HEALTHY LEVEL OF VITAMIN C HELPS TO WIN THE WAR AGAINST COVID-19

 HOPE OR HYPE?

Low vitamin C levels are found in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Vitamin C level declines rapidly in our body when we are unwell even though our immune system's need is increased. A Scottish study revealed that 35% of hospitalized elderly patients due to acute respiratory infections had low level of vitamin C. The UK's National Diet and Nutrition Survey reported that 4% of elderly patients above the age of 65 have low level of vitamin C. This indicated that elderly patients with low vitamin C  status are especially susceptible to critical infection, such as COVID-19. Another study in the US on 21 critically ill COVID-19 patients had unhealthy level of vitamin C or hypovitaminosis C. In a different study conducted in Barcelona ICU, 94% of COVID-19 adults patients had undetectable levels of vitamin C.

Healthy level of vitamin C reduces the risk of COVID-19 infections

There is a link between the risk of respiratory infections  and vitamin C. In the early days, when scurvy was widespread, researchers began to investigate on the deaths due to complication of scurvy. The autopsies showed that pneumonia is the major cause of death in people who were deficient in vitamin C. Study dated as early as 1940's had reported on the preventive effect of vitamin C on respiratory infection. There are also multiple studies that reported significant reductions in respiratory infections with vitamin C supplementation. The Swiss Society of Nutrition recommends vitamin C supplementation  for everyone to 'fill the nutrient gap' especially in adults above the age of 65. This supplementation is targeted to strengthen the immune system.

Vitamin C reduces COVID-19 death

Research is still emerging why some people suffers mild symptoms of COVID-19 while others are critically ill or die. Among those who becomes critically ill have chronic medical condition, who are older or those who developed sepsis. A healthy person is generally prepared to neutralize the threats from infections through the immune system. Most people diagnosed with COVID-19 are able to recover due to their immune system. However, in a small fraction of people, their immunity fail to respond to the infection. Thus, resulting in sepsis. Sepsis is a kind of condition when a series of reactions occur throughout the whole body. It can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and even death. Vitamin C was found to reduce sepsis patients' mortality.  

Vitamin C as a powerful antioxidant

Vitamin C plays an important role as an antioxidant. It assists in the body's self-regulating process to maintain a balanced immune response so it does not over-react and causes damage to the body. While it is crucial to have ROS free radicals to ward-off the pathogens, excessive production of them can cause oxidant injury to our tissues. Excessive productions of pro-inflammatory proteins known as cytokines and chemokines results in the development of multiple organ failure. Multiple organ failure is often seen in the critical stages of COVID-19. Vitamin C has the potential to lessen ROS production, thus, inflammation burden to the body.

The body's anti-viral defence activity is potentiated by vitamin C

Vitamin C boosts the activity of phagocytes, the immune cells that 'swallow' harmful pathogens. It also encourages the production of white blood cells such as neutrophils. In addition, vitamin C promotes the growth and spread of lymphocytes, a type of immune cell that increases the circulating antibodies to attack the harmful pathogen in the body. Vitamin C was also found to reduce the conversion from mild to the critical phase of COVID-19. While SARS-CoV-2  (the virus strain that causes COVID-19) reduces the expression of our bodies' primary anti-viral defence mechanism, vitamin C is found to increase these key defence proteins. Vitamin C demonstrates a direct virucidal activity.

Vitamin C reduces the hospitalisation stays due to COVID-19

Vitamin C supplementation is observed to reduce the length of ICU stays due to COVID-19. It is also found to reduce the ventilation usage in critical COVID-19 patients. In the Chinese Journal of Infection Diseases, doses higher than the daily recommended dosage given  through IV is demonstrated to improve lungs function. It helps to keep patients suffering from the critical phase of COVID-19 off a mechanical ventilation or life support. A 2019 review found that vitamin C shortens the duration of mechanical ventilation by 18.2%.

Get better faster with a healthy level of Vitamin C

Vitamin C may help to alleviate the symptoms of COVID-19 making you get well faster. Given the effect of vitamin C on colds, vitamin C consumption may benefits the body by reducing the duration and severity of cold symptoms 

Vitamin C keep the skin healthy

Vitamin C keeps the skin healthy by boosting collagen production. Collagen helps to reinforce the skin structural barrier to keep harmful pathogens from entering the body. Vitamin C also promotes the oxidant scavenging activity of the skin, thereby potentially protecting against environmental oxidative stress.

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