was true for me. I had my second vaccine a month ago and feel back to normal.

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Hello @heathernico22 and @betsyk1021 and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Thank you both for joining the discussion to share your experiences and to connect with members.

@betsyk1021 brings up a good point so thought I would share some information on vaccines improving symptoms.

– Can a COVID-19 Vaccine Improve Symptoms for People with Long Covid?
https://www.healthline.com/health-news/can-a-covid-19-vaccine-improve-symptoms-for-people-with-long-covid#Science-behind-vaccine-effects-on-long-COVID-not-clear
@heathernico22 had you hear of this before?
@betsyk1021 how long after your second vaccine did you start to notice improvement in your symptoms?

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I would say I felt better just over 2 weeks after my first vaccine. Shortly after my second, the aches and pains started again but I assume it was in response to the vaccine. They went away again just over 2 weeks after my second vaccine as well.

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@betsyk1021

I would say I felt better just over 2 weeks after my first vaccine. Shortly after my second, the aches and pains started again but I assume it was in response to the vaccine. They went away again just over 2 weeks after my second vaccine as well.

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@betsyk1021– This is so wonderful to hear!

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Update for me…… I am finally fully-vaccinated and feeling "normal" again. After my first vaccine shot, the feverish feelings went away within a day or two and now that I have received my second dose, I had a low-grade fever and some aches the first night, but that was it. All of my COVID symptoms are gone! I have to believe the vaccine is what kicked the remaining symptoms for me. Thank you for the feedback and information.

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@heathernico22

Update for me…… I am finally fully-vaccinated and feeling "normal" again. After my first vaccine shot, the feverish feelings went away within a day or two and now that I have received my second dose, I had a low-grade fever and some aches the first night, but that was it. All of my COVID symptoms are gone! I have to believe the vaccine is what kicked the remaining symptoms for me. Thank you for the feedback and information.

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So great to get this update Heather. I have heard this in other people too. Congrats on being fully vaccinated for yourself and others.

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One of my lingering symptoms from covid-19 is not only loss of taste and smell, but also changes in that certain foods smell or taste horrible. For me, this includes whole wheat foods, rice and other grains, bananas, poultry, fish, almonds and other nuts. It is a real challenge to eat healthy, as processed white flour is palatable. I try to listen to my body and temper that with good nutritional sense, and find something that I can eat. I do regularly take supplements.

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I am a healthy 54-year-old woman and was pretty active before Covid, lifting weights or running everyday. I had a pretty severe case of COVID-19 in January, nearly ended up in the hospital, and then I acquired covid pneumonia. Post Covid syndrome has affected me ever since January.
My doctor cleared me for the vaccine in May (lungs were clear) and my body's reaction to the first dose was pretty bad. Doctor sent me to the ER on day 4 because of new symptoms that I had never experienced before, including a rash, diarrhea, rectal bleeding (not hemorrhoids). Hospital did several scans/tests, sent me home with antibiotics to treat an infection in my bowel. I did go ahead and get the second dose and had a much more mild reaction. I am now 3 weeks out, still having taste/smell disorders, but the fatigue is starting to ease up, and I don't wake up with a headache everyday (but frequently get one during the day). The brain fog is also dissipating. I'm hopeful that, with time, all my symptoms will ease up.

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@mimi24

I am a healthy 54-year-old woman and was pretty active before Covid, lifting weights or running everyday. I had a pretty severe case of COVID-19 in January, nearly ended up in the hospital, and then I acquired covid pneumonia. Post Covid syndrome has affected me ever since January.
My doctor cleared me for the vaccine in May (lungs were clear) and my body's reaction to the first dose was pretty bad. Doctor sent me to the ER on day 4 because of new symptoms that I had never experienced before, including a rash, diarrhea, rectal bleeding (not hemorrhoids). Hospital did several scans/tests, sent me home with antibiotics to treat an infection in my bowel. I did go ahead and get the second dose and had a much more mild reaction. I am now 3 weeks out, still having taste/smell disorders, but the fatigue is starting to ease up, and I don't wake up with a headache everyday (but frequently get one during the day). The brain fog is also dissipating. I'm hopeful that, with time, all my symptoms will ease up.

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Hello @mimi24 and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. You have been through quite a lot since your COVID infection in January but it is also promising to read that you are starting to come out of the fatigue and that your brain fog is lifting as well.

What has the role of nutrition and supplements played in your road to recovery so far?

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