By Dr. Bernard J. Lane, MD & Dr. Catherine Dudick, MD, FACS
Vitamin C is a well known nutrient that gets a lot of attention during cold and flu season as we try to ward off or shorten illness duration. Improved recovery of subjects with viral infection upon supplementation with pharmacologic doses of vitamin C has been observed clinically.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) possesses anti-viral activity. It has been shown that vitamin C is an essential factor in the production of the anti-viral immune response during the early phase of viral infection through the production of type I interferons (Kim et al. 2013), which up-regulates Natural killer (NK) cell and cytotoxic T-lymphocyte activity (Madhusudana et al. 2004). Also, studies have indicated that ascorbic acid (aka Vitamin C) can be used as an inactivating agent for both RNA and DNA viruses, lessening viral infectivity (Jariwalla and Harakeh, 1996; Byun and Jean,2011). In addition, ascorbic acid can detoxify viral products that produce pain and inflammation (Harakek et al .1990).
High dose IV Vitamin C has been shown to be effective against viral infections such as the common cold rhinovirus (Hemila and Herman,1995); avian virus H1N1 (Ely,2007;) Chikungunya (Gonzalez et al. 2014; Marcial-Vega et al,2015); Zika (Gonzalez et al 2016) and influenza (Zarubaeva et al.2017). However, the potential benefits of Vitamin C go well beyond treating the common cold and viruses. Even with our best efforts at a balanced diet, we cannot achieve levels that can be seen with intravenous (IV) Vitamin C administration.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant critical for adequate collagen production, and a deficiency in this nutrient can lead to fatigue, impaired wound healing and skin breakdown, bleeding and bruising. To this end, additional Vitamin C is known to speed and enhance wound healing — something to consider before or after any surgery or skin treatment.
High dose Vitamin C refers to when the nutrient is infused directly into a vein, resulting in a higher, anti-viral concentration of the vitamin in the blood. It is not possible to achieve the same levels through diet, even with supplements. Intravenous Vitamin C therapies are frequently given to boost the immune system for fighting infection and fatigue, to sepsis patients in the intensive care unit and to individuals with cancer to treat the symptoms of the malignancy and side effects of the chemotherapy, but also to slow tumor growth.
Whether experiencing acute viral infections, fatigue from overwork or extreme training, feeling run down or chronic disease, high dose Vitamin C may shorten the course of your illness and improve how you feel. It is cost effective and safe for most individuals.
Help protect yourself and boost your immune system with a high-dose Vitamin C IV infusion 2-3 times per week…especially if you frequent public locations or plan on traveling via air for vacation or business. Caution should also be used for those using public transportation and services such as Uber, Lyft or taxi cabs.