Vitamin C has always been a controversial supplement. To some, it belongs firmly in the alternative medicine basket, with apparently no substantial evidence to support its use.
To others, it holds promise, particularly if you are talking about certain groups of people who are likely to be low in vitamin C.
Because we NEED vitamin C. It is an important antioxidant and crucial for our immune system function among other things. Studies have also shown our bodies excrete less vitamin C when we are sick, meaning we hold onto vitamin C when we are unwell because we use more.
But no disease has put vitamin C in the spotlight as much as COVID-19.
With no definite treatment and thousands of people dying from respiratory diseases such as pneumonia associated with COVID-19, medical staff are scrambling for treatments that might make a difference.
And vitamin C has the potential to make a difference. Despite what some may say.
Why? Well firstly, there is an unnerving similarity between those people who are likely to have low levels of vitamin C (which is around 7% of the U.S. population by the way), and those people more at risk of severe COVID-19. Let’s list them:
- Older people
- People exposed to air pollution or second-hand cigarette smoke
- People with cancer
- People with diabetes
- People with heart disease
- People with lung disease
- People who are immunosuppressed
Secondly, there is evidence that vitamin C does help, particularly in the elderly and in people who have low vitamin C levels to start with, with treating pneumonia and other respiratory diseases. A recent review of trials showed intravenous (IV) vitamin C shortened mechanical ventilation time by 25 percent on average among patients requiring ventilation for more than 10 hours.
Hospitals around the world, including in New York and China, have already begun using IV vitamin C to treat people with severe COVID-19, despite it never having been tested for this disease before.
And why not?
When you’re stuck between no treatment and a cheap, well-tolerated option that has already shown promise in modulating overwhelming oxidative stress in other conditions, wouldn’t you want to give it a go?