As scientists continue to look for effective ways to treat and prevent COVID-19, certain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients have been getting sustained attention as potential candidates.
And why not? We’ve known for some time that certain nutrients play a key role in immune function. As one 2007 paper summarized,
Micronutrients contribute to the body’s natural defences on three levels by supporting physical barriers (skin/mucosa), cellular immunity and antibody production. Vitamins A,C, E and the trace element zinc assist in enhancing the skin barrier function. The vitamins A, B6,B12, C, D, E and folic acid and the trace elements iron, zinc, copper and selenium work in synergy to support the protective activities of the immune cells. Finally, all these micronutrients, with the exception of vitamin C and iron, are essential for antibody production. Overall, inadequate intake and status of these vitamins and trace elements may lead to suppressed immunity, which predisposes to infections and aggravates malnutrition. Therefore, supplementation with these selected micronutrients can support the body’s natural defence system by enhancing all three levels of immunity.
Just last week, a new study in Nutrients found that older adults who took a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement over 12 weeks had less severe symptoms and quicker recoveries from illness than those who took placebo.
Since the pandemic hit the US, vitamin D is one nutrient of special interest, with more than 30 trials underway to evaluate whether it may play a role in combating COVID, either as a treatment or a means of prevention.
But perhaps even more exciting is the potential of high dose vitamin C.
Consider a case recently published in the American Journal of Case Reports, in which a 74-year old woman went to the ER with a low-grade fever, shortness of breath, and a dry cough just about a week after undergoing knee replacement surgery. She also had several pre-existing conditions, including hypertension, obesity, and osteoarthritis.
Ultimately, she was hospitalized with COVID and developed complications despite treatment. As her condition continued to worsen, she was put on a ventilator. Eventually, her family asked that she be given high dose vitamin C intravenously and continuously – 11 grams a day – which the doctors okayed.
Within two days, her condition began to improve. Within 5 days, she was able to be taken off the ventilator – the first patient at their hospital who was able to do so and recover from her illness.
Other clinicians have reported similar success stories. In one of the most powerful examples, a doctor in Wuhan, China treated about 50 COVID patients with 10 to 20 grams of IV vitamin C each day for a week to 10 days (lower dosage for moderate cases, higher for severe ones).
All patients who received IVC improved and there was no mortality. Compared to the average of a 30-day hospital stay for all Covid-19 patients, those patients who received high dose IVC had a hospital stay about 3-5 days shorter than the overall patients. Dr. Mao discussed one severe case in particular who was deteriorating rapidly. He gave a bolus of 50,000 mg IVC over a period of 4 hours. The patient’s pulmonary (oxygenation index) status stabilized and improved as the critical care team watched in real time. There were no side effects reported from any of the cases treated with high dose IVC. [emphasis in original]
A case series performed here in the US, involving 17 COVID patients, had more modest results, although in this case, a much lower dose of C was used. Each patient was given 1 gram intravenously every 8 hours for three days, in addition to drugs they were already taking, such as hydroxychloroquine, methylprednisolone, or tocilizumab.
While there was little impact on mortality and rates of intubation or ventilator use, inflammatory markers did go down significantly. Patients also tended to need less mechanical support for their breathing.
Clearly, much more research is yet to be done, but the early results are encouraging. Still, it can’t be stressed enough that they shouldn’t be taken as direction to start taking massive amounts of vitamin C.
For now, the best advice remains 1) wash your hands often, 2) follow social distancing guidelines, and 3) wear a mask when in public. Between those actions and making healthful choices that support Radiant Health, you’ll go a long way toward keeping yourself – and others – safe.