Putting the ‘C’ in Covid
Most animals are able to produce vitamin C within their bodies, naturally transforming glucose into ascorbate and ascorbic acid. Humans and other primates however, have lost this ability somewhere along the evolutionary ladder, which means we can only get this essential nutrient through our diet. Gorillas for example need to ingest at least 4000 mg a day whilst smaller monkeys need in the region of a gram a day to stay healthy. The NHS recommends that an adult male should ingest 60 mg a day, which is less than a tenth of that of a monkey who is a fraction of our size. Is that enough? Well it certainly is enough to keep scurvy at bay but maybe we need more to be considered in optimum health. To answer this let us first establish what vitamin C actually does within the body.
Vitamin C functions as an aid in many enzymatic reactions that occur in a variety of biological functions, including wound healing and collagen production. It is of particular use in the immune system as it increases the production and function of our ‘immune’ cells. White blood cells contain 10 times as much vitamin C as red blood cells, as our ‘killer’ cells use it to fight viruses. It is also known as a neuraminidase inhibitor, which is the enzyme that spike viruses use to enter a cell, so it can help slow down viral infection. On top of this vitamin C is an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory and is a proven bacteriacide.
Considering all of this it should therefore come as no surprise that vitamin C has been recommended for both the prevention and treatment of covid-19. It is still early days, so no long term studies have been conducted but early research indicates that many of those who have been hospitalised by covid related symptoms, show an acute deficiency in vitamin C. The amount of vitamin C needed skyrockets during a viral infection, as it is a super fuel for the immune system. Take the goat for example which is roughly the same weight as an adult human. On an average day a goat will produce 13,000 mg of vitamin C, the equivalent of over 150 lemons. However when it encounters a life threatening illness then the production rises to as much as 100,000 mg, over 1200 lemons! This makes the recommended amount of 60 mg a day seem rather paltry, especially when faced with a viral attack.
There are many studies underway at the moment looking into this and the doses of vitamin C being used are much higher. Initial research suggests that upon first signs of infection 3000mg should be taken immediately then 1000mg every hour. Nearly 50% of those who follow this protocol report no symptoms after 24 hours. In another recent study performed on those already hospitalised with covid, an intravenous drip of 3000mg of vitamin C alongside steroids and anticoagulants resulted in zero deaths. This is the preferred protocol used in hospitals in Wuhan, where they are currently experiencing zero deaths and are receiving 50 tonne shipments of Vitamin C.
Although the scientific jury is still out and longer and wider studies are in trial, it really can’t hurt to stock up with serious amounts of this essential vitamin. It is relatively harmless and the only side effect of high doses seems to be that of diarrhea, where any excess will be expelled in this way. In fact proponents of high vitamin C therapy recommend finding your own ‘bowel tolerance’ whereby you experiment to find your maximum dose before saturation is reached and the excess is excreted. Tolerance will clearly be remarkably higher during infection.
All of this may lead to the question of ‘why is this information not made more readily available by the government and health services?’ and I fear the answer lies in the other great attribute of vitamin C: it is really cheap.