Nutritional support during coronavirus pandemic

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Nutritional support during coronavirus pandemic

How to prevent or minimise the symptoms of viral infection with vitamin C.

by Dr. Julie Chen BSc, ND (CAN) | Science & Innovation, Melrose

We are experiencing an unprecedented world situation and care for self and others will be critical to healing. In fact, one of life’s most profound miracles is our body’s innate ability to heal.

Healthy bodies have an extraordinary capability to defend against deadly pathogens and to recover from invasions and resulting injuries. This complex function of our immune system often goes on silently in the background without conscious effort but where there is a pandemic, and the threat of an infection without cure surrounds us, we can look internally. We can look for ways to strengthen our innate ability to fend off pathogens. We can provide our body and its cells with reinforcements so that it can attack pathogens efficiently and quickly and without so much collateral damage that causes irreparable harm. This is where nutrient-dense foods, extra vitamins and minerals, and other plant compounds can support our natural defenses and healing.

Through scientific and clinical research, scientists and doctors have identified that one vitamin in particular, vitamin C, is able to have significant influence on the coronavirus infection.

Orthomolecular medicine is “the practice of preventing and treating disease by providing the body with optimal amounts of substances which are natural to the body” (1). The Orthomolecular Medicine News Service (OMNS), from the education website dedicated to orthomolecular medicine, has published a number of articles presenting vitamin C research and its impact on infection. 

The physician group summarised that vitamin C has been used for treatment of pneumonia, the main cause of death from coronavirus, as early as 1936 (2). The susceptibility of hosts to a virus and pneumonia is correlated to low levels of vitamin C in the system (3).

One study found that vitamin C, even at doses as low as 200mg a day, helped decrease mortality in severely ill, elderly hospitalised patients with acute respiratory infections (3).

Even in children and infants with pneumonia, vitamin C supplementation used within a gold standard study, showed benefits to help reduce mortality (4).

Currently, there are no proven treatments against the new coronavirus because it had not been seen before and clinical studies have not been completed. Vitamin C has been shown to be effective in the treatment protocols against other infectious viruses, including influenza (5,6). 

The international group of physicians of the OMNS, as well as the International Society for Orthomolecular Medicine, have provided a nutrient-based method to prevent or minimise symptoms for viral infection (11). They have recommended the following dosage for adults (children’s dose can be reduced in proportion to body weight):

Vitamin C: 3000mg (or more) daily, to be taken in divided doses (5)
Vitamin D3: 2000 IU daily (7,8)
Zinc: 20mg daily (9,10)

All three nutritional ingredients can be found in Melrose Essential C+ Immune. Take ½ metric teaspoon with water 2‒3 times per day to fulfill the recommendations above. OMNS physicians also recommended adding magnesium and selenium to the regime.

Vitamin C can be administered orally and, in some severely ill patients, may be administered in high doses intravenously. For prevention purposes, vitamin C has shown to help prevent infection as well as acute lung injury and respiratory distress (11). 

  1., accessed March 2020.
  2. Gander and Niederberger. Vitamin C in the handling of pneumonia. Munch. Med. Wchnschr., 31: 2074, 1936.
  3. Hunt C et al. The clinical effects of Vitamin C supplementation in elderly hospitalised patients with acute respiratory infections. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 1994;64:212-19. 
  4. Khan IM et al. (2014) Efficacy of vitamin C in reducing duration of severe pneumonia in children. J Rawalpindi Med Col (JRMC). 18(1):55-57.
  5. Gorton HC, Jarvis K (1999) The effectiveness of vitamin C in preventing and relieving the symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections. J Manip Physiol Ther, 22:8, 530-533.
  6. Yejin Kim, Hyemin Kim, Seyeon Bae et al. (2013) Vitamin C is an essential factor on the anti-viral immune responses through the production of interferon-α/β at the initial stage of influenza A virus (H3N2) infection. Immune Netw. 13:70-74.
  7. Cannell JJ, Vieth R, Umhau JC et al. (2006) Epidemic influenza and vitamin D. Epidemiol Infect. 134:1129-1140.
  8. Martineau AR, Jolliffe DA, Hooper RL et al. (2017) Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. BMJ. 356:i6583.
  9. Mocchegiani E, Muzzioli M. (2000) Therapeutic application of zinc in human immunodeficiency virus against opportunistic infections. J Nutr. 130:1424S-1431S.
  10. Liu MJ, Bao S, Gálvez-Peralta M, et al. (2013) ZIP8 regulates host defense through zinc-mediated inhibition of NF-кB. Cell Rep. 3:386-400.
  11. Vitamin C Protects Against Coronavirus. OMNS Jan 26, 2020