March 27, 2020
Vitamin C is cheap to get and has been known to fight against viruses and strengthen immune function for quite some time now.
It’s not the cure for this coronavirus, but it appears to be quite helpful in fighting it.
Seriously sick coronavirus patients in New York state’s largest hospital system are being given massive doses of vitamin C — based on promising reports that it’s helped people in hard-hit China, The Post has learned.
Dr. Andrew G. Weber, a pulmonologist and critical-care specialist affiliated with two Northwell Health facilities on Long Island, said his intensive-care patients with the coronavirus immediately receive 1,500 milligrams of intravenous vitamin C.
Identical amounts of the powerful antioxidant are then readministered three or four times a day, he said.
Each dose is more than 16 times the National Institutes of Health’s daily recommended dietary allowance of vitamin C, which is just 90 milligrams for adult men and 75 milligrams for adult women.
The regimen is based on experimental treatments administered to people with the coronavirus in Shanghai, China, Weber said.
“The patients who received vitamin C did significantly better than those who did not get vitamin C,” he said.
“It helps a tremendous amount, but it is not highlighted because it’s not a sexy drug.”
Weber, 34, said vitamin C levels in coronavirus patients drop dramatically when they suffer sepsis, an inflammatory response that occurs when their bodies overreact to the infection.
“It makes all the sense in the world to try and maintain this level of vitamin C,” he said.
A clinical trial on the effectiveness of intravenous vitamin C on coronavirus patients began Feb. 14 at Zhongnan Hospital in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the pandemic.
The randomized, triple-blind study will involve an estimated 140 participants and is expected to be complete by Sept. 30, according to information posted on the US National Library of Medicine’s website.
In early March, Daily Mail reported on the Chinese trial and included some additional information about the effects of high doses of vitamin C.
Desperate to avoid coming down with a winter cold or worse, plenty of us will be dosing up on vitamin C supplements — and doctors in China are even looking into its effectiveness against coronavirus.
Research into new and exciting uses such as battling sepsis and memory loss is also under way.
We spend more than £880 million on vitamin C supplements globally, with that figure expected to top £1.1 billion by 2024.
Its popularity is rooted in the belief that vitamin C can prevent colds — a theory first set out in 1970 by Nobel Prize-winning scientist Linus Pauling. He was convinced of its benefits and personally took 3g a day, although much of his research on the vitamin was later discredited.
Certainly, when it comes to infections or a virus such as flu, it is accepted that vitamin C is part of the immune response and quickly becomes depleted. It helps by encouraging the production of white blood cells that fight disease, attaching themselves to, and killing, invading microbes.
However, multiple studies have failed to back up Pauling’s theory of vitamin C as a preventative supplement and, according to a 2017 report by the authoritative review board the Cochrane Collaboration, the best we can hope from taking a well above average daily 1,000mg of vitamin C is shortening the length of a cold by 8 per cent — about 0.4 days.
Higher doses than this have been found to shorten colds further — research from the University of Helsinki in 2017 found that daily doses of 6g to 8g could shorten symptoms of a cold by 19 per cent. But in the general population, vitamin C was not found to have any preventative effect.
In other words, while it might help fight a cold, supplementation didn’t alter how frequently people come down with one.
The NHS recommends healthy adults consume 40mg of the vitamin daily. ‘We are all genetically deficient as we do not naturally provide the vitamin C we need,’ says Dr Thomas Levy, a U.S. cardiologist and author of Primal Panacea, a new book about the uses of vitamin C.
Eating one medium orange will provide almost double the daily amount at 70mg, and two medium tomatoes will hit the goal at 20mg each.
The NHS warns that taking extremely large amounts (more than 10g per day) of vitamin C can cause stomach pain, diarrhoea and flatulence.
But ‘there is no known level of vitamin C which is toxic’, says Dr Levy. ‘This is because vitamin C is water soluble, so anything the body doesn’t use will be excreted in urine.’
However, he warns that in cases of kidney failure, supplements should only be given with close monitoring. This is because when the kidneys — which make urine — are failing, it is more difficult for the body to excrete excess vitamins.
Considering that overdosing on vitamin C appears to be a non-issue, it wouldn’t hurt to have some vitamin C supplements in your lockdown stash, just in case.
Shortening symptoms of a cold by 19% at doses of 6 to 8 grams already sounds pretty good, and knowing that it also helps your body fight against other problems should be enough reason to at least look into it further.