Britons are flocking to buy vitamin C supplements in a desperate attempt to protect themselves against the coronavirus.
Companies that sell the supplements say they have seen an increasing demand for the vitamins, which have long been touted as a boost to the immune system.
UK-based Healthspan revealed sales have tripled in the past week alone, while retail chain Superdrug has seen a “ significant increase ” in sales.
Social media has been flooded with messages encouraging others to take vitamin C, sometimes exceeding recommended amounts at dangerous levels.
Doctors in New York and China are trialling the effects of extremely high doses of the vitamin, but the products contained in supplements cannot treat disease amounts.
People shouldn’t take large amounts of vitamin C because it can cause diarrhea, vomiting, cramps and headaches.
Supplement suppliers say they have seen a spike in demand for vitamin C sales after claims that the nutrient can treat the coronavirus (stock image)
Vitamin C is a naturally occurring nutrient that helps the body grow and maintain good health.
Most people get enough of it from their diets – for example, it comes in foods like oranges, red peppers, and broccoli – but it’s a popular supplement due to its reputation as an immune system booster.
It plays a role in the immune system, but a balanced diet with a wide variety of vitamins is essential for the body to fight infection.
As COVID-19 disease develops in the UK, people are increasingly looking for ways to protect themselves.
Superdrug said in a statement, “We have seen a significant increase in sales of immune protection vitamins, including vitamin C.
“We currently have vitamins in stock, but we constantly monitor availability and work closely with suppliers to do our best to meet current demand.”
Rob Hobson, Healthspan’s chief of nutrition, said, “Over the past week, we’ve tripled sales of vitamin C products.”
The news that Chinese doctors are conducting a vitamin C test in the fight against the coronavirus is likely to have boosted sales.
WHY IS THE INTEREST IN VITAMIN C FOR COVID-19?
Aside from the coronavirus, vitamin C is a natural antioxidant that protects the body from the effects of harmful substances.
Vitamin C supplements come in many forms, but there is little scientific evidence that one form is better absorbed or more effective than another.
Chinese physicians are testing its use against COVID-19 in 120 patients at Wuhan University’s Zhongnan Hospital for various reasons.
They write that early clinical studies have shown that vitamin C can prevent inflammation, which is believed to play a role in the decline of COVID-19 patients.
Additionally, vitamin C can help clear fluid in the lungs, the team claims.
Vitamins can effectively shorten the duration of a cold and even occur in extreme conditions, the scientists said. Studies show that for adults who regularly take vitamin C, their colds are shortened. But taking vitamin C supplements after the onset of cold symptoms doesn’t seem to help.
A few studies have found that vitamin C deficiency – when a person doesn’t have enough in their body – is linked to the increased risk and severity of influenza infections.
Overall, the research conclusions are different, and therefore more research needs to be done before vitamin C can even be considered a tool for treating coronavirus.
Scientists at Wuhan University’s Zhongnan Hospital, in the city where the coronavirus first appeared, are testing its effects on 120 patients with the virus.
They are given daily infusions of 24 g of vitamin C for seven days – a dose about 60 times higher than recommended by the NHS.
The NHS recommends that healthy adults consume 40 mg of the vitamin daily, while the National Institute of Health (NIH) recommends 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men.
The study is expected to be completed by the end of September, according to information on the U.S. National Library from the Medicine website, so results are not yet published.
The regimen prompted physicians in New York State to try vitamin C on their own critically ill COVID-19 patients.
Dr. Andrew Weber, a Long Island lung specialist and intensive care specialist at Northwell Health, said he immediately gave his intensive care patients 1,500 milligrams of intravenous vitamin C – again, much higher than the recommended amount.
These patients are then given three or four times a day re-administered the dose of the powerful antioxidant, the doctor explained to the New York Post.
“The patients who received vitamin C did significantly better than those who did not receive vitamin C,” said Dr. Weber.
“It helps a lot, but it’s not emphasized because it’s not a sexy medicine.”
Jason Molinet, a spokesperson for Northwell, said that Vitamin C has been “widely used” as a coronavirus treatment across NY health care.
Doctors encourage comments from social media users coming from supplements as a preventative tool against the coronavirus.
One user said he had been taking 3,000 4,000mg every day for two weeks, much higher than the NIH set the 2000 limit.
Taking too much vitamin C can cause diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramps.
Dr. Mike Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, says that despite ongoing research, we will not know the value of vitamin C against the new coronavirus for some time – to prevent or treat it.
In addition, the dose tested is ‘huge’ and much larger than what would normally be consumed.
Social media has been flooded with messages encouraging others to take vitamin C, sometimes in excess of the recommended amounts (shown)
The British Dietetic Society has broken the myth that supplements can prevent you from contracting the coronavirus – but many have been in a rush to buy it
Evidence suggests that the old woman’s story supports that vitamin C, including in oranges, can help with colds.
Research from the University of Helsinki in 2017 found that a daily dose of 6g to 8g could shorten cold symptoms by 19 percent. But in the general population, vitamin C has not been found to have a preventative effect.
In other words, while it can help fight a cold, supplementation didn’t change how often people get one.
The British Dietetic Society has broken the myth that supplements can prevent you from contracting coronavirus.
It says, “Simply put, you can’t” boost “your immune system through diet, and no specific food or supplement will stop you from contracting COVID-19 / Coronavirus.”
But as the coronavirus pandemic continues, Healthspan’s Rob Hobson said interest in vitamins has increased across the board.
Vitamin D sales have doubled in the past two weeks and continue to rise, as have the Healthspan Multivitality 70 plus multivitamins – which may be the result of our most vulnerable groups looking for ways to optimize their health during lockdown , ‘ he said.
“Diet should always come first, but supplements play a role if this is compromised in any way.”
Mr. Hobson believes sales of Vitamin D have increased because the public is being urged to stay indoors. The nutrient is enhanced by exposure to sunlight.
Pharma Nord, which produces and supplies pharmaceutical-grade food supplements, said the company is trying to deal with a sharp increase in demand and demand.
Bent Henriksen, CEO of Pharma Nord UK, said: ‘We know from conversations with pharmacies and health food stores that they are dealing with a huge wave of questions about these types of products.
“Our telephone and technical support teams have been busy answering questions from concerned customers.
“We can see that it is difficult for many people, so we try our best to do our part to help people do this.
“Our team has worked exceptionally hard to ensure delivery of our products get to where they are needed.”
It follows that supermarkets and pharmacies are wiped out of over-the-counter medications during the coronavirus crisis.