NEW DELHI: Vitamin C – that became a vital part of most prescription to Covid-19 patients –
has no significant benefit in treatment of the infectious disease, results of a systemic review
and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials by epidemiologists from New Delhi’s All
India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) show.
“Vitamin C therapy didn’t reduce major health related outcomes in Covid patients. In subgroup analysis based on drug dose (high vs. low), route (IV vs oral) and severity
of illness (severe vs non-severe) no significant benefit were observed,” the study concluded.
The authors of the study recommended larger prospective randomized trials in order to
evaluate the effect of isolated vitamin C administration, separately for both vitamin C replete
and deplete individuals.
The study was published online on Elsevier Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome : Clinical
Research & Reviews.
Doctors say the findings hold significance as Vitamin C supplementation increased
significantly with people even assuming that this can even avert contracting of the infection,
which is absolutely a misconception.
“Benefits of vitamin C since days of Linus Pauling are fraught with uncertainties. Although
this meta-analysis is categorical in stating that it is without benefits in COVID-19, it is unlikely
to get of prescription sheets of physicians in a major manner,” says Dr Anoop Misra,
Chairman, Fortis C-Doc.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is well known for its anti-inflammatory and free
radical scavenging properties.
“Ascorbic acid (vitamin c) has a role in reducing inflammation, vascular injury and in diseases
where oxidative stress increases. With same hope and rationale behind, it was being used in
high doses in patients who were at high risk of contracting severe covid or had severe covid.
But it is still unclear if it helps in averting severe covid infection. It surely doest avert
contracting covid,” says Dr Akshay Budharaja, Pulmonologist, Aakash Healthcare.
The study points out that the findings could be because of universally accepted optimal dose
and route of administration.
“The particular concern with Covid-19 is that ICU treatment is needed for a rather high
proportion of patients. There is much evidence that critically ill patients have reduced plasma
levels of vitamin C, which is explained by the increased depletion of the vitamin in their body,
so that one-third of ICU patients may have as low vitamin C levels as vitamin C deficient
patients,” says Dr Babina Nanda Kumar, Chief Medical Officer, Jindal Naturecure Institute.
According to Dr Kumar, although 0.1 g per day of vitamin C can maintain ordinary plasma
levels in healthy persons, critically ill patients need much higher doses (2–3 g/day) to
increase the plasma vitamin C levels to the ordinary range.
“Therefore, it would seem reasonable to screen plasma vitamin C levels in ICU patients and
administer vitamin C to those with low levels,” Dr Kumar said.