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Coronavirus 101: Can Vitamin C Treat or Prevent COVID-19?

During times of crisis, all of us try to look for anything that can help us. With the 2019 coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, people are stocking up on vitamins and supplements. However, our world today has very little knowledge about how to treat COVID-19 aside from advising to treat it is as you would to any other cold or flu. This is why we can’t really blame people for trying to recover some control over their bodies. 

The vitamin C section of the supplement aisle everywhere looks bare these days and plenty of claims in social media are circulating that vitamin C can help with COVID-19. Although physicians and researchers are examining the effects of high dose intravenous (IV) vitamin C on the new pandemic disease, there is still no supplement, including vitamin C, can prevent or treat COVID-19. In this article, we are going to talk about vitamin C, how it works on our immunity, how it’s being tested for COVID-19 treatment in a hospital setting, and to see if taking an oral supplement is useful. 

Understanding Vitamin C and Its Importance 

According to Healthline.com, vitamin C is a vital nutrient with several roles in your body. Since it’s a potent antioxidant, it can counterweigh unsecured compounds in your body called free radicals and prevent or reverse cellular damage caused by these compounds. Vitamin C is also included in a number of biochemical processes, a lot of which are associated with immune health. 

The DV or Daily Value for vitamin C is 90 mg per day, but breastfeeding women require an additional 30 mg and people who are into smoking should take an extra 35 mg per day, according to National Institutes of Health. You can also take vitamin C needs through incorporating it in your diet by eating fruits and vegetables. For instance, eating a single medium orange will give you 77% of the DV, and 1 cup (160 grams) of cooked broccoli provides 112% of the DV. 

Vitamin C is important for various processes within the body. Here are the following key activities of this vitamin: 

  • Exceptionally Effective Antioxidant. Antioxidants are important since they protect biomolecules in our body like lipids, proteins, carbohydrates, and genetic material against their breakdown caused by oxidants, which are triggered during normal cell metabolism or obtained from environmental exposure, including air pollution or cigarette smoke. 
  • Great Immune Response. According to Drugs.com, a study has found out that certain cells in our immune system, like phagocytes and T-cells, collect vitamin C and depend on the vitamin to do their job. A scarcity in vitamin C means we have reduced resistance against definite pathogens. 
  • A Cofactor of Many Enzymes. Most importantly, those associated with collagen creation⁠—the protein that clasps our body together, found in our muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments and skin, and carnitine production—the molecule that delivers fatty acids into mitochondria to create metabolic energy. 
  • Hormones Production. Vitamin C helps in generating hormones like norepinephrine and vasopressin which plays an essential role in how our cardiovascular system combats infection. 
  • There are other roles how vitamin C regulates the way certain genes express themselves, absorbing iron, and many more. 

Can Vitamin C Help Prevent/Treat COVID-19?

According to an article published in the Chinese Journal of Infection Diseases, the Shanghai Medical Association declared and approved the use of high dose vitamin C as a treatment for hospitalized people with COVID-19. 

They recommend giving doses that are magnitudes higher than the DV through IV to enhance lung function, which in return will keep a patient off of mechanical ventilation or life support. Moreover, a 2019 review from the PubMed Central found out that both oral and IV high dose vitamin C treatment may help people admitted to ICUs for life-and-death illnesses by lessening ICU stay period by 8% and reducing the duration of mechanical ventilation by 18.2%. 

Chinese researchers are still studying the effectiveness of IV vitamin C in patients with COVID-19. And although high dose IV vitamin C is currently being tested to know if it can boost lung function in patients with COVID-19, there is still no evidence that concludes taking high doses of oral vitamin c supplements can aid the disease. 

COVID-19 is definitely a new disease, and everyone is still learning about it. However, according to Drugs.com, there are some studies in other infections or conditions recommend it can be helpful in certain groups of people, especially for those who are already lacking in vitamin C who got COVID-19. Now, there are at least two trials that are in progress particularly examining the use of vitamin C to treat serious COVID-19, one in New York and one in China. 

Here are positive effects of vitamin C supplementation for people with: 

  • Acute respiration infections (for elderly people)
  • Regular severe respiratory distress syndrome 
  • Severe common colds
  • Pneumonia (for elderly people) 
  • Under mechanical ventilation in ICU 

Do I Really Need to Take Vitamin C Supplement? 

Although there is no guarantee that it will treat coronavirus, it’s beneficial to take vitamin C to help shorten the duration and severity of colds caused by other viruses. But be cautious when taking high doses of vitamin C since the worst thing that can happen to you is getting an awful gas. 

For now, the best thing to do is to eat a diet that’s full of different fruits and vegetables, which provides all the vitamin C you need in the most natural way— together with many other nutrients and antioxidants.

Author Bio: Ivandrea Ollero is a writer for Healthy Being- Online Health Food Store, that caters to a wide range of health products, natural foods, and organic supplements. She is also a content crafter who researches and writes custom content about travel, fashion, finance, business, home improvements, health, and beauty, in order to provide helpful information and tips for her readers. Ivandrea graduated from St. Scholastica’s College, Manila, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcast Journalism in 2016.

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