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Vitamin C and Covid-19: Does it confer any benefits?

Vitamin C and Covid-19: Does it confer any benefits?

Data about vitamin C (ascorbic acid) usage among patients with Covid-19 are insufficient to recommend for or against its administration. However, it remains one of the most commonly used drugs during the pandemic. In today’s article, we take a deep look at what vitamin C does to the body and why it’s such a sensation during this pandemic.

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that has a tremendous effect on the integrity of body tissues and metabolic processes. For every wound that heals, there’s a vitamin C molecule involved. For every catecholamine generated, ascorbic acid has acted as a cofactor in the process. Vitamin C may confer favourable effects among patients who are critically ill.

The profound effects of vitamin C in the body stem from its ability to donate an electron during many biologic processes – it acts as a biologic reducing agent. These electrons help maintain the integrity of many body enzymes.

It is for this reason that vitamin C is a potent antioxidant. It donates an electron to reduce oxygen radicals generated during oxidative stress – a common feature of many inflammatory processes. The antioxidant capabilities help stabilise other biologic molecules like vitamin E, folic acid, among others. It specifically turns folic acid into usable forms.

Fatty acid transport, collagen synthesis, neurotransmitter synthesis, prostaglandin metabolism, and nitric oxide synthesis all require ascorbic acid in one of the processes, that when deficient, will be impaired.

Due to its crucial involvement in collagen synthesis, ascorbic acid forms an integral portion of fastened wound healing. It thus provides a barrier through an intact skin and integument system.

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The ability to reduce free oxygen radicals, vitamin C provides potent anti-inflammatory capabilities that impact body immunity and the integrity of blood vessels. It is noteworthy that moderate-to-severe Covid-19 leads to the generation of multiple inflammatory factors like interleukins. A gush of such factors storms the body disintegrating its core processes that impair its ability to mount a robust immunity against such a disease. Various clinical trials are discovering the role of vitamin C in ameliorating the deleterious effects of Covid-19: the results are far from over. However, the available evidence is too limited to either recommend for or against ascorbic acid usage. The discretion solely remains with the attending health care provider to prescribe it for any patient and at desired quantities.

We should also note that studies have shown that vitamin C has no role in managing a common cold. Yet, each of us routinely takes it when coryza afflicts us.

In a nutshell, vitamin C ameliorates oxidative stress, thereby reducing inflammatory damage. It restores body immunity and vascular integrity. All these capabilities help reverse the effects of acute respiratory syndrome and sepsis, which are habitual features of severe Covid-19. However, the health care provider retains the right to prescribe it to suitable patients because available data neither recommends nor refutes its use among patients with Covid-19. Take it with absolute care.

Today’s article has been made possible with information from the CDC and UpToDate. Access the respective websites for further reading.


MBChB (MUK), Graduate Fellow, Department of Physiology, Makerere University Founder and Content Creator Peer reviewer, Associate Editor

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