Strolling the aisles of your favorite supermarket or pharmacy will show several shortages: Toilet paper, cleaners and Vitamin C bottles. Hmmm…why Vitamin C? Well, there are reports of high doses of Vitamin C being used for very ill hospitalized Covid-19 patients being studied. These news stories are being extrapolated to the outpatient arena and people believing that taking lots of oral Vitamin C may ward off the Covid virus or make the symptoms much less serious if the virus is contracted.
First, let’s talk Vitamin C: This essential vitamin is found in fruits and vegetables, and is involved with a number of body biochemical processes some of which are involved with immune health. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and it works to neutralize unstable compounds called “free radicals” that can damage different parts of the body.
Concerning its’ role immunity, Vitamin C increases activity of a type of immune cell called “phagocytes” and these cells are involved with “swallowing” organisms such as bacteria. The antioxidant activity of Vitamin C helps reduce inflammation, and as seen by “cytokine storm” destroying lung tissue in severe Covid cases, inflammation is damaging in a number of ways. Vitamin C may also increase the number/function of lymphocytes, yet another cell involved in the immune process.
On the weight control side, there have been some studies showing that Vitamin C deficient people have a more difficult time metabolizing fat.
For those of you my age, you may remember our mothers force-feeding us Vitamin C pills and orange juice, as the Nobel Prize winning biochemist, Linus Pauling, sort of convinced the world that Vitamin C can protect against the common cold. This never was found to be true.
The recommended daily dose of Vitamin C is 60-90 mg a day and too much Vitamin C can lead to nausea and diarrhea.
The bottom line: The scientific proof of Vitamin C protecting against either contracting Covid-19 or lowering symptoms is not present as yet. On the weight control side, there is really no proof that taking “extra” Vitamin C will help people lose and maintain weight loss. Is taking 5-10X the daily recommended dose safe? Yes. WDPT (What Does Posner Take)? 500 mg a day.