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Vitamin-C in Flu Prevention

by Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh
0 comment 6 minutes read

Vitamin-C, also known as ascorbic acid, is necessary for the growth, development and repair of all body tissues. It’s involved in many body functions, including formation of Collagen, absorption of iron, the immune system, wound healing and maintenance of cartilage, bones and teeth. Vitamin-C is one of many antioxidants that can protect against damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals, as well as toxic chemicals and pollutants like cigarette smoke. Free radicals can build up and contribute to the development of health conditions such as cancer, heart disease and arthritis. Vitamin-C was identified in the early 20th century by Albert SzentGyorgyiin the search for a substance, the deficiency of which would cause scurvy. Scurvy was associated with Pneumonia, which implies that the factor that cured scurvy might also have an effect on Pneumonia. In the 1970s, Nobel Laureate, Linus Pauling popularized the use of high doses of Vitamin-C for the treatment of common cold. The rationale behind this is the fact that animals increase their endogenous production of vitamin-C (around 10gm) when they go through any illness. Since humans have lost the ability to synthesize vitamin-C, we are deprived of this essential nutrient and anti-oxidant. Vitamin-C cannot be stored in the body and requires daily intake to maintain adequate levels. This combined with smoking poor lifestyle, not consuming enough nutritious foods leads to a majority of population being sub-clinically vitamin-C deficient. Many studies in the 1950s and 1960s assessed Vitamin-C deficiency and Pneumonia and found that patients with a low Vitamin-C intake required hospitalization much longer than those who had adequate amounts. For the prevention and treatment of viral respiratory tract infection, it is recommended to take 4-6 gms of Vitamin-C per day. In a clinical study conducted with 500 subjects,4-6 gm of Vitamin-C per day showed an 85% reduction in cold and flu symptoms. To those who think they can get adequate Vitamin-c from citrus fruits, you have to understand that you need to consume as many as 20 oranges to get 1gm of Vitamin-C, which is impossible.
According to a report in Financial Express by Dr. K.Arul,a senior integrative Medicine Consultant, Mirakle Wellness Clinic, Pollachi, Covid-19 is slightly more communicable than the common flu and less communicable than the most highly infectious viruses, like measles. According to him, the flu (influenza) affects over ten lakh people every year and as many as 1000,000 patients die from it. In the same way, Covid-19 caused by the SARS-CoV2 is nothing but a serious flu. The only difference is that proper treatment guidelines have been established for the flu, whereas with Covid-19, being caused by a novel virus, there is still much debate about the proper treatment guidelines. It is also found that the viruses can survive for three hours, floating through the air, transmitted by the tiny respiratory droplets when an infected person exhales, sneezes or cough out. At the end of the day, as with any viral infection, our own immune system has to get rid of it. This fact is exemplified by countries like South-Korea who carried out thousands of tests and found that more than half the people that already gotten the infection and come out of it but never showed any symptoms. The reason being robustness of the immune system which took care of the virus even before the virus could mount an attack. Even in India, many have tested positive but showed no symptoms whatsoever. Only a small percentage of people (around 5% average) with pre-existing co-morbidities which make them immune-compromised progress to severe respiratory distress and require ICU care.
In severe Covid-19 cases, according to Scientists, current understanding is, the diseases may have more to do with a haywire immune response to the virus than anything else. Because the virus can gain a foothold in our lower respiratory system while still wearing that invisibility cloak, it basically beats the immune system and start replicating too rapidly. When the immune system finally does register its presence, it might go into overdrive and send everything in its arsenal to attack, since it has no specific antibodies to fight those strong new invaders. It’s like pouring gas on the fire. This excessive immune activity once the virus gets established in the lungs is what leads to fluid buildup in the alveolar space leading to oxygen deprivation, requiring ventilation. With Covid-19, we know that the main reason for the extensive lungs injury is the excessive free radicals and oxidative stress mounted by the dysfunctional immune system in an effort to kill the virus but end up harming the patient instead. Vitamin-C, a water soluble powerful anti-oxidant, can neutralize these free radicals and reduce oxidative damage to the lungs. When the balance between oxidants and anti-oxidants is lost, that’s when the damage happens and patients progress to serve disease. By administering adequate Vitamin-C, we can increase the anti-oxidant status of our body. Vitamin-C levels in white blood cells (immune Cells) are ten times higher than in plasma, which indicates functional role of the vitamin in these immune cells. Vitamin-C has been shown to affect the functions of phagocytes, production of interferon replication of viruses and malnutrition of T-lymphocytes. Vitamin-C also protects these immune cells from oxidative damage when they try to clear out bacteria, viruses etc.
Hundreds of clinical studies have shown that vitamin-C has a positive impact on many infections caused by bacteria, viruses fungi etc. Vitamin-C at doses of 4-6 gm is absolutely safe and caused no side effects whatsoever. It is especially useful for the elderly and for those with pre-existing conditions to strengthen their immunity. Many hospitals in New-York, China and Shanghai have already begun using intravenous Vitamin-C to treat patients’ with severe Covid-19 infections. Anecdotal evidence from these centers suggests promising results. Let us not wait till the situation develops further. Let us all start taking Vitamin-C from now. It is about strengthening your immunity and preventing a mild flu from becoming a life threatening condition. Basically the idea is to strengthen the immunity of the body to fight the virus than to find remedies for the virus. This search for remedy will take months and we cannot wait for this period. The best option is to fortify the immune system of the body to ward off the infection.

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