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Vitamin C against airway infections and new coronavirus

December 10, 2020
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Vitamin C against airway infections and new coronavirus

Oranges, kiwi fruits, grapefruits, broccoli, berries and peppers, these are just some foods capable of providing the body with the precious vitamin C. Why precious? Because vitamin C is anti-inflammatory, immunomodulating, antioxidant, antithrombotic and antiviral. Not only that, it seems that vitamin C can also help against the new coronavirus both as a prevention and as a therapy when the infection is already underway. This is what emerges from a review published a few days ago in the Nutrients journal by an English team (Holford et al, Nutrients, Dec 2020).

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and, in humans, it should be provided with the diet or through supplements since our body cannot synthesize it. This vitamin proves to be an ally of respiratory health since people with a deficiency seem more susceptible than others to developing pneumonia. Not only that, patients admitted to intensive care due to COVID infection have, in almost all cases, very low or even undetectable levels of vitamin C. In fact, the amount of vitamin C drops very quickly following strong stress, surgery or infections but this complicates an already delicate situation. In fact, vitamin C is able to downregulate cytokines, which, in the most severe cases of new coronavirus infection, on the other hand, are produced in excess causing blood clots. Not only that, vitamin C always plays an essential role in strengthening the immune system, increasing phagocytosis, namely the ability of white blood cells to destroy the virus, and the activity of T lymphocytes, which have the task of memorizing threats in order to provide effective protection in case the body comes into contact with that same virus again. The new coronavirus works by reducing the release of particular proteins called type 1 interferons, which are the body's primary defense mechanism against the virus. Instead, vitamin C increases the presence of this essential protein. Finally, it was observed that the intake of vitamin C reduced the incidence of colds, but this effect was observed only when the body was already exposed to conditions of severe stress, and also the duration of the cold. It should be noted that colds are caused by different types of viruses, some of which are of the coronavirus type.

Hence the importance, both against the new coronavirus and to prevent or mitigate seasonal airway infections, of ensuring a varied diet that also includes sources of vitamin C. In case of stress it could also be a good choice, as suggested by the authors, to use supplements, but always under the supervision of your doctor.

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