As the coronavirus continues its relentless onslaught, doctors and medical researchers around the world are working around the clock to develop treatments and vaccines. In New York, as of Wednesday this week, the number of cases is doubling every three days. In response, New York state’s largest hospital network is changing the treatment protocol of some of its most critical coronavirus patients to include Vitamin C.
That’s right, the same Vitamin C that we are urged to take in order to ward off colds and flu – as well as a host of other ills – is being used to help treat COVID-19.
Dr. Andrew G. Weber, a pulmonologist and critical-care specialist who works at two of Long Island’s Northwell Health hospitals, told the New York Post that he has been giving his intensive-care patients who have been infected with the coronavirus 1500mg of intravenous Vitamin C several times a day – anywhere from 4500 to 6000mg in total – as part of an anti-viral protocol.
It is remarkable and unusual for a hospital to include a vitamin as an integral part of its treatment protocol. Is this non-pharmaceutical treatment making any real difference? According to Dr. Weber, “Yes”. “The patients who received vitamin C did significantly better than those who did not get vitamin C,” he said.
“It helps a tremendous amount, but it is not highlighted because it’s not a sexy drug,” he added.
A spokesperson for Northwell Health confirmed that the IV form of Vitamin C was being “widely used” to treat coronavirus patients, though he did not specify exactly how many patients were being treated.
Compared to the daily recommended allowance of Vitamin C – 90mg for men and 75mg for women – 6000mg is a massive dose. But it is worth noting that it is significantly lower than that used in alternative medicine, where dosages of intravenous Vitamin C can range from 25,000mg to 40,000 or higher. Dosages that high, however, are not administered on a daily basis.
U.S. Isn’t the First Country to Fight COVID-19 With Vitamin C
Dr. Weber’s method of treating coronavirus patients is based on an experimental protocol that the Second Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong University (Xibei Hospital) in Shanghai, China, is using to treat its own COVID-19 patients.
On February 21, a news release issued by the hospital provided some detail into the treatment, noting that administering high doses of Vitamin C to its coronavirus patients “achieved good results in clinical applications.”
The hospital further stated [translated]: “We believe that for patients with severe […] pneumonia and other critically ill patients, vitamin C treatment should be initiated as soon as possible after admission.”
In addition, a separate clinical trial to determine the effectiveness and safety of high-dose intravenous Vitamin C in the treatment of coronavirus-infected pneumonia is underway at Zhongnan Hospital in Wuhan, Hubei, China. The study will involve ~140 patients with severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) brought on by COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).
The study’s abstract notes:
“We hypothesize that Vitamin C infusion can help improve the prognosis of patients with SARI. Therefore, it is necessary to study the clinical efficacy and safety of vitamin C for the clinical management of SARI through randomized controlled trials during the current epidemic of SARI.”
Patients in the study will be divided into two groups, with one group receiving infusions of 12,000mg of Vitamin C twice a day for seven days while the other group receives infusions of sterile water.
The study is expected to conclude sometime near the end of September.
All Vitamin C is Not Created Equal
Nearly all of the Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) supplements you see at the supermarket or a drugstore are chemically synthesized, meaning that they are not food-derived. Synthetic Vitamin C is created in a process involving cornstarch and volatile acids. Natural Vitamin C is more complex and contains plant compounds like rutin, bioflavonoids, Factor K, Factor J, Factor P, tyrosinase, and ascorbinogen.
While both forms of Vitamin C provide health benefits, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that, depending on the dosage, less than 50% of the synthetic Vitamin C is actually absorbed by the body. The rest is eliminated when you urinate, creating the bright yellow urine which you see in the toilet. Natural, food-derived Vitamin C, on the other hand, is absorbed in its entirety, assisted by the micro- and macronutrients which are co-factors for the absorption of Vitamin C.
Vitamin C occurs in a wide variety of foods, but most notably in:
- citrus fruit (oranges, grapefruit, lemons)
- kiwi fruit
- black currants
- red and green bell peppers
- cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts)
But the greatest amount of natural Vitamin C by far comes from a fruit that grows in the Amazon rainforest of Peru called Camu-Camu.
Anecdotally, evidence suggests that Camu-Camu powder (or capsules), milligram for milligram, is 50 times as potent, in terms of the therapeutic effects produced, than synthetically created ascorbic acid.
Camu-Camu: A Vitamin C Super Fruit
Camu-Camu (Myrciaria dubia) is the single most potent form of natural Vitamin C in the world. Its large grape-sized fruit contains more than 50 times the amount of Vitamin C in an orange and, unlike synthetic Vitamin C which can cause nausea, upset stomach, diarrhea, and, in larger doses, kidney stones, Camu-Camu has no side effects.
Since Camu-Camu is so effective in tiny doses studies suggest that it produces superior therapeutic effects* as compared to synthetically produced ascorbic acid, it can provide a practical, affordable alternative to expensive, hard to find, intravenous Vitamin C treatments.
If you are planning to try Camu-Camu as your preferred source of Vitamin C, make sure you buy it from a company that guarantees the amount of natural Vitamin C derived from the berries.
Your safest bet of getting through the COVID-19 pandemic unscathed is to do the following:
- practice social isolation
- check in by phone / facetime with your doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms which could be signs of a coronavirus infection
- if you have no symptoms, take high maintenance doses of some form of Vitamin C.
- Follow your doctor’s advice if you are diagnosed with this virus or if the doctor believes you may have it.
- If you do have this virus, or any other virus for that matter, you can also increase the dosage of the form of Vitamin C you choose and take it multiple times a day.
Stay safe and be well.