The use of the nutritional supplements during the covid-19 outbreak in Saudi Arabia: A cross-sectional study

Complement Ther Med. 2023 Mar;72:102917. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2023.102917. Epub 2023 Jan 9.

Abstract

Background: COVID-19 causes moderate to severe illness and is spreading globally. During a pandemic, vitamins and minerals are vital to health. Therefore, the prevalence and epidemiology of supplement use in Saudi Arabia during the COVID-19 pandemic must be known.

Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted in Saudi Arabia using an online survey. The study was conducted from June to March 2022 on both adults and children. The link to the survey was shared on social media platforms. The survey included questions on participants' demographics, vaccination status, supplements they used, and side effects of supplements. Participation in this study was optional, and there was no obligation to participate. There was a declaration about the aim of the study and different objectives before starting the survey.

Results: The present study reported that most of the participants reported that they used vitamin C (64.6 %), zinc (51.9 %), multivitamins (46.1 %), black seeds (26.7 %), garlic (Allium sativum) (15.4 %), omega-3 (22.1 %), vitamin D (22.2 %), echinacea (10.1 %), manuka honey (26.0 %), curcumin (13.6 %), ginger (22.5 %), royal jelly (12.9 %), and propolis (7.5 %) before and during the COVID-19 pandemic period. These supplements were used more frequently by subjects during the pandemic than before.

Discussion and conclusion: The respondents' risk of these supplements' use may partially reflect the public's behavioral response during a pandemic. Future studies can document the health beliefs and motivations of nutritional supplement users.

Keywords: COVID-19; Dietary supplements; Nutritional supplements; Saudi Arabia.