Vitamin C and the Immune System


General Disclaimer:

 We must remember that the novel coronavirus resulting in COVID-19 is a brand new virus that has ZERO studies done on it.  As such, all the recommendations that are made in this series are based on the best scientific information we have at the moment.  We have looked at the physiological consequences that are resulting from coronavirus infection and what is happening within the body of those who have been infected.  We will look at other similar diseases and what has been shown to be effective in minimizing the symptoms, severity and length of illness. 


 We will combine the information from this published research with recent literature on supplements, food, energy therapies, environmental influence and other holistic options to hopefully provide the best immune response WHEN we DO contract the novel coronavirus. 

 These recommendations won’t necessarily prevent you from becoming infected but will give your body the best opportunity to responding appropriately once you are infected.

 Ideally, each of us will not interact with the novel coronavirus but the reality is that many of us are going to.  Although there is no proven way to prevent having a negative immune response we need to at least consider options:

a) Have no known serious negative physiological effects

b) Are practical for the majority of people to get or do

c) Have the potential to make a significant impact on our body’s resilience to the novel coronavirus. 

d) Utilizing options that have been shown in scientific literature to be beneficial against closely related viruses or on similar immune responses in the body

 This series of options would likely work best when “stacked” and utilized together.  It is our opinion that applying as many of these complimentary options as possible will be most beneficial in improving how your body interacts with the coronavirus.  If new information comes to light these suggestions will be expanded upon or altered to match the best science available at the time.

***None of these suggestions (supplementation or other health intervention) should be started prior to consultation with your own personal physician to get a recommendation based on your specific health needs


Vitamin C:

 Vitamin C is one of your cheapest, practical and low-risk options you have in improving your immune system to combat the novel coronavirus or any other viral infection for that matter.  It is also one of the finest examples I can provide as to why you can’t necessarily trust mainstream media, the “myth busters” or at times the medical establishment when it comes to information on health and nutrition.  Even the so-called experts often don’t read the actual literature they are citing.

 Yes, these seem like bold claims but I will give you a couple of very prominent examples of this shortly and the saddest part is I will utilize the precise verbiage used by the Cochrane review which is considered by many as the leader in medical research reviews and meta-analysis.

 Ok, so let's get into this in an easy to digest yet research-oriented manner.  Vitamin C has had thousands of studies and in these studies, it has been shown to have substantial effects on our bodies’ immune systems and how they respond. 

 Hopefully, after reading this you will see some of the issues in reporting and why there is controversy in something as simple as advocating for Vitamin C supplementation.

 Let’s see look at what 1st hand reports from those fighting against COVID-19 in China (where they have had tremendous success recently against the virus) have to say and what the scientific literature has found with respect to how Vitamin C influences the immune system.


Vitamin C, the immune system and infection:

 If we start generally on how Vitamin C is useful against any type of infection we can look at the article by Carr and Maggini titled Vitamin C and Immune Function, Nutrients 2017, 9, 1211)

 “Infections significantly impact levels of vitamin C in the body due to enhanced inflammation and metabolic requirements. Furthermore, supplementation with vitamin C appears to be able to both prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections. Prophylactic prevention of infection requires dietary vitamin C intakes that provide at least adequate, if not saturating plasma levels (i.e., 100-200 mg/day), which optimize cell and tissue levels. In contrast, treatment of established infections requires significantly higher (gram) doses of the vitamin to compensate for the increased inflammatory response and metabolic demand


What are medical practitioners and scientists working directly with patients of COVID-19 in China saying about Vitamin C:

 Dr. Richard Cheng, M.D., Ph.D. Shanghai is the director of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board to the International Intravenous Vitamin C China Epidemic Medical Support Team.

 He recently wrote:

 “A group of medical doctors, healthcare providers and scientists met today online to discuss the high dose intravenous vitamin C use in the treatment of moderate to severe cases of Covid-19 patients. The key guest is Dr. Enqiang Mao, chief of emergency medicine department at Ruijing Hospital, a major hospital in Shanghai, affiliated with the Jiatong University College of Medicine. 

 Dr. Mao is a member of the Senior Expert Team at the Shanghai Public Health Center, where all Covid-19 patients have been treated. Dr. Mao also co-authored the Shanghai Expert Panel Consensus for the Treatment of Covid-19 Infection, an official document endorsed by the Shanghai Medical Association and the Shanghai city government.

 Dr. Mao has been using large doses of IVC (Intravenous Vitamin C) to treat patients with acute pancreatitis, sepsis, surgical wound healing, and other medical conditions for over 10 years. This time around when Covid-19 broke out, he and other experts thought of Vitamin C (VC) and recommended VC for the treatment of moderate to severe cases of Covid-19 patients. The recommendation was accepted by the Shanghai Expert Team early on.  All Covid-19 patients in the Shanghai area have been treated in Shanghai Public Health Center, there has been a total of 358 Covid-19 patients as of March 17th, 2020.

 Dr. Mao stated that his group treated ~50 cases of moderate to severe cases of Covid-19 infection with high dose IVC.  The IVC dosing was around 10,000 mg – 20,000 mg a day for 7-10 days, with 10,000 mg for moderate cases and 20,000 for more severe cases by the pulmonary status (mostly the oxygenation index) and the coagulation status. All patients who received IVC improved and there was no mortality. Compared to the average of 30-day hospital stay for all Covid-19 patients, those patients who received high dose IVC had a hospital stay that‘s 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 Vit C IV over a period of 4 hours. They watched the patient’s pulmonary (oxygenation index) status stabilizing and improving in real-time.  There were no side effects reported to all the cases treated with high dose IVC.

 Dr. Cheng then noted Vitamin C is very promising for prevention, and especially important to treat dying patients when there is no better treatment. Over 2,000 people have died of the COIV-19 outbreak and yet I have not seen or heard large dose intravenous vitamin C being used in any of the cases. The current sole focus on vaccine and specific antiviral drugs for epidemics is misplaced.” 

 “Early and sufficiently large doses of intravenous vitamin C are critical. Vitamin C is not only a prototypical antioxidant, but also involved in virus killing and prevention of viral replication. The significance of large dose intravenous vitamin C is not just at antiviral level. It is acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) that kills most people from coronavirus pandemics (SARS, MERS and now NCP). ARDS is a common final pathway leading to death. 


What if we can’t get intravenous Vitamin C?

 Vitamin C researcher Thomas Levy has found through years of clinical experience that a much smaller oral dose of lypospheric vitamin C (5 to 10 grams) often results in a similar clinical response as a much larger dose of vitamin C given intravenously (25 to 100 grams).

 So if you can’t get an IV of Vitamin C supplementing with liposomal Vitamin C is a tremendous option that is available to everyone! 

 News of vitamin C research for COVID-19 is being actively suppressed.


 Anyone saying that vitamin therapy can stop coronavirus is already being labeled as “promoting false information” and promulgating “fake news.” Including recommending Vitamin C.  Even the sharing of verifiable news, and direct quotes from credentialed medical professionals is being restricted or blocked on social media.


Where does most of the controversy come from? 

 Well, really it is from reviews like this one by the Cochrane Library: 

 This article is one of the main sources of misinformation that all of these “Vitamin C myth busters” utilize.

 What the author noted in the first line of the Cochrane Review conclusions:

 “The failure of vitamin C supplementation to reduce the incidence of colds in the general population indicates that routine vitamin C supplementation is not justified”

 This statement was predominantly based on the following:

 Taking 1g/day had no effect on the incidence of the common cold when taken in an isolated manner and not stacked with any other healthy behavior (exercise, other vitamins, light therapy, grounding, zinc, etc).  This means if 100 people did not take Vitamin C and 100 people took the Vitamin C approximately the same number of people would get the common cold in both groups.  It is this simple aspect the Vitamin C “myth busters” cling to and use in their arguments.  As you will see this is ridiculous claim.


Incidence of disease:

 Remember “Incidence” simply refers to the occurrence, rate, or frequency of a disease.

 It should not be as surprise that a general population supplementing Vitamin C in isolation and not attempting any other health modifications would not see a decrease in the incidence of disease compared to a group doing the same but without Vitamin C supplementation. 

 Vitamin C does not stop a virus from entering our bodies so we should expect a similar number of people to get sick regardless of whether they took Vitamin C supplementation or not. 

 The question is once they got sick how did the bodies of those who supplemented with Vitamin C respond when compared to those that didn’t supplement with Vitamin C

 Let's look at the other sections of this Cochrane Review to see what it has to say

A) Adults and children taking 1g / day saw an 8 and 18% reduction in the duration of symptoms respectively

B) 1g /day of Vitamin C reduced the number of days indoor and away from work or school by 13.6%

C)1g /day of Vitamin C reduced symptom scores by 12.8%

D) Taking 8g /d on the first day of symptoms reduced the length of a cold by 19%

E) Regular supplementation of Vitamin C reduced cold duration and severity and the largest therapeutic dose showed substantial practical importance

F) In athletes performing rigorous exercise (training for a marathon or skiing would be examples), vitamin C supplementation (up to 8 grams per day) displayed a protective effect against the common cold with nearly halved the common cold risk… nearly 50% reduction in incidence!!!!

 These are the additional findings by the same author who said Vitamin C supplementation was not justified…

 “Vitamin C may be useful for people exposed to brief periods of physical exercise. Regular supplementation trials have shown that vitamin C reduces the duration and severity of colds… given the consistent effect of vitamin C on the duration and severity of colds in the regular supplementation studies, and the low cost and safety, it may be worthwhile for common cold patients to test on an individual basis whether therapeutic vitamin C is beneficial for them.”


What are some of these “Vitamin C Myth Busters saying? 

 They have flashy and unconditional headlines but what science are they actually basing their strong statements on? 

 The website put out an article stating “Coronavirus: It’s Time to Debunk Claims That Vitamin C Could Cure It

 In the midst of the novel coronavirus outbreak, some “influencers” are claiming that taking mega-doses of vitamin C can cure COVID-19.”

 They begin with “So let’s cut to the chase. Can vitamin C cure the coronavirus? Considering that novel coronavirus belongs to the same family of viruses – coronaviruses – as the common cold and flu, it’s unlikely that taking vitamin C will prevent or cure you of a COVID-19 infection.

 They even quote the Cochrane review I mentioned above  when they state “And although a review found that vitamin C has no effect on reducing the frequency of colds, it did find that for the average person, there was a decrease in the duration of common cold symptoms. But for people that participate in brief periods of severe physical exercise (such as marathon runners and skiers), vitamin C halved the duration and severity of their common cold risk.” 

 So exercising and taking Vitamin C can halve the potential of getting cold and you don’t think that justifies supplementing with Vitamin C to improve your immune response?   

 Later in the same Snopes article they then note:

 “Though I have said vitamin C is unlikely to be a dramatic cure for COVID-19, the fact that it can promote good immune function means it would be going too far to say there will be no effect. And although a review found that vitamin C has no effect on reducing the frequency of colds, it did find that for the average person, there was a small decrease in the duration of common cold symptoms. But for people that participate in brief periods of severe physical exercise (such as marathon runners and skiers), vitamin C halved the duration and severity of their common cold risk. 

 These slight effects of vitamin C on the coronavirus that causes the common cold have spurred a new clinical trial looking to cure COVID-19 infections using very high intravenous doses of vitamin C. These trials have just started and no results are yet posted. “

 Well as we have already indicated, the information is coming out and it is definitively stating Vitamin C in high doses IS HIGHLY EFFECTIVE against the novel coronavirus resulting in COVID-19. 

 Shame on you and every other “myth buster” who hasn’t done their homework!!!  Crappy uninformed or lazy articles of suspect motivations are making it difficult for people to gain control of their own health and make educated choices of how to improve their chances of positive outcomes against the novel coronavirus. 


Vitamin C Recommendations:

 Considering the ease of taking Vitamin C supplementation and how inexpensive it is compared to almost any other intervention it appears Vitamin C should be a mandatory inclusion almost any persons attempt to improve their immune system.

 Patients with a viral infection quickly use up their internal protective Vitamin C.  For this reason, patients supplementing with Vitamin C replenish these levels and help the patient continue to fight of the virus.

1g (1000mg)/ day appears to be on the low side of the supplementation recommendations at this time. 

 Best results have been shown when patients take larger dosages BEFORE they develop symptoms or very large doses (8 grams/day) on the very first day of experiencing symptoms in cold or flu. Information from China is indicating much larger doses (up to 24,000mg or 24g has been used for short periods to help patients suffering COVID-19oivercome the viral infection.

 We do not see any evidence that would indicate Vitamin C would not be one of the first recommendations in a holistic plan to supporting the body’s immune response to any viral infection and this includes the novel coronavirus COVOID-19.

 If you say something as simple as Vitamin C supplementation may reduce the length of illness by up to 20% and the symptom score by 13 to 20%  I think it is one of the easiest interventions we can include on a population-wide basis.  My recommendation would be to utilize liposomal Vitamin C supplementation in the range of 1,000mg to 8,000mg/ day (or more)  depending on whether you are boosting your immune system in preparation for encountering the novel coronavirus or have just begun to feel symptoms of infection. 

 Including whole food citrus or other food choices high in vitamin C should be a mandatory inclusion in your preventative and therapeutic diet.

 Combining high dose Vitamin C supplementation in a prevention and treatment plan for the novel coronavirus appears to have minimal downside at this time and could be very beneficial.  As such, we are recommending our family and friends consider adding this to their daily routine in conjunction with the other supplementation, energetic and environmental suggestions we make in this series.

***None of these suggestions (supplementation or other health intervention) should be started prior to consultation with your own personal physician to get a recommendation based on your specific health needs