Pulmonary medicine and critical care specialist Mike Hansen, MD has made videos throughout the pandemic that dispel misinformation surrounding coronavirus, provide insight into how medical professionals are handling COVID cases, and clarify best practice when it comes to protecting ourselves and others.
In his most recent post, he addresses new research into vitamin C and zinc as potential tools in helping to protect our immune systems against COVID.
Vitamin C and zinc supplements are often a go-to home remedy for the common cold, and Hansen states that there is some limited evidence to support the theory that these supplements might help reduce duration and severity of cold symptoms, if taken right away.
When it comes to COVID, he explains that there is precedent to suggest zinc may inhibit the enzyme that allows the virus to replicate its RNA , and that vitamin C may decrease susceptibility to respiratory infections. However, he adds that the most recent study was only carried out with patients experiencing mild to moderate illness, not people who had been hospitalized due to their symptoms, and so the effectiveness of these in cases of serious illness is not yet known.
“Currently, there are studies being done in China and the United States that are looking at the potential role of intravenous vitamin C in reducing the need for requiring a ventilator in COVID-19 patients,” he says. “Also, vitamin C, zinc and vitamin D are being looked at for the prevention of COVID.”
Additionally, Hansen states that the supplement doses used in the study can also cause a range of side effects.
“If zinc is taken in high doses, especially more than 40 mg per day, it’s been shown to cause dry mouth, nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and long-term users can develop low levels of copper, decreased immunity, and lower levels of the good cholesterol HDL,” he says. “Taking over 2000 mg of vitamin C a day can cause heartburn, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and headaches.”
The ideal daily dose, he adds, is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women.
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