Fatigue, muscle weakness, shortness of breath, headaches, gastrointestinal problems and insomnia, these are just some of the symptoms that can be observed in Long Covid, a condition that many people are faced with. Until a few months ago, there were vague indications on how to behave in the event of Long Covid. Now, however, it seems that a particular supplement can really help, as emerges from two very recent scientific studies, the first published in the journal Pharmacological Research by a team from 20 Italian centres, including universities and hospitals, and the second in the journal Nutrients curated by Italian scientists from the Gemelli University Hospital in Rome (Izzo et al, Pharmacol Res, 2022 - Tosato et al, Nutrients, 2022).
Long Covid, what it is, symptoms and how it is treated
Long Covid is the name given to that condition that can present itself for weeks or even months after recovering from Covid 19. The symptoms associated with Long Covid are countless, among which the most common are dyspnea, tiredness, lack of muscle strength, headaches, arrhythmias, heartburn, insomnia, but also the poor ability to pay attention and concentrate, with a notable impact on quality of life. Even though Long Covid is a very recent disorder, more and more scientific studies are focusing on this topic, trying to understand how, through nutrition, lifestyle and supplements, we can quickly recover all our full faculties. Among the many substances that can help, two are capturing the attention of science, namely the amino acid arginine and vitamin C. Both, in fact, act on the endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels and the heart, supporting its function, strained by the Covid 19 infection. Not only that, based on studies, in the case of Covid 19 infection, a reduction in arginine levels is observed, a substance that plays a key role in the response immunity, endothelial and respiratory function.
The arginine and vitamin C mix against Long Covid
Given these premises, in both studies we are talking about today, the action of a supplement was tested, containing 1.66 grams of arginine and 500 mg of vitamin C, taken once a day for a month, in people who have recovered from Covid for at least a month and with symptoms attributable to Long Covid. For comparison, two supplements were used, the first containing a mix of B vitamins and the second a placebo. Well, after a month, the improvements in the group that had taken the supplement with arginine and vitamin C were clear and significant. In particular, the supplement with arginine and vitamin C made it possible to re-establish physical performance, increasing the distance covered on foot in 6 minutes and muscle strength, with an increase in handgrip strength, namely the ability to grasp and tighten the objects with the hand. Not only that, arginine and vitamin C improved the elasticity of the blood vessels and almost completely reduced the feeling of fatigue and asthenia. In 74% of cases treated with arginine and vitamin C, dyspnea disappeared, in 86% of cases the sense of chest tightness, dizziness and gastrointestinal disorders disappeared, in 80% of cases headaches, lack of smell, poor concentration, sleepiness and sleep disturbances no longer occurred. Instead, in the case of the placebo and the vitamin B supplement, no improvements were seen, or if there were, they were very small.
Conclusions and other advice
Both studies therefore show a clear improvement in the symptoms of Long Covid with the intake of a supplement based on arginine and vitamin C. Other tools at our disposal are a healthy and varied diet, which includes fruit and vegetables rich in fiber and antioxidants, legumes, whole grains, extra virgin olive oil, dried fruit, especially pumpkin seeds and peanuts which are sources of arginine, beetroot juice that improves the functionality of the muscles and endothelium, moderate physical exercise , such as a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day but, if this proves to be too much, 15 minutes are also fine, spices and aromatic plants, such as rosemary, turmeric and ginger, and other supplements such as fermented papaya and noni (Rebello et al, Exerc Sport Sci Rev, 2022 - Tagde et al, Biomedicines, 2021). The important thing is to always take everything in moderation, never overdo it, and, in the case of supplements, always contact your doctor first.