Should You Take More Vitamin C to Protect Against COVID?
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The Doctors investigate whether high doses of vitamins can help protect you from COVID-19 and weigh in on whether the vitamin craze is money well-spent or simply your hard-earned cash going down the drain (literally!)?
Senior investigative producer Leslie Marcus examines how people are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on vitamin C supplements in hopes of helping to protect against COVID. The idea that large doses of vitamin C aids in immunity dates back to the findings of scientist Linus Pauling in the 1970s, findings that were later refuted by numerous studies.
Leslie spoke to Dr. Alexander Michels, a research coordinator at the Linus Pauling Institute, who said claims that the vitamin can do miraculous things for someone's health is "premature" and he says people should not consume more than 2,000 mg per day. According to the Mayo Clinic (which recommends getting the vitamin from food sources) ingesting too much vitamin C can lead to:
As for vitamin IV infusions -- which are very popular, costly, and claim that a patient's immunity can be boosted -- Leslie investigated and received a high-dose "super immunity" infusion. After receiving 90 percent of the infusion, Leslie said she felt "strange" as if she had too much coffee.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Sandra Kesh is wary of these treatments and warns there is not enough data about these infusions and notes she cannot come out as either for or against them it comes to using in the fight against COVID. Dr. Kesh does warn that high doses of vitamin C can possibly affect the kidneys and how the body metabolizes iron. She says of infusions, "It probably won't do you much good" and she worries they may give people a false sense of assurance about protecting themselves against the virus.
Looking back on the infusion experience, Leslie tells Dr. Ian Smith she did not like it and says it made her feel jittery. She warns anyone considering a vitamin infusion to make sure they do their research and to only go to a reputable provider. She also notes the infusion can cost upwards of a few hundred dollars.