Overdose with Vitamin C
Linus Pauling (1970) first advocated the consumption of overdoses of Vitamin C (even up to 18 g/day, 300 times the daily requirement!) to prevent and cure a common cold. He is remembered as a scientist who suggested ‘keep vitamin C in gunny bags and dine in grams.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble versatile vitamin. Vitamin C plays an important role in human health and disease. It has become the foremost controversial vitamin in recent years. This is due to the claims and counter-claims on the utilization of vitamin C in overdoses or megadoses to cure everything from the common cold to cancer.
It is now clear that an overdose with vitamin C does not prevent the common cold. But the duration of the cold and the severity of symptoms are reduced. It is believed that ascorbic acid promotes leukocyte function. Overdoses (1-4 g/day) of vitamin C are still continued in cold, wound healing, trauma, etc.
As an antioxidant, vitamin C certainly provides some health benefits.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) itself has not been found to be toxic. But, dehydroascorbic acid (oxidized form of ascorbic acid) is toxic. Further, oxalate is a major metabolite of vitamin C. Oxalate has been implicated in the formation of kidney stones. However, there are controversial reports on the overdoses of vitamin C leading to urinary stones.
Dose of Vitamin C
About 60-70 mg vitamin C intake per day will meet the adult requirement. Additional intakes (20-40% increase) are recommended for ladies during pregnancy and lactation.
Sources of Vitamin C
Citrus fruits, gooseberry (amla), guava, green vegetables (cabbage, spinach), tomatoes, potatoes (particularly skin) are rich in vitamin C. The high content of vitamin C is found in the adrenal gland and gonads. Milk may be a poor source of vitamin C.
Deficiency of Vitamin C
The deficiency of ascorbic acid results in scurvy. This disease is characterized by spongy and sore gums, loose teeth, anemia, swollen joints, fragile blood vessels, decreased immunocompetence, delayed wound healing, the sluggish hormonal function of cortex and gonads, hemorrhage, osteoporosis, etc. Most of these symptoms are related to impairment in the synthesis of collagen and/or the antioxidant property of vitamin C.
Role of Vitamin C in Covid-19 Prevention
Administration of high-dose vitamin C as a therapeutic agent can favorably impact patients with viral pneumonia and ARDS in severe SARS-CoV-2 infection by decreasing inflammation and pathogen infectiveness and virulence, optimizing immune defense, reducing tissue and organ injury, and improving the general outcome of the disease.
Application of a high dose of vitamin C can dramatically reduce the need for treatment with high doses of corticosteroids, antibacterial, and antiviral drugs. Vitamin C also can be effective for the primary prevention of viral infections by boosting the innate immune response. In infected patients, vitamin C therapy may shorten the disease course and stop complications of the disease
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