Vitamins that may be helpful
Measles appears to increase the body's need for vitamin A. Studies in developing countries have shown that measles infection is more frequent and severe in people with low vitamin A blood levels,and preliminary research suggests this may also be true in the developed world. Repeatedly in controlled trials, preventive supplementation with vitamin A, at oral doses of up to 400,000 IU per day, reduced the risk of death in children with measles living in developing countries.
Whether vitamin A supplementation would help people with measles in developed countries, where deficiency is uncommon, is less clear. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children with measles be given a short course of high-dose vitamin A. Two controlled studies of urban South African and Japanese children hospitalized with severe measles showed that supplementation with 100,000 to 400,000 IU of vitamin A resulted in faster recoveries, fewer complications, and fewer pneumonia-related deaths. An older study in England found one ounce per day of cod liver oil (containing about 40,000 IU of vitamin A, plus vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids) reduced measles-related deaths in children hospitalized with severe cases of the disease. Such large doses of vitamin A should only be taken under a doctor's supervision.
Flavonoids are nutrients found in the white, pithy parts of fruits and vegetables. In preliminary laboratory research, certain flavonoids have been found to inhibit the infectivity of measles virus in the test tube. Whether flavonoid supplements could be effective in preventing or treating measles is unknown.