Data published in Nutrients indicated that the combination of nine essential amino acids plus cysteine, malic, succinic, and citric acid, and vitamin B6 and B1 also improved the quality of life in people who have recovered from COVID-19.
The new study, performed by scientists from Fondazione Policlinico Universitario “Agostino Gemelli” IRCCS in Rome, was only pilot scale and so additional, larger trials are necessary to validate the findings.
But despite this data being preliminary, the Rome-based scientists noted: “It is important to highlight that the assessment of nutritional status and the treatment with adequate multicomponent nutritional support is advised in all patients in the acute stage of COVID-19 and in the post-acute phase as well.”
While the list of symptoms associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection has changed depending on the specific virus variant, fatigue remains a constant issue for many people during and after infection.
“It has been clearly established that even twelve weeks after the onset of COVID-19, more than 50% of patients continued to suffer from fatigue and 15–20% still had smell disorders, distorted taste, and loss of appetite,” explained the Rome-based researchers.
“With the persistence of these conditions, it is important to advocate for specific nutritional assessment protocols and the prescription of multicomponent nutritional support.”
In order to examine if an oral nutritional supplement could improve outcomes, the researchers recruited 66 people who had recovered from COVID-19 but were still suffering symptoms of fatigue. Half of these people were assigned to the nutritional supplement, which consisted of 10 amino acids (Leucine, Lysine, Threonine, Isoleucine, Valine, Cysteine, Histidine, Phenylalanine, Methionine, Tryptophan), plus vitamins B6 and B1, plus malic, succinic, and citric acids. Another 33 people were recruited to act as controls (no intervention).
After eight weeks of follow-up, the researchers found that the supplements were associated with increases in measures for skeletal muscle, physical performance, and quality of life compared to baseline values.
Additional analysis revealed that, compared to the control group, the nutritional supplement was associated with significant improvements in skeletal muscle index, handgrip strength test, the one-minute chair–stand test, and six-minute walking test.
Commenting on the potential mechanisms of action, the researchers noted that long COVID is characterized by higher levels of inflammatory markers, and that “the three organic acids with amino acids could be useful for a reduction of the inflammatory status”.
The organic acids, and the amino acids, may also aid mitochondrial function, they noted, while amino acids themselves have been reported to modulate immune responses.
“The hypothesis that the nutritional supplement based on 10 amino acids […]; vitamins B6 and B1; and malic, succinic, and citric acids may have had a positive impact on nutritional status and functional recovery is corroborated by the scientific evidence and by a strong biological plausibility,” concluded the researchers.
2022, 14(11), 2316; doi: 10.3390/nu14112316
“Effects of a New Multicomponent Nutritional Supplement on Muscle Mass and Physical Performance in Adult and Old Patients Recovered from COVID-19: A Pilot Observational Case–Control Study”
Authors: F. Landi et al.