Story at a glance
- A United Kingdom-based campaign team is advocating for the promotion and use of Vitamin C for COVID-19 therapy and prevention
- Despite being proven as extremely beneficial, Vitamin C is categorized as ‘fake information’ and is rarely prescribed/recommended by doctors
- The recommended standard of Vitamin C daily intake is not sufficient when someone is exposed to or battling a virus
Vitamin C Deficiencies
VitaminC4Covid, a newly founded campaign group based in the UK, released a review which was published in the Nutrients Journal on December 7, 2020 called Vitamin C—An Adjunctive Therapy for Respiratory Infection, Sepsis and COVID-19.
The contents provide an in-depth report conducted by a reputable team of researchers and scientists, and advocates for the potential use of Vitamin C in the treatment of respiratory infections and sepsis.
Within the review there was a specific section dedicated to the study of how a Vitamin C deficient person faces harmful, if not devastating, consequences when diagnosed with Pneumonia, Sepsis, and/or COVID-19. In this section, it says, “Human plasma vitamin C levels decline rapidly under conditions of physiological stress including infection, trauma, and surgery…”(1)
A healthy plasma level of Vitamin C is approximated at 50 μmol/L. The researchers at VitaminC4Covid revealed that “A study of 21 critically ill COVID-19 patients admitted to ICU in the US found a mean level of 22 µmol/L, thus a majority had hypovitaminosis C. The mean level for 11 survivors was 29 µmol/L compared to 15 µmol/L for the 10 non-survivors; of these five (50%) had ≤11 µmol/L.” (2)
This translates to the fact that those with the lowest Vitamin C plasma rates were the most likely to face a deadly outcome in relation to COVID-19. Since Vitamin C levels naturally decline during physiological stress, and for 50% of the non-survivors to have ≤11 µmol/L, this means they would have already had to have been Vitamin C deficient prior to their COVID-19 diagnosis.
Vulnerable from the beginning
Humans are incapable of producing Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which is why it must be obtained through our diet. The vitamin is most abundant in uncooked fruits and vegetables. Another way for it to be obtained is through various supplements.
Researchers say, “Vitamin C is naturally found in fresh fruits and vegetables; for example, grapefruits, oranges, lemons, limes, potatoes, spinach, broccoli, red peppers, and tomatoes. Up to 90% of vitamin C is consumed in the form of vegetables and fruits. Lack of exposure to these foods has been the most frequent cause of the deficiency. Additionally, vitamin C is heat-sensitive, and historically, preparation (boiling or cooking) has removed the nutritional value.”(3)
Studies have shown that Vitamin C has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulating components. This means that it is essential to our body’s first line of defense against viral respiratory infections.
Cytokines are small molecules in the immune system which communicate with immune cells when a pathogen is present, and that an immune response should be occurring. Chemokines, a type of Cytokine, are typically known to be pro-inflammatory, which means that the immune response they trigger would be one of inflammation.
Researchers say, “The majority of chemokines are considered to be proinflammatory, and they are released by a variety of cells in response to virus (or other microbial) infection.”(4)
Cytokine Storms are believed to be the cause of COVID-19 disease mortality. VitaminC4Covid’s researchers say in their review, “The critical and often fatal phase of COVID-19, primarily triggered by the host’s reaction to dead virus particles, occurs with increased production of potent proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines, resulting in the development of multi-organ failure.”
The review then mentions how “…vitamin C contributes to the downregulation of cytokines, protecting the endothelium from oxidant injury and has an essential role in tissue repair.” (5)
Since Vitamin C has components that can reverse one of the most fatal aspects of COVID-19, then why hasn’t there been more conversation about including it in treatment?
VitaminC4Covid is a non-profit organization based in the United Kingdom. They are currently campaigning for more support in theorizing that Vitamin C can effectively assist in the vast therapies being used to counteract COVID-19.
Their website’s home page states, “Vitamin C is a safe, inexpensive and highly effective anti-viral nutrient in the right amount, both for prevention of colds, reducing duration and severity, and for the treatment of COVID-19 in the acute phase with life-saving potential. Yet it is classified as ‘fake information’, not recommended by governments and rarely prescribed by doctors. This has to change. Sign our petition.”(6)
With over 7,000 signatures from around the world, some from healthcare professionals themselves, the organization is asking for more signatures to support their studies.
Their released review in the Nutrition Journal has more than enough evidence to support their supposed ‘controversial’ claims. If they receive the support they are asking for, their studies could take the development of preventative and therapeutic measures regarding respiratory infections to the next level.
You can sign the petition here.
- Holford, Patrick; Carr, Anitra C.; Jovic, Thomas H.; Ali, Stephen R.; Whitaker, Iain S.; Marik, Paul E.; Smith, A. D. 2020. “Vitamin C—An Adjunctive Therapy for Respiratory Infection, Sepsis and COVID-19” Nutrients 12, no. 12: 3760. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12123760.
- Holford, Patrick; et. al. 2020. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/12/3760/htm.
- Maxfield L, Crane JS. Vitamin C Deficiency. [Updated 2020 Jul 2]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493187/
- Tisoncik, J. R., Korth, M. J., Simmons, C. P., Farrar, J., Martin, T. R., & Katze, M. G. (2012). Into the eye of the cytokine storm. Microbiology and molecular biology reviews : MMBR, 76(1), 16–32. https://doi.org/10.1128/MMBR.05015-11
- Tisoncik, J.R., et. al. Into the eye of the cytokine storm. Microbiology and molecular biology reviews : MMBR. (2012).
- VitaminC4COVID. VITAMIN C FOR COVID. (2020).