Vitamin C for COVID: Possible Prophylaxis & Adjunctive Therapy

Bias alert. I am bullish on Vitamin C. Aren’t things easier when you don’t have to wonder these things? I digress. The article cited for this post was published in the journal Nutrition on 7/25/2020. Obviously, the title of the paper “Vitamin C as prophylaxis and adjunctive medical treatment for COVID-19?” caught my attention. Hat tip to the authors. I recommend reading the entire article.

We are battling COVID and it doesn’t feel like we are winning. More cases by the day, and while we’re getting better at taking care of these patients, many people are dying throughout the world. The paper cites that 42% of critically ill patients with COVID-19 do not survive. There’s no magic cure at the moment. Let me be clear that I don’t think Vitamin C is the cure here, but potentially a therapy that can nudge things in the right direction. I have zero data to support that at this moment.

Some of the biologic rationales for using vitamin C here include being a free radical scavenger and it supports various cellular functions of the innate and adaptive immune systems. This adaptive immune system could influence inflammation and therefore modify susceptibility to various viral infections.

Vitamin C brings down the IL-6

We are learning about the cytokine release syndrome aspects of COVID. This is what, in my opinion, is killing patients. There’s data that vitamin C decreases IL-6 production and blocks it in vivo which is cited in the article. This isn’t an empty plea. The research purists will say, there’s no randomized double blind placebo controlled trial. If there are no adverse effects, why not try?

The authors provide citations for papers where Vitamin C blocks other inflammatory cytokines and in a different study, just 500mg twice a day reduced IL-6 and CRP in hypertensive and diabetic patients. As a bonus, Vitamin C could also have beneficial effects on the thrombotic disease found in patients with COVID-19.

There is some data on the way

The authors found 10 studies looking at vitamin C in COVID either alone or with HCQ, zinc, vitamin D, azithromycin. These doses go up to 6-12gm/day. As a reminder, Marik’s study used 6gm/day at 1500mg IV every 6 hours. We can either wait for those studies to be published, or take action using a therapy with no downside. Did I mention it’s inexpensive?

Side effects

Numerous studies looking at vitamin C in sepsis and septic shock have not found adverse effects. Even the recent ORANGES and HYVCTTSSS trials had no side effects. As a side note, patients receiving chemotherapy receive up to 1.5gm/kg.

What next regarding Vitamin C and COVID?

During this time when I have been caring for patients with COVID-19 I have personally been taking 1000mg of Vitamin C per day. My wife bought THIS LARGE JUG (affiliate link, I will earn a 1-5% commission if you buy this) from Amazon. I don’t see anything wrong with adding this to a cocktail that includes melatonin, zinc, and vitamin D. I will say that that’s not a medical recommendation.

Check out this blog post in Podcast form!

Adam F. Feyaerts, Walter Luyten. Vitamin C as prophylaxis and adjunctive medical treatment for COVID-19? Nutrition (2020), doi:
Link to Abstract: You can obtain the article through this link as well

Check out my other work on COVID-19 HERE.

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