COVID- 19: Clearing misconceptions surrounding Vitamin C

Atono Tsükrü Kense
Kohima | May 7

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe, confusion and misconceptions about what can protect you are becoming as contagious as the virus. 

Numerous individuals have recommended that high doses of Vitamin C supplements can help reinforce the immune system against the possibility of an infection with the COVID-19 virus. This has resulted in people reportedly stocking Vitamin-C supplements since the global outbreak.

The Morung Express spoke to Avitoli Yeptho, Consultant Dietician and private practitioner from Dimapur, about whether there is any truth to this common claim.

There is no need to stock up on antioxidant pills or Vitamin C supplement unless one has preexisting deficiencies, she asserted.

Vitamin C ascorbic acid found in plants and fruits are best known for its antioxidant properties. It neutralizes reactive oxygen species or free radicals, and also has numerous other important functions within the body many of which are known to support healthy immune function, Yeptho explained.

However, as Vitamin C is naturally occurring water soluble substance and extra dose is excreted out, she cautioned that taking high doses of Vitamin C may cause diarrhea.

 “Improving our diet plays a basic role in determining our overall health and immunity,” the dietician said, adding that intake of foods rich in Vitamin C will ensure that the body has appropriate amounts to boost the immunity level.

Foods like tomatoes, papaya, oranges, lemons, watermelon, spinach, green leafy vegetables, cauliflower etc provides that extra dose of Vitamin C, she added.

She also recommended maintaining low carb and low sodium diet to keep blood pressure and blood sugar in control, and focus on protein-rich diet (eggs, poultry, pulses, diary etc).

Yeptho further advised on regular consumption of vegetables preferably seasonal veggies, which are both fresh and economical and also foods like mushrooms, tomatoes, chillies, gourd, etc, which are known to build resilience in the body against infections. 

Besides, certain seeds such as sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, melon seeds, etc provide extra protein and Vitamin-E, while some local delicacies like fermented soy, bamboo shoots, anishi, etc can provide extra protein, minerals, fiber and act as probiotic to rejuvenate the composition of gut bacteria which is important for nutrient absorption by the body, advised Yeptho. 

Although the main source of Vitamin D is sunlight, she also recommended on eating vitamin D rich foods like oily fish, egg yolk, fortified cereals or a Vitamin D supplements with advice from physician.

“Remember, there is currently no evidence that eating certain foods or following certain diets will protect you against coronavirus. The bottom line is consuming a healthy; balanced diet supports our immune system. Most of the nutrients we are already getting from our regular diet provided we eat on time and make healthy choices. Eat well for life,” Yeptho said.