209. Immune System, Vit. C, and Viruses (With References)

26 May

Please see my previous Blog 208, for additional information and references.

.                          BASIC PHYSIOLOGICAL ARGUMENTS 

Most of the following logic is accepted by medical scientists, but in practice, is often ignored. The immune system is a host defense that protects against disease. The immune system is enhanced by good nutrition, and other health factors. Vitamin C, other vitamins, and some other nutrients provide this good nutrition. Variations in response to virus attacks are likely due to variations in immune systems. Many MD’s believe that vitamin supplements are not needed because they assume everyone has a healthy diet. Clearly, this is not true.  Exploring the use of Vit. C and other supplements for covid-19 should be encouraged.  

Here are some reasons why use of vitamins may be ignored Early studies used small doses of vitamins and they were ineffective. As a consequence many leaders discouraged vitamin supplements and tended to ignore further work. Many physicians prefer  prescription drugs because they can be better controlled, and were developed using rigorous experiments and established safety methods.

Experiments using the most rigorous scientific methods are almost impossible to do, in the area of vitamin effectiveness. For example, Vit C is most effective when the first “cold symptoms” are noticed, and several grams are taken immediately. The timing is somewhat vague and the reliability of patient compliance and reporting is questionable. Further, drug companies would not support this work and most researchers would not be interested. Federal support is controlled by medical experts and most of them would not be interested.

Often argued is that higher doses of Vit C and other vitamins are not absorbed by the body and are eliminated. This is not a good argument because the vitamins could be serving as catalysts (not consumened in chemical reactions). Vit C could have a positive effect on pH. Large concentrations of vitamins might be required to get enough into certain narrow end organs.

Another thought is that vitamin supplements are not necessary because a healthy diet contains all the necessary vitamins a person needs. Just saying this does not make it so — it takes a lot of experimentation to actualy prove this. A healthy diet might prevent some major diseases like scurvy, but the world has evolved a great many other disorders. Even more important, many, perhaps most people do not have a really “healthy diet,” and eat a lot of doughnuts, candy bars, sausages, white bread, lots of cheeseburgers — and very few vegetables.

To summarize, every profession has certain preferences that appeal to its members for a variety of reasons, some of which are valid and some maybe not.

                                           MY PROPOSALS

1. The CDC, AMA, or NIH, etc could publish some dietary information and encourage people to greatly improve their nutrition.
2. There could be some simple experiments such as the following. Randomly assign (blind) patients admitted to a hospital to an experimental (Vit C) and control group (placebo). As soon as they are admitted give them 3.0 grams of Vit C with lots of water. Then, every moring and night, prescribe 2 to 3 grams of Vit C (placebo for the control group). Record date of release, use of equipment like ventilaters, temperature, etc. Do this for a total of 100 or more patients and compare the groups. This is not ideal, but if there are significant effects, this could encourage wider application.
3. Researchers could apply for gov grants for more extensive rigorous studies.
4. Encourage private physicians to prescribe Vit C and other health factors and
record informally procedures and results. These could be published.
5. Eventhough there are no rigorous studies, physicians could still advise the use of nutritional factors, including Vit C. Most of the things we do in life are not “proven.” We simply gather all of the “relevant” facts, study them, and make a final decision. In this case, there is little if any risk. Good food and vitamins are very well established and safe. The major side effect is better health. The cost is comparatively small.

                        REFERENCES (with some summaries)

Listings below are by professional journal, newspaper, or Internet address, followed by brief quotations and/or relevant facts. (PMC = PubMed Central).


The immune system is a host defense system that protects against disease. It has amazing protective functions implemented by tiny particles: indentifying, killing, remembering, and creating new attackers.

Dr. Bremmer, Mr. Kupchan and Mr. Rosenstein are international political risk analysts. Re the virus: “The American people are far less healthy than Swedes.”
In other words, health is very important, yet our medical profession ignores this.
“Diabetes and hypertension, are two of the most-risky underlying conditions.”
Every type of disorder & age is correlated with infection risk, but instead, a third factor, a persons health, may be the underlying cause.

Advised: eat a lot of vegs /fruits, don’t smoke, sleep well, lower stress, drink less alcohol.  As we age, our immune response capability becomes reduced, “people who live in poverty and are malnourished are more vulnerable to infectious diseases”

A healthful diet and exercise are important to maintaining a strong immune system.

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723551/ 2019
Childs, Calder, and Miles:  “Diet and Immune Function”
Adequate and appropriate nutrition is required for all cells to function optimally and this includes the cells in the immune system. Vitamin A and zinc regulate cell division and so are essential for a successful proliferative response within the immune system. Undernutrition is well understood to impair immune function.

VITAMIN C AND THE IMMUNE SYSTEM www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5707683/    Carr and Maggini
Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system.”

Mayo Clinic site: “Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a vitamin your body needs to form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle and collagen in bones. Vitamin C is also vital to your body’s healing process.” Large doses of vitamin C are “unlikely to be harmful.”

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7172861/ Boretti and Banik, Title: “Intravenous Vit C for reduction of cytokines storm in acute respiratory distress syndrome” Vit C was reported to have clinical activity against numerous other viruses including poliovirus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, human lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and rabies virus in addition to demonstrating activity against influenza and herpes virus. (Refs listed.)

There are immune boosting foods: whole unprocessed foods are best.
“Vitamin C is known to boost immunity”
In one study, subjects increased ingestion of foods rich in vit. C “every day for a month.” They “had significant decrease in the severity and duration of upper respiratory infection symptoms”  Best diet: colorful fruits and vegetables. Also, lower stress, sleep well, and exercise.

WebMD: Vitamin C is required for the proper development and function of many parts of the body. It also plays an important role in maintaining proper immune function.

Three vitamins best; C, B6, E. Also hydrate (drink water)
“Vitamin C is one of the biggest immune system boosters of all.”

Nutrients. 2019 Apr; 11(4): 708  Harri Hemila.  Vitamin C Can Shorten the Length of Stay in the ICU: A Meta-Analysis.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 72, Issue 1, Jul 2000, pg 139
“These data suggest that men with low serum ascorbate concentrations may have an increased risk of mortality, probably because of an increased risk of dying from cancer.” The way Vit C may function in improving health, is discussed in detail.
(For non-scientists: “serum ascorbate” is Vit C in the blood.)

VITAMIN C AND VIRUSES (Summary, please see my Blog 208 for more details)

Book: Linus Pauling “Vitamin C and the Common Cold” 1970. Pauling won two Nobel prizes. References to scientific studies are listed and a method for viruses is presented.

Nutrients. 2017 Apr; 9(4): 339 H.Hemila “Vitamin C and Infections” (a review)
Vit C halved the number of colds in physically active people. Vit C shortened the duration of colds, in several studies (most used higher doses, such as 6 to 8 grams). Vit C prevented pneumonia in three controlled studies

Nutrients. 2017 Nov; 9(11): 1211. Carr and Maggini, “Vit C and Immune Function” Vit C appears able to both prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections.

Med Sci Monit. 2014; 20: 725–732. Mikirova and Hunninghake.
Title: “Effect of high dose vitamin C on Epstein-Barr viral infection”
“High dose intravenous vitamin C therapy has a positive effect on disease duration”

WebMD   Vit C “is one of the safest and most effective nutrients.”
Quoting Mark Moyad, MD of University of Michigan:
“There is good evidence for taking vitamin C for colds and flu.” “It can reduce the risk of developing further complications such as pneumonia and lung infections.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7172861/ Boretti and Banik (see above)


Drugs.Com has a long list of severe side-effects for Aspirin, which are much worse than those for Vit C.
Almost any substance will lead to reported side-effects, some of which are not actually valid. Vit C is natural, necessary for life, and safe for almost everyone.  Note: Take Vit C with plenty of water, and divide and space out large doses.

Example from WebMd
“In some people, vitamin C might cause nausea, vomiting, heartburn, stomach cramps, headache, and other side effects.”
“In people who have had a kidney stone, amounts greater than 1000 mg daily greatly increase the risk of kidney stone recurrence.” A reference for this was not given, and there are few if any such cases reported.

My conclusion:  Everything you ingest has a danger at some level and for some people. For example, in a hazing incident, someone was forced to drink a lot of water, and died from it. For 50 years, I have been taking large (several gram) doses of Vit C on occassions when I detected cold symptoms, and have never had any significant side-effects. The danger of covid-19 is ultimately lethal, while the danger of Vit C is in almost all cases, trivial. I have also studied the literature on Vit C for 50 years and have never seen an objective report of a serious side-effect, only unsupported dogma.

                              OTHER INFORMATION

For virus information from CDC:

It can take several days for the body to produce antibodies to a virus.

For more articles, search: “Vitamin C and viruses” or “Vitamin C and flu”

The Global Health Security and Biodefense Unit was established by
President Obama in 2015 to deal effectively with viruses, such as covid-19.
A future president abolished this unit. Some members just left, and some were transfered to other organizations







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