- Vitamins C and D are finally being adopted in the conventional treatment of novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. This fortunate turn of events is likely to save thousands of lives, while keeping health care costs down
- Seriously ill coronavirus patients in New York state’s largest hospital system receive 1,500 milligrams of intravenous vitamin C three to four times a day, in conjunction with other conventional treatments
- Vitamin C at extremely high doses acts as an antiviral drug, actually killing viruses
- In recent articles, former CDC chief Dr. Tom Frieden and Dr. John C. Umhau, a public health specialist at NIH, highlight the usefulness of sun exposure and/or vitamin D supplementation to reduce your risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection
- Although vitamin D does not appear to have a direct effect on viruses, it does strengthen immune function, thus allowing the host body to combat the virus more effectively. It also suppresses inflammatory processes
Another powerful component in the prevention and treatment of influenza is vitamin D. Although vitamin D does not appear to have a direct effect on the virus itself, it does strengthen immune function, thus allowing the host body to combat the virus more effectively. It also suppresses inflammatory processes. Taken together, this might make vitamin D useful against SARS-CoV-2 infection.
My claim that vitamin D can cut infection risk was publicly vindicated March 24, 2020, when former U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chief Dr. Tom Frieden published an opinion piece on Fox News stating that "Coronavirus infection risk may be reduced by vitamin D."12 In it, Frieden writes:
- "There are many crackpot claims about miracle cures floating around, but the science supports the possibility — although not the proof — that Vitamin D may strengthen the immune system, particularly of people whose Vitamin D levels are low.
- Vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of respiratory infection, regulates cytokine production and can limit the risk of other viruses such as influenza.
- A respiratory infection can result in cytokine storms — a vicious cycle in which our inflammatory cells damage organs throughout the body — which increase mortality for those with COVID-19. Adequate vitamin D may potentially provide some modest protection for vulnerable populations …
- Right now, we don't know if vitamin D deficiency plays any role in the severity of COVID-19. But given the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in this country, it is safe to recommend that people get the proper daily dosage of vitamin D.
- Most people's bodies manufacture vitamin D in the skin when exposed to the sun. About 15 minutes a day of direct sunlight is sufficient for many people's bodies to manufacture enough vitamin D; people with darker skin need longer exposure to sunlight to manufacture the same amount.
- In winter, people in northern latitudes may not be able to make any vitamin D from sunlight. Sunscreen lengthens the exposure time needed. Many people, then, need vitamin D supplementation."
Similarly, in a March 25, 2020, MedPage Today article,13 Dr. John C. Umhau writes:
"As a public health specialist at the National Institutes of Health, I outlined how a lack of sun-induced vitamin D in the winter and early spring leads to epidemic acute respiratory infections (and this probably includes viruses like COVID-19).
That review, cited almost a thousand times, argued that groups with low vitamin D levels — the obese and the elderly and those with dark skin — may require 5,000 IU of vitamin D each day to obtain the 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels of 50 ng/mL that appear to protect against viral respiratory infection.
A government-sponsored research strategy to address this issue has not been developed, as officials explained that there was no mandate to explore an alternative to the existing vaccination program.
However, other researchers picked up the ball and provided convincing evidence that vitamin D could reduce the incidence of acute respiratory infection."
While Umhau specifies a daily dosage, it's crucial to remember that required dosages can vary widely from one person to another, and that the most important factor here is your blood level. You simply must adjust the vitamin D dose based on your specific recently measured vitamin D level.
I (Mercola) haven't swallowed oral vitamin D for over a decade and my D level is over 70 ng/mL, as I walk in the sun nearly every day for one hour with my shirt off. I take no supplemental vitamin D. For those who are unable to get sun exposure and have low levels, doses of vitamin D3 may be 10,000 units a day or even higher, but the only way to know is to measure your blood levels.
For that, you must get tested, and then take whatever dosage required to get into the ideal range. While 50 ng/mL may be sufficient, I recommend a vitamin D level between 60 ng/mL and 80 ng/mL for optimal health and disease prevention. GrassrootsHealth's D*Action research has shown you need at least 40 ng/mL to lower your risk of many diseases.14
In his article Umhau cites a 2017 meta-analysis15 of 25 randomized controlled trials showing vitamin D supplementation helped prevent acute respiratory infections. Those with vitamin D blood levels below 10 ng/mL, which is a serious deficiency state, cut their risk of infection by half, while people with higher vitamin D levels reduced their risk by about 10%.
Importantly, they found that, among those with severe vitamin D deficiency at baseline, you only need to treat four individuals in order to prevent one infection. That's FAR more effective than influenza vaccination, which requires 71 individuals to be vaccinated in order to prevent a single case of influenza.16
According to this international research team, vitamin D supplementation could prevent more than 3.25 million cases of cold and flu each year in the U.K. alone.17 In my view, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best strategies available to prevent respiratory illness of all kinds.
Umhau also points out that:18
"Critical care research19 also documents the important effect of vitamin D on survival in ICU patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome. There are several mechanisms by which vitamin D activity is critical for immune defense: vitamin D acts to maintain tight junctions, promote the effect of antimicrobial peptides (i.e., cathelicidin and defensins), and moderate the inflammatory response.20
Aggressively identifying and treating people with vitamin D deficiency is one potential strategy to reduce the risk of COVID-19. As outlined in the BMJ review, regularly taking oral vitamin D3 mitigates infection, although the optimal oral dose is debatable.
Bolus doses do not appear to provide benefit against infection, possibly through a dysregulation of vitamin D metabolism. There may be a simple yet effective alternative.
Since exposing the whole body to bright sunlight can provide long-lasting and rapid correction of deficiency, this may provide a critical boost to host immune defenses. Lacking definitive research, any risk of exposing the body to sunshine while sheltering in place is clearly outweighed by the risk of COVID-19."
Based on the available scientific evidence, there's no reason to ignore vitamins C and D for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections.
Remember to test your vitamin D level. Do it at home and stay away from hospitals unless you're already having symptoms of worsening respiratory infection, such as difficulty breathing. The level you're aiming for is 60 ng/mL.
GrassrootsHealth makes testing easy by offering an inexpensive vitamin D testing kit as part of its consumer-sponsored research. All revenues from these kits go directly to GrassrootsHealth. I make no profit from these kits and only provide them as a service of convenience to my readers.
Vitamin C is also a crucial aid, both for the prevention and treatment of viral illnesses. You can find pertinent reports and research about vitamin C against COVID-19 on the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service website.21 I recommend using liposomal vitamin C, as it allows you to take far higher dosages than regular vitamin C (as regular vitamin C is limited by your bowel tolerance).
Dr. Robert Rowen, whom I recently interviewed about the use of vitamin C and ozone therapy for COVID-19, suggests taking upward of 6 grams (6,000 mg) per hour for acute illness, to simulate intravenous administration levels. Prophylactically, it is not recommended to take such high doses.
The only contraindication to high-dose vitamin C treatment is if you are glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficient, which is a genetic disorder.22 G6PD is required for your body to produce NADPH, which is necessary to transfer reductive potential to keep antioxidants, such as vitamin C, functional.
Because your red blood cells do not contain any mitochondria, the only way it can provide reduced glutathione is through NADPH, and since G6PD eliminates this, it causes red blood cells to rupture due to inability to compensate for oxidative stress.
Fortunately, G6PD deficiency is relatively uncommon, and can be tested for. People of Mediterranean and African decent are at greater risk of being G6PD deficient. Worldwide, G6PD deficiency is thought to affect 400 million individuals, and in the U.S., an estimated 1 in 10 African-American males has it.23 Be sure to read this Thursday's lead article on one of the most important preventive and therapeutic strategies for COVID-19.
- 1, 2 New York Post March 24, 2020
- 3 Chest 2016. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2016.11.036
- 4 Clinicaltrials.gov Identifier NCT04264533
- 5 American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care MedicineJanuary 9, 2020 Epub ahead of print
- 6, 7 Science Daily January 22, 2020
- 8, 9 Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy December 2003; 52(6): 1049-1050
- 10 Archives of Virology 1978;56(3):195-9
- 11 Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 1994;64(3):212-9
- 12 Fox News March 24, 2020
- 13, 18 MedPage Today March 25, 2020
- 14 GrassrootsHealth, Let’s Level the Playing Field With Vitamin D
- 15 BMJ 2017; 356:i6583
- 16 Cochrane.org
- 17 BBC.com February 16, 2017
- 19 Thorax 2015;70:617-624
- 20 Preprints, Version 1: Vitamin D Supplementation Could Prevent and Treat Influenza, Coronavirus, and Pneumonia Infections
- 21 Orthomolecular Medicine News Service