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Vitamin C: Why Is It So Important During The Ongoing Pandemic?

Smitakshi Guha

Vitamin C may help boost our respiratory immunity, something that is needed during this pandemic.

Vitamin C is an essential vitamin, which our body doesn’t produce on its own; meaning we need to get it into our system through external sources like foods and supplements. If you are often finding the vitamin C supplements’ shelf empty at the supermarkets mostly, there’s a reason for that! When the COVID-19 pandemic started, a round of several rumours started as well. 

One among them was the theory that having vitamin C supplements daily can prevent or treat the novel coronavirus. While there’s no solid proof for that as of now and research is still ongoing, it cannot be denied that vitamin C indirectly has a strong role to play when it comes to our respiratory immunity, something that needs a strong boost during this pandemic.

You must already know that people who have a higher risk of COVID-19 are those with existing conditions like diabetes, hypertension, as well as heart/lung disease, among others. Let’s understand some important aspects of vitamin C first.

Vitamin C & COVID-19: What’s the fuss all about?

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic gained momentum in India, people started doing everything that they read on WhatsApp, Facebook, or from someone’s mouth, as long as it claimed to be a protective shield against the infamous virus. You may not be alienated from the fact that in most pharmacies, vitamin C supplements were pretty much out of stock most of the time! So, is this hullabaloo really worth it? 

Well, vitamin C, in general, has a host of benefits to offer. It helps in speeding up the healing process of the body, by boosting collagen formation. Collagen is the most common protein found in our bodies and is extremely important in maintaining good skin, hair, and nail health. As a powerful antioxidant, it also helps in controlling various infections. Coming to COVID-19, the virus affects different people differently. While some end up being asymptomatic and recover without even realizing, some face mild to moderate symptoms, and a few end up in hospitals with severe symptoms.

In such a scenario, a factor that remains a very crucial area of interest is one’s immunity and that’s where the whole subject of vitamin C comes into the picture.

Consuming adequate amounts of vitamin C daily helps in boosting one’s immunity and their body’s healing time. However, it doesn’t lower your risk of contracting a viral infection. The recommended dose of vitamin C for adult males is 90mg while it’s 75mg for adult females. However, for the latter, the dosage may differ during pregnancy and breastfeeding. A point to remember is since vitamin C is water-soluble, your body can’t store it, which means, you need to have a daily intake of vitamin C to actually let your body exercise its benefits.  

Vitamin C & lung diseases: What’s the connection?

According to studies, regular and adequate intakes of vitamin C alongside other important macronutrients like magnesium can significantly help in improving lungs’ functions over a period of time. In fact, research also suggests that people who regularly include foods rich in vitamin C in their diet have a reduced risk of developing COPD–chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a condition often caused by emphysema, severe bronchitis, or both.   

Vitamin C can be found in many common fruits and vegetables such as guavas, kiwifruit, strawberries, lemon, sweet lime, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, etc. It is advised that you include these foods in your regular diet as much as possible. In some cases, vitamin C supplements may also help, but make sure you take them only after consulting a doctor.

Vitamin C & immunity

As discussed earlier, vitamin C speeds up your body’s natural wound-healing process. It is associated with increasing the production of white blood cells (WBCs), also known as the soldiers of the body because these cells help in protecting us from the attack of foreign pathogens like viruses and bacteria. 

Vitamin C & chronic diseases

It may help in reducing your risk of developing chronic diseases

Consuming adequate amounts of vitamin C can boost your blood antioxidant levels significantly and helps your body fight well against chronic inflammatory illnesses such as hypertension, heart disease, etc.

It may help reduce your risk of having heart disease

A lot of factors contribute to increasing your chances of developing heart disease. This includes high blood pressure, an increase in the levels of bad cholesterol and a decrease in levels of good cholesterol, etc. It’s no surprise that heart disease is the leading cause of deaths across the globe. With vitamin C, there’s a solid possibility of the risks of these factors reducing, thus, one’s possibility of developing heart disease as well.

It helps in preventing iron deficiency

Iron is a pivotal nutrient responsible for multiple bodily functions. One of its key tasks is to make red blood cells (RBCs) and transport oxygen throughout the entire body. Vitamin C has an important role to play in the absorption of iron into one’s body. In fact, when at times, your body absorbs certain plant-based sources of iron poorly, it is vitamin C that helps that iron convert into a form that is easier to absorb.

It may help in preventing gout

Gout is a very painful type of arthritis that develops when there’s an increase in the level of uric acid in one’s blood. Uric acid is a waste product that our bodies produce naturally. However, when its levels go high, it can start depositing in the joints and crystallize. This further leads to excruciating pain and swelling in the joints (gout). Studies have shown that vitamin C may play a key role in reducing uric acid levels in the bloodstream, thus reducing one’s risks of gout.

The takeaway

If you’re still wondering about vitamin C’s connection to COVID-19, let’s frame it for you in a nutshell. It surely helps in boosting your immunity but under no circumstance does it reduce your risk of contracting the infection. You’re as much likely to be infected by COVID-19 after having vitamin C-rich foods/supplements daily, as much as another individual with no intake of vitamin C, whatsoever.

However, with a strengthened immune system, your chances of battling the virus and recovering from it are definitely higher than those with a comparatively weaker immune system.

So, don’t stop yourself from having your recommended doses this vitamin every day and at the same time, keep practising social distancing, wearing masks when stepping out, and a healthy lifestyle to keep yourself and those around you safe from COVID-19.

Feel free to consult with a doctor online on MFine for any queries that you may have related to nutrition or the COVID-19 outbreak.

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