Vitamin C can be included in the therapy for almost all diseases, including the therapy of virus infection – not only in mild cases but also when the course is severe and a hospital stay is necessary.
Vitamin C in action during a virus pandemic
Vitamin C is – at least in China and the USA – apparently used in some clinics to treat severe viral infections such as e.g. B. Covid-19 used and could also be very well suited to relieve the health systems during flu outbreaks – not least because of its low price.
However, the vitamin continues to be underestimated by most conventional medical practitioners and by the official nutritional institutions. Because how often do we hear or read the sentence that nutrition provides us with all the vitamins so wonderfully – including vitamin C – that an additional intake does not bring any advantages? Far from it, as has been shown again and again.
Vitamin C shortens the time in intensive care units
We already wrote here ( Vitamin C shortens the time in intensive care units ) from a meta-analysis from 2019, in which it was found that oral administration of vitamin C can shorten the length of stay in intensive care units and that one should therefore always take a vitamin in the corresponding patients -C-gift should think.
In the article linked above, we explain that sick people, in particular, have a low vitamin C level or have an increased need for vitamin C and would have to take around 4 grams of vitamin C daily (according to various studies) in order to reach C levels that are normal for a healthy person.
It is better to take vitamin C in higher doses in times of crisis
In the above-mentioned meta-analysis, 1 to 3 grams of vitamin C per day led to a shorter stay in the intensive care unit, with vitamin C also reducing the time required for artificial ventilation. In view of these intake quantities, the 100 mg of vitamin C recommended by official sources and always described as completely sufficient sounds somewhat questionable.
In connection with cardiovascular health, it has long been known that higher doses of vitamin C are required. We presented here ( Vitamin C improves vascular functions ) a meta-analysis from 2014. In it, researchers based on 44 randomized and controlled studies concluded that people with cardiovascular problems only benefited from vitamin C doses of more than 500 mg per day.
The use of vitamin C in infectious diseases has been discussed since 2004 at the latest – at that time in view of the SARS pandemic. Harri Hemilä from the University of Helsinki wrote in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy at the time that vitamin C increased the resistance of chickens to a typical avian coronavirus. Placebo-controlled studies in humans have shown that the duration of common colds can be reduced with the help of vitamin C, so it can be assumed that the risk of viral infections of the respiratory tract also depends on vitamin C levels.
Three controlled studies have also found that people are less likely to develop pneumonia when they supplement with vitamin C.
High-dose vitamin C infusions in Covid-19 patients
A vitamin C clinical study was conducted in China from February to the end of September 2020, led by Dr. ZhiYong Peng, Professor of Intensive Care Medicine at the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Hubei.
The participants all had a severe course of Covid-19 and were in intensive care with acute respiratory distress syndrome. They received either 12 g of vitamin C per infusion twice a day for 7 days or a placebo. They wanted to find out if vitamin C could shorten the time on artificial respiration, reduce mortality, prevent organ failure and slow the progression of inflammation.
True, the vitamin could not reduce the time of artificial respiration, nor did it reduce mortality. However, it was observed that the lung function of the patients treated with vitamin C improved continuously (the so-called oxygenation index increased continuously), which was not the case in the placebo group. Inflammation levels were also lower in the vitamin C group than in the placebo group.
While the results weren’t as positive as one had hoped, vitamin C treatment had clear benefits that shouldn’t be missed.
Corona experts recommend this vitamin C dose
On March 1, 2020, a publication of the Shanghai Medical Association Chinese Journal of Infectious Diseases ) read a Covid-19 treatment recommendation – developed by 30 corona experts from Shanghai.
They tested the intravenous administration of vitamin C in Covid-19 on 300 patients and recommend the following procedure for Covid therapy (in addition to the usual medication): Depending on the severity of the disease, the patient should be given between 50 and 200 mg of vitamin C per day Kilograms of body weight are administered intravenously, which in an adult weighing z. B. 70 kilograms would be 3.5 to 14 g of vitamin C.
This is how vitamin C works in sepsis and pneumonia
When sepsis occurs (systemic infection followed by an excessive immune response), large amounts of cytokines (inflammatory messengers) are released. At the same time, there is a strong accumulation of certain defense cells (neutrophilic granulocytes) in the lungs, which leads to the destruction of the pulmonary capillaries.
According to previous studies – according to the researchers around Dr. Peng in their description of the study – effectively preventing precisely this process. Vitamin C also helps to prevent the accumulation of fluid in the lungs that occur with pneumonia by reducing the accumulation of granulocytes in the lung tissue described above.
This is how vitamin C works for colds and flu
It is also known that vitamin C (when taken orally) reduces the duration of colds and can also prevent colds, especially in people who are physically active. In the case of the latter, the number of colds could be halved thanks to vitamin C. The preventive effect was better with 500 mg per day than with only 50 mg of vitamin C.
In one study, for example, a cold was significantly less severe if the participants took 1 g of vitamin C every hour (for 6 hours) at the beginning of the illness and then 1 g of vitamin C three times a day for the following days.
In his summary of vitamin C and infectious diseases, the Finnish vitamin C researcher Harri Hemilä writes that the duration of colds (according to two studies) can be reduced preferably with high doses of 6 to 8 g of vitamin C per day so that The repeated statements that vitamin C is not useful for colds probably relate to studies in which vitamin C doses that were too low (e.g. 200 mg) were used.
Vitamin C relieves the course of pneumonia
Hemilä also points to three controlled studies in which vitamin C was able to prevent pneumonia and two other controlled studies in which vitamin C treatment also brought relief to existing (flu-related) pneumonia, for example giving patients only 9 instead of 12 days had to stay in the hospital for days.
Animal studies with swine flu viruses (H1N1 viruses) showed that supplementation of red ginseng with vitamin C activated immune cells (T-cells and NK-cells), prevented viruses from developing and reduced the virus-related inflammatory processes in the lungs, consequently increasing the survival rate.
Vitamin C deficiency increases the risk of influenza
Other flu studies have shown that vitamin C deficiency increases the risk of catching the flu and can make it more severe if you have flu. In the case of sepsis or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), there have been inconsistent study results so far, according to Hemilä in his review article.
“Never take high doses of vitamin C!”
Although all these indications of the effects of vitamin C sound very promising and although vitamin C does not cause any damage even in high doses (with the short-term and therapeutic use recommended here), the following is once again repeated like a mantra:
“The doses used in studies are well above the recommended daily dose and there is currently insufficient evidence to justify the use of high doses of vitamin C in pneumonia. You should therefore never take high doses of vitamin C, as this can have side effects such as diarrhea.”
Side effect Diarrhea is only temporary
Conclusion: It is, therefore, possible (even if this has not yet been 100 percent scientifically proven) to alleviate or avert a serious and possibly fatal disease with high doses of vitamin C. However, it is strongly discouraged to even try it because you could possibly get diarrhea. Diarrhea, which does not occur in everyone, which moreover – if such a hypersensitivity should be present – is reversible after stopping the vitamin C and leaves no permanent damage.
Other side effects that are often said to be associated with high doses of vitamin C, such as an increased risk of kidney stones, are not relevant to short-term high-dose vitamin C therapy in times of crisis. Secondly, there is every indication that the risk of kidney stones with high doses of vitamin C (which is also very low) increases less because of the vitamin C but has other causes, e.g. B. only increases if you are undersupplied with magnesium at the same time or are chronically dehydrated. You can read the details in our article on the risk of kidney stones from vitamin C.
Take vitamin C in times of crisis
It is therefore worthwhile to ensure an optimal vitamin C supply in times of crisis. Below we present vitamin C-rich foods that show that an overall healthy diet with lots of fruit and vegetables can provide up to 500 mg of vitamin C per day.
These foods are particularly rich in vitamin C
Fruits, herbs, and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin C, while animal foods contain almost no vitamin C. The following foods are particularly rich in vitamin C (always per 100 g of the raw food, unless otherwise stated):
Herbs, vegetables, and salads
- Parsley 160 mg
- wild garlic 150 mg
- Red pepper 120 mg
- Brussels sprouts 110 mg
- Kale 100 mg
- Broccoli cooked at 90 mg
- Cress/watercress 60 mg
- Kohlrabi 60 mg
- Spinach 50 mg
Raw sauerkraut 20 mg (it is therefore not as rich in vitamin C as many think; the vitamin C content is even as “high” as in cooked white cabbage; raw white cabbage contains 45 mg of vitamin C).
- Sea Buckthorn Juice 260 mg
- Blackcurrants 170 mg
- Papaya 80 mg
- Strawberries 60 mg
- Oranges/Lemons/Fresh Orange/Lemon Juice 50 mg
We have also presented 7 tips for optimal vitamin C supply here ( How vitamin C helps the heart ). These tips include hints on what to look out for when consuming vitamin C-rich foods in order to enjoy the greatest possible amounts of vitamin C. Because vitamin C can evaporate through storage, exposure to heat, long transport routes, cooling, etc.
Choose high-quality vitamin C supplements
However, since it is difficult to obtain the therapeutically relevant amounts of vitamin C of several grams per day even with a diet rich in fruit and vegetables and, in the event of illness, one usually has little appetite anyway and eats little, one takes vitamin C to be on the safe side in the form of vitamin C preparations, for example from acerola cherries, rose hips or sea buckthorn berries.
But even with these natural vitamin C supplements, the amount of vitamin C intake is usually limited. High-dose vitamin C preparations therefore often contain ascorbic acid (the pure vitamin C from the laboratory) – either exclusively or as an admixture to natural vitamin C sources.