Vitamin C: Can it protect you from COVID-19?


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Health officials warn against taking large amounts of vitamin C as reports from New York and overseas show promising results in COVID-19 patients given high doses of the supplement. 

As people navigate the global pandemic, many are looking for ways to protect themselves and their loved ones from contracting the virus. 

“Unfortunately, there is nothing. There is nothing out there that has been evidence-based to say there’s anything preventing us from getting COVID-19,” Dr. Ranelle Brew told News 8. “There simply isn’t. There are a lot of myths out there.”

Brew serves as chair and associate professor for the Department of Public Health at Grand Valley State University. 

A doctor in New York recently told the New York Post he saw positive responses in intensive care coronavirus patients who received 1,500 mg of vitamin C up to four times a day through an IV drip.

Similar reports have come out of China, where a clinical trial is underway to study the supplement’s effect on patients. The trial is in its recruitment phase, with results slated for the end of September.

Despite hope that the vitamin can help patients overcome the coronavirus, Brew says nothing is rooted in scientific fact.

“I think there’s just not enough evidence to be able to give anything credibility at this point,” she said. “I think health care providers are trying to take opportunities to try different things and this is really trial and error. There’s just not enough evidence.”

Vitamin C is known to boost one’s immune system, but Brew also warned against ingesting high amounts in an effort to give yourself extra protection.

“The opportunity for us to overstimulate that vitamin in our body is going to give us negative effects and ultimately put us at greater risk,” Brew explained. “So no, I don’t at all recommend that people go into their medicine cabinets and start pulling out what they have available and overdosing on what they have in the cabinet.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, the daily dietary allowance for vitamin C is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women. Most over-the-counter forms of the supplement are 1,000 mg per serving.

Taking excessive amounts is not believed to create serious adverse effects, according to the NIH, but ingesting more than 2,000 mg of the vitamin can lead to diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramps and other gastrointestinal disturbances.

Brew believes the best option for people right now is staying home as much as possible to minimize your chances of contracting the virus. 

“To start taking something that we don’t normally take or taking an over-abundance of something is not only going to be the wrong avenue to go with this, but it’s also going to potentially have harmful effects on our bodies,” she explained.


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