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  • Writer's pictureChin Ling

Vitamin C to fight a Virus

Updated: Sep 16, 2022

“The disease is not the virus; the disease is the interaction of the virus with an individual and their own unique immune system which produces … their own unique set of outcomes.” Dr Jeffrey Bland.

So what can you change? You change the interaction of the virus with the person. Each person’s immunity is influenced by their lifestyle and their environment. We all have a certain level of resistance to disease and infection which will fluctuate in correlation to how we live.

If you’ve always believed you get everything you need from your diet, you may choose to rethink that with regard to vitamin C. It has been found that patients suffering from the coronavirus in care homes had low levels of vitamins C and D so had almost no reserve stores to ready an immune defence.

Why do I need vitamin C supplements when I can just eat an orange? Several decades ago you could get a substantial amount of vitamin C from fruit and vegetables, oranges being the ideal example. However, these days, the vitamin C content of an orange can range from just 150mg down to 0mg, with an average of 60mg. Yes, some oranges have zero vitamin C. 100g of raw spinach will give you 28mg of vitamin C and you may get just over 300mg for a bell pepper. The figure for the recommended daily intake stands at 70-80mg so maybe eating 1 orange will be good enough … to prevent you getting scurvy. But to boost your immune system and keep it prepped and ready for an infection you realistically are looking at 2g, that’s 2000mg. Some nutritional doctors recommend double that. Per day.

Why is vitamin C important? As soon as a virus enters the body, various key players of the immune system are called into action. Their job is to engulf and destroy the virus and eventually make antibodies to store in memory for later, and while doing this they use up huge amounts of vitamin C. The body will always draw on its stores of vitamin C (and other nutrients) to restore itself and when sick, it will use this up more quickly.

While it’s fighting a virus, the body produces an enormous amount of oxidants which in turn, cause more inflammation and it is this that can affect some sufferers more than the virus itself, especially if the lungs or alveoli become inflamed. Vitamin C is required to dampen down that inflammatory response and can work very well at controlling this in the lungs. In fact, vitamin C is very useful if you suffer from asthma or hayfever as it powers glutathione. Glutathione - often called the master anti-oxidant because it boosts other anti-oxidants - protects cells from damage and ageing, and fights chronic inflammation.

We humans, along with guinea pigs cannot produce vitamin C. Animals that do produce their own do so very rapidly and in large quantities when their health is under attack. As C is a water soluble vitamin, the safety margins are very high and if you do consume a lot, you know it will not stay in the body for long. The body takes what it needs, it excretes what it does not. Some people might view this as a waste of taking the vitamin in the first place since it is stored for only a short period. However, for the 4 to 5 hours that it is in the body, it is an absolute superpower! For quantities of 2g and more, ascorbic acid is probably the most economical medium. Taking a lot of the fizzy tablets could affect your teeth.

Lastly, according to Jerome Burne, while we’re waiting for a vaccine to magically eradicate the virus, we should take steps now to boost our immunity. A major part of the effectiveness of a virus relies on us having good immunity.

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