You may have noticed the vitamin C section of the supplement aisle looking bare these days or seen the claims on social media that vitamin C can help with COVID-19.
While physicians and researchers are studying the effects of high dose intravenous (IV) vitamin C on the new coronavirus, no supplement, including vitamin C, can prevent or treat COVID-19.
This article reviews what vitamin C is, how it affects immunity, how it’s being tried for COVID-19 treatment in a hospital setting, and whether taking an oral supplement is beneficial.
Vitamin C and COVID-19
In an article published in the Chinese Journal of Infection Diseases, the Shanghai Medical Association endorsed the use of high dose vitamin C as a treatment for hospitalized people with COVID-19.
Doses that are magnitudes higher than the DV are recommended to be given through IV to improve lung function, which may help keep a patient off of mechanical ventilation or life support.
Additionally, a 2019 review found that both oral and IV high dose vitamin C treatment may aid people admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) for critical illnesses by reducing ICU stay length by 8% and shortening the duration of mechanical ventilation by 18.2% .
Chinese researchers have also registered a clinical trial to further study the effectiveness of IV vitamin C in hospitalized people with COVID-19.
However, it’s important to note that vitamin C is not yet a standard part of the treatment plan for COVID-19 because evidence is still lacking.
Though high dose IV vitamin C is currently being tested to see if it can improve lung function in people with COVID-19, no evidence suggests that high doses of oral vitamin C supplements can help with the disease. In fact, they can cause complications like diarrhea.