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Does Vitamin C shut down the coronavirus?

Published Mar 26th, 2020 11:04AM EDT
coronavirus vitamin c

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  • Vitamin C, given at high doses, is claimed to shorten the length of coronavirus infection, but evidence remains thin. 
  • Reports out of China aren’t well-sourced, and scientists in the United States and abroad have criticized the notion that flooding the body with vitamin C will have any dramatic effect for COVID-19 patients. 
  • There is still no “magic bullet” for coronavirus, and while we wait for a vaccine to be developed, social distancing and other precautions are our best bet to remain healthy. 
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

We’re in the midst of a pandemic right now and most people are doing absolutely anything they can think of to keep themselves safe and healthy. Inevitably, that means supposed cures will pop up with little to no evidence to support them. Right now, Vitamin C is a hot topic, with some claiming that high doses have been proven to help infected individuals recover from the illness. Others, including some of the world’s top health experts, aren’t so sure.

Some of the boldest claims about vitamin C’s effectiveness have come out of China, with YouTube channels claiming to be legitimate sources detail the results of clinical trials they claim are being conducted. One supposed test utilized high doses of vitamin C, given intravenously, for between 7 and 10 days.

The results of these claimed tests showed dramatic improvement in some patients, including those with severe symptoms who are said to have received doses as high as 50,000 mg over just a four-hour period. These patients experienced significant improvement in lung function, according to the reports.

It’s important to note that many of these early reports are poorly sourced, and hoping for a peer-reviewed study that shows the effectiveness of any vitamin against a coronavirus infection is unrealistic at best. In the meantime, these reports are being criticized by others in the healthcare community who are seeking to debunk the idea that vitamin C will dramatically improve the condition of someone suffering from COVID-19.

“Although vitamin C does have some small effect on the common cold, it’s unlikely that taking large amounts of vitamin C supplements will cure a COVID-19 infection – or have a large effect at all,” Peter McCaffery, a professor of biochemistry, writes in The Conversation. “Even if intravenous vitamin C works to shorten or cure COVID-19, it will likely only be a stop-gap before therapies directed at the virus, such as vaccinations, take over.”

Put simply, there’s no reliable evidence to support the idea that vitamin C will either prevent or cure a coronavirus infection at this time. Vitamin C is thought to support immune system function, and it’s possible that having adequate levels of the vitamin in your body could help you endure the infection better than someone who is deficient, but we just don’t have the data to say anything concrete, yet.

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