With a global pandemic currently happening, everyone is looking for ways to boost their immune system. One of the best and most effective ways to do so is by taking Vitamin C supplements. And, while most of us have heard that before, few of us understand why or realize the impact that it truly has as it relates to COVID-19, as well as other viruses and colds.
What the Evidence is Saying About Vitamin C
Not only is COVID-19 a highly contagious and dangerous virus, but it is also a new virus that very little is known about. This has set many scientists and researchers on a hunt to not only learn more about it but to find ways to either cure it, alleviate symptoms, or prevent it altogether. One of these recent studies has discovered how effective Vitamin C is on reducing hospital stays by as many as three to five days.
This treatment is being used in both New York City and China with positive and encouraging results. In China, doctors are prescribing as much as 50-100 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. Doctors in New York are providing patients with smaller amounts than those used in China, possibly due to shortages, but are still seeing vast improvements in patients.
Reducing ICU Stays
Another study that specifically looked at lung-based diseases or illness like pneumonia, which is often linked to viral infections like Coronavirus also showed promise with Vitamin C. It explained that taking an oral dose of one to three grams per day could reduce the length of an ICU stay by as much as 9%.
Further Positive Research of Vitamin C
It’s no secret that COVID-19 has taken and continues to take the lives of thousands of individuals. This is due in large part because of something known as the cytokine surge, which is the release of inflammatory chemicals. It is caused by sepsis, an infection in the bloodstream, and is activated by neutrophils in the lungs which essentially destroy lung tissue. Patients’ lungs are drowned by fluids from inflammation coming from the immune system.
Though that may sound bleak, early studies are showing that Vitamin C can actually prevent this process from occurring. It has been shown to:
- Eliminate fluid by preventing the activation and accumulation of neutrophils and reducing epithelial water channel damage
- Prevent the formation of neutrophil extracellular traps and avascular injury caused by neutrophil activation
- Shorten the duration of something like the common cold and prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections
What About Deficiency?
As stated, taking high doses of Vitamin C can have a significant impact on the immune system and can help to fight infectious diseases, but a deficiency with this nutrient can be detrimental. In fact, it can actually increase the risk of developing an infection.
If illness does occur, treatment with this nutrient can reduce the inflammatory response. However, it may require even higher doses to compensate for increased inflammation response and metabolic demands. Dosing needs to be in grams rather than milligrams.
What About Hydroxychloroquine?
With no set treatment plan for COVID-19, some doctors and government officials are scrambling to find a medication that can help. While hydroxychloroquine, a popular malaria medication, has had some success, it is not a miracle drug and it has not been proven to be safe for everyone to take. Like most medications, it still has side effects that may impact the liver and nervous system.
Focus On the Immune System
The things within an individual’s control really focus on the immune system and making sure it is adequately prepared to fight a virus, should it occur. In addition to supplementing with high doses of Vitamin C, try to get adequate sleep, exercise, sunshine, and continue to seek human and spiritual connection through phone calls, facetime, and other social outlets.
Remember, those who are at the highest risk and those who have succumbed to the virus tend to have poor diets and lifestyle choices. Many of them are taking several medications, have metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Unfortunately, where this is seen the most tends to be in the older population, requiring more precautions to protect them.
Supplementing Vitamin C
So how should Vitamin C be taken to really prepare the immune system to take on a virus? First, while Vitamin C in pill form is sufficient, powder tends to be a better option for higher doses as it can be mixed with water and easily swallowed. It’s also important to note that this nutrient is known to cause diarrhea in large doses; therefore, plan to split it up during the day to prevent gastric issues.
Furthermore, when taking such high doses, it’s important to wean off of Vitamin C if reducing or discontinuing the supplement. Quitting “cold turkey” could result in reverse scurvy leading to bleeding gums and other signs of deficiency. Reduce intake by one gram every week until reaching the desired amount.
Vitamin C Tolerance Level
To discover a tolerance level for an individual, drink one teaspoon of powdered Vitamin C every fifteen minutes until diarrhea occurs. For an individual with a chronic illness, take two teaspoons.
Once at this point, find out how many grams of Vitamin C it took for diarrhea to occur and calculate 75% of that number. For example, if it took ten grams, the max tolerance level would be 7.5 grams. This would need to be split up and consumed over the period of one day.
Be Your Own Advocate
As seen with the success of the studies above, Vitamin C will help your immune system and may help you fight off disease, but it’s important to remember that it won’t prevent a virus-like COVID-19, nor will it cure it. It does mean, however, that your immune system will be better prepared and you may not need to go to or be in the hospital for a significant period of time.
If you do get sick and need to go to the hospital, don’t hesitate to ask for an IV of this nutrient and specifically request large doses. Taking care of your body now and advocating for yourself in the hospital could make all the difference in your recovery.