I-Team: A look into the world of vitamin supplements during the COVID-19 pandemic

I-Team

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — To date, there is no cure or vaccine for COVID-19, but there are ways to boost your immune system so you don’t get sick.

In the last month or so, sales of vitamin supplements have exploded. But do they work?

The I-Team checked out one of the largest vitamin producers in the West.

When Wayne Gorsek first invited a television camera into his gleaming vitamin venture five years ago, he beamed while describing the state of art quality control systems, high tech machines that cost him millions of extra dollars.

The Las Vegas plant is a 55,000-square-foot mechanized marvel, stainless steel throughout, as clean as an operating room. Dr. Vita sells its own line of supplements, mostly online, but the bulk of what is produced at the Las Vegas plant is sold under different brand names by giant retailers including Walmart and Costco. In the weeks since COVID-19 led to shutdowns and quarantines, sales of vitamin supplements have exploded.

To keep up with the virus-inspired demand, the company recently doubled its production capabilities and can now crank out up to two billion capsules per year with a wide range of different supplements.

But the big question, does any of it work? If you read recent articles about vitamins, the opinions are all over the place. Yes they do. No they don’t. Gorsek says medical science has proven beyond all doubt that vitamins, in particular C and D, help boost our immune systems, but test results vary because of the types and amounts of active ingredients in a given study. “Vitamin D3 is well proven for the immune system, Gorsek told Mystery Wire, “But the dosage in a typical multivitamin is worthless. Leave between four and 5000 NU per day to get levels in your blood that you’ve been shown to be beneficial for your being system levels of a 1000 and under probably don’t work.”

One of the best known vitamin brands contain about two cents worth of actual vitamins, he says, not enough to make much of a difference.

Few vitamins have been studied more than vitamin C. Modern medicine generally agrees it is vital in warding off infections or viruses. It’s considered a staple during flu season.

Studies show it can also lessen the time it takes to heal, but doctors often say a balanced diet should provide all the vitamins we need, and supplements are a waste of money.

Since the coronavirus arrived in the U.S., various hucksters have been marketing miracle cures and magical elixirs. Gorsek doesn’t think vitamins deserve to be lumped into that group. He notes there is no cure for COVID-19 and no proven vaccine. But there are hints that a stronger immune system can help.

In New York City, one hospital chain has reported some success by administering massive doses of vitamin C to COVID-19 patients. We asked Gorsek which vitamins he’s taking during the lockdown. “(I) take multivitamin … There’s a lot of coq10. Which benefits the immune system in the heart, the brain. A lot of turmeric. I (also) do fish oil.

Doctors are right when they say a balanced diet should provide all the vitamins we need. But in a time when millions of us are gorging on pizza, mac and cheese, and other comfort foods while binging Netflix, a balanced diet is not that easy to achieve.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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