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OSU researcher: Vitamin C, D supplements can fight off COVID-19

CORVALLIS, Ore. (KTVZ) – Supplements containing vitamins C and D and other micronutrients, sometimes in amounts exceeding the federally recommended levels, are a safe, effective and low-cost means of helping your immune system fight off COVID-19 and other acute respiratory tract diseases, an Oregon State University researcher says.

Findings were published Thursday in the journal Nutrients.

Adrian Gombart of OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute and collaborators at the University of Southampton (United Kingdom), the University of Otago (New Zealand) and University Medical Center (The Netherlands) say public health officials should issue a clear set of nutritional recommendations to complement messages about the role of hand washing and vaccinations in preventing the spread of infections.

“Around the world, acute respiratory tract infections kill more than 2.5 million people every year,” said Gombart, professor of biochemistry and biophysics in the OSU College of Science and a principal investigator at the Linus Pauling Institute. “Meanwhile, there’s a wealth of data that shows the role that good nutrition plays in supporting the immune system. As a society, we need to be doing a better job of getting that message across along with the other important, more common messages.”

Specific vitamins, minerals and fatty acids have key jobs to play in helping your immune system, he says. In particular vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish, docosahexaenoic acid, also known as DHA, are critical for immune function.

“The roles that vitamins C and D play in immunity are particularly well known,” he said. “Vitamin C has roles in several aspects of immunity, including the growth and function of immune cells and antibody production. Vitamin D receptors on immune cells also affect their function. This means that vitamin D profoundly influences your response to infections.

“The problem is that people simply aren’t eating enough of these nutrients. This could destroy your resistance to infections. Consequently, we will see an increase in disease and all of the extra burdens that go along with that increase.”

That’s why the researchers are urging not only a daily multivitamin, but doses of 200 milligrams or more of vitamin C (higher than the suggested federal guidelines of 75 milligrams for men and 50 for women) and 2,000 international units of vitamin D, rather than the 400 to 800 recommended depending on age.

The stakes are huge, Gombart notes. Every year, influenza alone hospitalizes millions and kills several hundred thousand worldwide.

“A number of standard public health practices have been developed to help limit the spread and impact of respiratory viruses: regular hand washing, avoiding those showing symptoms of infection, and covering coughs,” Gombart said. “And for certain viruses like influenza, there are annual vaccination campaigns.”

There is no doubt that vaccines, when available, can be effective, but they’re not foolproof, he says.

Gombart emphasizes that current public health practices – stressing social distancing, hygiene and vaccinations – are important and effective, but in need of complementary strategies. A nutritional focus on the immune system could help minimize the impact of many kinds of infections.

“The present situation with COVID-19 and the number of people dying from other respiratory infections make it clear that we are not doing enough,” he said. “We strongly encourage public health officials to include nutritional strategies in their arsenal.”

About the Linus Pauling Institute: The Linus Pauling Institute at OSU is a world leader in the study of micronutrients and their role in promoting optimum health or preventing and treating disease. Major areas of research include heart disease, cancer, aging and neurodegenerative disease.

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Comments

10 Comments

  1. While we’ve known for years the positive affects of Vitamins C and D on the immune system in general, it would be nice to show their scientifically-based impacts specifically on COVID19 before proselytizing.

    1. When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it makes vitamin D from cholesterol. The sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays hit cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for vitamin D synthesis to occur. Vitamin D has many roles in the body and is essential for optimal health (2).Apr 28, 2018

  2. They need to do some clarification on D and C in that article by stating not to go over the maximum dosage. People are going to read this and think that massive amounts of both are going to keep them from getting it. Fact is, they are both a double edged sword. Too much will do you harm as much as not enough will. What should be done is to have your Vit D levels tested and see if you need any. Years ago I had mine tested and it was practically non existent even though I spend a lot of time outside. However I can’t drink milk. My Doctor suggested how much I should take and then he checked my levels 6 months later. It was over 35 (anything under that is not healthy) so he told me to cut my daily dose in half. I have and its stays a good level.

  3. When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it makes vitamin D from cholesterol. The sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays hit cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for vitamin D synthesis to occur. Vitamin D has many roles in the body and is essential for optimal health (2).Apr 28, 2018

  4. The health benefits of Vit. C have been known for a long long time, however! If President Trump said one word in its favor, half the democrats in this country would soon die of scurvy.

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