Vitamin C can save the lives of those badly affected by SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 disease, and make symptoms of milder infections less severe. This is a key finding from a major review just published by senior experts from around the world.
Results from more than a 100 studies, included a gold-standard randomised controlled trial which showed that vitamin C could cut the death rate of patients in intensive care units by 68%. The patients received vitamin C or sterile water from a drip. A similar trial comparing the steroid drug dexamethasone with a placebo in June was hailed as a success, but reduced deaths by just 3%.
The amount of vitamin C needed to reduce deaths and time on ventilators in ICUs was 6–24 g/day, says lead author and nutritionist Patrick Holford. Another author, Dr Anitra Carr, explained why such high doses are needed: “When you get a severe infection, your body uses up vitamin C at a much faster rate in order to support the immune system.
“That’s because humans are one of the few animals that cannot make vitamin C, so we cannot increase supplies when needed.” Dr Carr, who is associate professor at the University of Otago in New Zealand, points out that only animals that do not make vitamin C – primates, guinea pigs and bats – are susceptible to COVID-19.
The full scientific review paper, published in the journal Nutrients, can be downloaded as a PDF here.