Global campaign makes plea for vitamin C and COVID-19

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Global campaign makes plea for vitamin C and COVID-19

Related tags: Vitamin c, COVID-19, HFMA

An international consortium of vitamin C advocates wants regulators to bring vitamin C into the therapeutic bag of measures in the battle against COVID-19.

The VitaminC4Covid​ campaign, so far backed by about 350 leading vitamin C researchers, doctors, healthcare professionals and nutritionists along with 5000+ signatories from about 60 countries, says evidence shows injected or orally taken high doses of vitamin C can halt the onset of severe COVID-19 symptoms.

The UK-led campaign cites a review of 100+ vitamin C trials​ just published in Nutrients​ – some of which are specific to COVID-19; some specific to sepsis and broader respiratory issues – to back its case.    

Lead author of that review and VitaminC4Covid campaign director, Patrick Holford, told NutraIngredients vitamin C data was as strong as that which existed for vitamin D and had the potential to reduce COVID-19 symptoms at low cost and suppress viral replication in the early stages”.

“The critical phase of COVID-19 is a direct result of an inflammatory reaction by the body’s immune system, akin to sepsis, that only occurs if there is a large quantity of dead virus particles,”​ said Holford, who is the founder of the Food for the Brain Foundation and has written 45 nutrition-focused books.

“Early suppression and rapid resolution of symptoms, as shown in cold studies giving 4 to 8 grams of vitamin C in the first 24 hours of infection, has the potential to stop conversion to critical COVID, thus taking the pressure off the National Health Service.”

The Nutrients​ review has been presented to the British Health Minister Matt Hancock as well as the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG), the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) and the National Institute for Clinical Evidence (NICE).

Vitamin C data and deficiencies

Holford said a key campaign focus was raising vitamin C levels in the elderly, for whom a disproportionate percentage are simultaneously affected by COVID-19 and vitamin C deficient.

The campaign seeks £10,000 (€11,000) as a minimum to screen vitamin C levels in Welsh care home residents and £200,000 (€221,000) for a definitive vitamin C and colds trial which, if started during the pandemic would also indicate the protective effect of vitamin C in those with colds that test covid positive.

A randomly controlled trial in Wuhan showed 68% less mortality among critical COVID-19 ICU patients on a ventilator with high dose vitamin C. A Spanish trial showed 17 out of 18 ICU patients had undetectable vitamin C levels.

“The irony is that Zhongnan Hospital ran out of COVID patients by the end of April as a consequence of the Chinese government shipping in 50 tons – 50 million 1g doses - into Wuhan on February 2nd and distributing to all hospitals which not only gave hospitalised patients high doses of vitamin C, intravenously in ICUs, but also gave daily vitamin C to all hospital workers,”​ Holford said.

Professor David Smith from Oxford University’s Department of Pharmacology and VitaminC4Covid Scientific Advisory Board Member, said evidence was mounting “that vitamin C treatment may be beneficial.”

Professor Smith added: “…There are some 30 trials in progress testing the therapeutic benefit of high dose vitamin C in late stage Covid-19.”

Rob Verkerk PhD, founder, executive and scientific director at the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) went further, stating, doctors and other health professionals who avoid recommendations on vitamin C in relation to COVID disease prevention and treatment, should be considered medically negligent.”

‘We’ve had 11 viral epidemics this century

Holford called on food supplement trade groups to back the campaign. We badly need to support to carry out further studies.”

Graham Keen, executive director of the UK’s Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA), said the campaign was being discussed by HFMA Council today.

The current World Health Organisation (WHO) position on supplementation states: “Micronutrients, such as vitamins D and C and zinc, are critical for a well-functioning immune system and play a vital role in promoting health and nutritional well-being.  There is currently no guidance on the use of micronutrient supplements as a treatment of COVID-19.”

Holford, who in 1984 established the Institute for Optimum Nutrition​ with Nobel Prize-winning vitamin C researcher Linus Pauling, said the campaign went beyond vitamin C or even the coronavirus pandemic.

“I hope, within a year, governments and health authorities will have incorporated vitamin C into prevention, early treatment and hospital treatment, not only for COVID-19 but any future viral pandemic.

“We’ve had 11 viral epidemics this century. The reality is there will be more. Vaccines, by their nature, are reactive. Vitamin C, together with vitamin D and zinc, are proactive. Keeping one’s immune system strong is a critical part of any anti-viral strategy.”

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