Updates/ Vitamin C Infusion is helping CoV-19 patients in New York.

Addition – Food sources of vitamin C, quercetin, and zinc are at the top of this document, which includes this blog post and a few others on the topic of COVID-19 (Antivirals in Foods) Eating good sources several times a day may help the body prevent infection or have a less severe case.

Virus enter a cell and are replicated to the cell’s capacity to produce them, at that point the cell bursts releasing the newly formed virus which go and infect other cells and force those cells to make even more virus to the cell’s capacity, and they all burst, releasing yet more virus – in an exponentially increasing number. Each time a cell bursts and releases the viral load, the cell dies. So the sooner you can help your body stop the viral replication the sooner you are protecting your cells from being killed by the process.

Megadoses of the nutrients that help stop viral replication may not be needed. Moderate amounts of good food sources may help the body fight the infection before it has spread to numerous cells and caused significant cell damage. Reducing infection load may also help prevent an over-reaction of the immune system to the infection. An over-reaction of the immune system can be deadly as the inflammatory chemicals can attack healthy cells and lead to organ failure and eventually death. The next section is about a nontoxic treatment that might help if an over-reaction of the immune system leads to a Cytokine Storm/sepsis reaction.

Foods contain antivirals that work in a similar manner to the chloroquine medications that we have been hearing about in the news. More production is needed before they are available for widespread use, and they are somewhat expensive and can be dangerous. Quercetin is a phytonutrient that is readily available in vegetables and fruits and as a bulk or individual supplement.

Nursing homes and hospitals could be adding the bulk supplement powder to a food at each meal and including zinc food sources. The zinc is carried into infected cells by the quercetin (or chloroquine) and the zinc disrupts viral replication. The chloroquine, quercetin, or zinc are not killing virus. White blood cells are the body’s patrol for killing and removing infected cells.

Health takes work and work takes nutrients.

  • Vitamin C helps the immune system fight infection. Good sources include: cabbage, tomatoes, green peppers, broccoli, asparagus, peas, kale, & citrus, strawberries, kiwi, papayas, cantaloupe. (Vit C Fact Sheet)
  • Good food sources of quercetin include: red onion, onion, garlic, kale, tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli, capers, nuts and seeds, red grapes, cherries, olive oil. Herbal supplements also containing quercetin include St John’s Wort, Gingko biloba, and American Elder. (WebMd
  • Good food sources of zinc include oysters, meats, poultry, dairy, cashews, pumpkin seeds. Other beans, nuts and seeds would also have some as vegan sources. Meats have more than the vegan sources, while oysters have so much zinc that it might risk excess if eaten regularly in large servings.  (Zinc Fact Sheet).

There are no guarantees in life, but trying a nontoxic strategy is at least safe. Medications may have risks of side effects – always see a medical professional for individualized health care guidance.

Vitamin C Infusion for Cytokine Storm immune overreactions.

Good news updates – a hospital chain in New York has found the use of high dose intravenous Vitamin C Infusions helpful for patients infected with the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) novel coranovirus. “Dr. Andrew G. Weber, a pulmonologist and critical-care specialist affiliated with two Northwell Health” is providing his patients who have sepsis/cytokine storm symptoms an intravenous drip with 1500 mg of vitamin C three or four times per day. (1) Patients getting the Vitamin C treatment have been helped more than patients who did not according to Dr. Weber. A spokesperson for the Northwell Health system said that vitamin C is being “widely used” at their hospitals where 700 patients approximately are being treated for SARS-CoV2, however it varied by patient need and the clinician’s plan of care. (1, 2)

The patients who received vitamin C did significantly better than those who did not get vitamin C,” Weber said. (1)

The protocol for the treatment also includes vitamin B1 generally but that news article doesn’t mention that ingredient of the IV mixture. The treatment is a much larger amount of vitamin C than the daily recommendation for a normal diet, however a patient with an overactive immune response is not in normal health. The treatment is used for patients who have had an overactive immune response to the infection and their own immune cytokines become produced in excessive amounts. The cytokines can then start damaging the patient’s own organs which can lead to organ failure and result in death.

The damaging immune chemicals in a normal response to infection would only attack the infected cells. The excessive amounts however use up all supplies of vitamin C in the patient’s body, and supplying vitamin C in high doses is then very helpful for protecting the patient from harm by the excess.

Quercetin plus zinc is a zinc ionophore, and is being tested as an anti-viral in human clinical trials for the treatment of SARS-CoV2 (COVID-19).

Good news update regarding quercetin and zinc as a zinc ionophore – the combination had already made it through animal trials for use against Ebola, and SARS-CoV(1) and was approved by the FDA for human clinical trials. Plans were underway for it to be trialed in China for patients with SARS-CoV2 (COVID-19). I haven’t found results yet.

  • CBC News Interview with “Dr. Michel Chrétien’s team at the Clinical Research Institute of Montreal” : Canadian team invited to do clinical trials in China for antiviral drug. Feb 28, 2020, (youtube).

UK What to do if at home with a Potential Infection, Guidance:

Stay at home: guidance for households with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. Updated 24 March 2020, (gov.uk).

*The UK guidance recommends isolating for seven days after symptom onset, – it might be wise to use caution longer than, especially if trying to protect people in your home who are in a high risk group, which includes: Senior Citizens, people with asthma or other lung conditions, smokers, people with hypertension, and immune-compromised people.

While the infectious stage seems to start prior to symptom onset and to have the most risk of spreading the infection during the early days of symptoms, when a fever is also often a symptom, that might not be consistently true and not everyone infected with SARS-CoV-2 gets a fever. The longest a patient has been found to be infectious was 37 days and the shortest was eight days. The average for patients with severe symptoms being treated in a hospital to be infectious was 19 days and for patients with critical symptoms the average was 24 days to remain infectious. (4)

Sensible precautions if sharing a home with infected and non-infected people include:

  • Cover your coughs or wear a mask or bandana to catch respiratory droplets from your breath, coughs or sneezes. Try to avoid being in the same room with non-infected people if possible, at least during the highest risk days during the early onset of symptoms, or positive test result.
  • Wash hands often and sanitize or wash with soap any commonly used surfaces such as door knobs, kitchen and bathroom areas.
  • Don’t prepare raw foods for non-infected people if you can avoid it. Otherwise wash hands thoroughly or wear food preparation gloves if possible after the initial week or two of more severe feverish symptoms has passed.
  • US CDC guidance for home care of a person infected with SARS-CoV2 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-prevent-spread.html

This is doable – the quercetin rich foods mentioned in the last post plus sinc supplements or foods may provide a protective effect against getting a viral infection. Stay calm and eat sauteed onions or citrus with a little of the peel left on, plus pumpkin seeds or meats. Best wishes for everyone’s health!

Request for plasma donations from people recently recovered from SARS-CoV2, Mount Sinai

There is a request for people who have recently recovered from SARS-CoV2 (COVID-19) and who would be willing to donate plasma if they have antibodies against the infection to contact Mount Sinai’s medical team. Antibody rich plasma can be given to severely ill patients with the infection to help them fight the virus. They can check for the presence of antibodies. Contact: COVIDSerumTesting@mountsinai.org, see (Statement from Mount Sinai Chief Medical Officer, (via @MikeDelMoro/via @joshchafetz).

Mount Sinai medical system has developed a test for checking for CoV-19 antibodies within hospitals and are sharing the technique: BREAKING: The First U.S. Test to Detect If a Person Has Potential Immunity to COVID-19 Was Just Developed (leapsmag.com)

Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Reference List

  1. Lorena Mongelli and Bruce Golding, New York hospitals treating coronavirus patients with vitamin C. March 24, 2020, NYPost.com, https://nypost.com/2020/03/24/new-york-hospitals-treating-coronavirus-patients-with-vitamin-c/?utm_campaign=SocialFlow&utm_medium=SocialFlow&utm_source=NYPTwitter
  2. Dan Lyman, Coronavirus Patients Being Treated With Vitamin C at New York Hospitals. March 25, 2020, https://www.newswars.com/coronavirus-patients-being-treated-with-vitamin-c-at-new-york-hospitals/
  3. CBC News Interview with “Dr. Michel Chrétien’s team at the Clinical Research Institute of Montreal” : Canadian team invited to do clinical trials in China for antiviral drug. Feb 28, 2020, (youtube).
  4. Fei Zhou, Ting Yu, Ronghui Du, et al., Clinical course and risk factors for mortality of adult inpatients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: a retrospective cohort study. The Lancet, March 11, 2020, DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30566-3 https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30566-3/fulltext#back-bib33
  5. Kira Peikoff, BREAKING: The First U.S. Test to Detect If a Person Has Potential Immunity to COVID-19 Was Just Developed. March 22, 2020 leapsmag.com, https://leapsmag.com/breaking-the-first-u-s-test-to-detect-if-a-person-has-potential-immunity-to-covid-19-was-just-developed/?fbclid=IwAR2z_hl9VZfsrjz2JL03Sze2cPscdqGTFD0VyBrSbUvx-bOP8f5lmz9BgdU

Eat Food – Antivirals are found in common foods.

Chloroquine medications are dangerous, many medications are dangerous especially if taken in too large a dose. Chloroquines are typically used to treat malaria, a condition caused by a parasite. The mechanism of action is that the chemical can hold onto the mineral zinc and carry it into an infected cell where the zinc disrupts the replication of proteins, causing less virus replication. (6) It has been mentioned as a medication that potentially may be helpful for treating patients with the novel coronavirus that is currently causing a pandemic.

The chloroquine medications are also used by autoimmune patients and supplies of the drug are limited. Increasing production is a goal but will likely take some time. (7) There are other safer alternatives available in foods or phytonutrient extracts (1, 8, 9) that have an immune modulating effect – promoting removal of infected or damaged cells while also inhibiting an overactive immune response.

People with a heart condition may also be at more risk of dangerous side effects if taking chloroquines. The medication also needs to be given with zinc to be as effective as possible. The food or phytonutrient alternatives would also need to be used with zinc in the diet or added as a supplement. (1, 8, 9)


***** ONLY EAT FOOD *****

Someone is dead because they consumed a household product containing chloroquine because they thought it might protect them from coronavirus infection, (10), – dead is not infectable by a virus, but dead is also dead.

Quercetin plus zinc is also an antiviral that works as a zinc ionophore, (1), however it is readily available in some common foods or as a supplement and is nontoxic to cells. (1, 2) The zinc is disrupting protein replication within the infected cell so the virus can not be replicated to spread to other cells, for more replication, more infecting other cells, more replication, etcetera.

Onions are the richest source of quercetin (4) and citrus peel is also a very rich source. (3) Pumpkin seeds are the richest source of zinc in a vegetarian diet and is commonly available in meats in a non-vegetarian diet.

Pomegranate peel extract or the inner white membrane of a pomegranate is also a source of quercetin and another phytonutrient that acts as a zinc ionophore (epigallichatechin-gallate). (1) It also would be nontoxic to healthy cells and low risk compared to the chloroquine medications. (2) However it can have some side effects, acting as a diuretic and has COX2 inhibition activity. (recent post, older post) A tablespoon or two of the liquid extract or inner white membrane can be enough to provide some health benefits for an adult. (G13: Preparation & Benefits of Pomegranate)

Onions, citrus peel, pomegranate peel – we have choices, safe choices, to help our body’s own defense system stop the coronavirus. Chloroquines do not kill coronavirus – it helps our own defense system do its job – but with more risk to healthy cells, and normal function than onions, citrus peel or pomegranate peel or quercetin supplements. Zinc is a trace mineral which we need in small amounts, a larger dose taken for a week or two would be unlikely to build up to toxic amounts but please be aware that in large doses a zinc supplement could become toxic.

Eat food – that is what our body is designed for. If the GI tract is inflamed and the idea of eating food is no longer appealing due to pain or constant diarrhea than please see the recent post: ACE2, Diarrhea, & COVID19 – it gets complicated. and try to eat small servings of something that might help heal and stop the inflammatory reaction in the intestinal tract.

If nausea and vomiting are also symptoms, hold off on the food and just sip water that has a dash of lemon or lime juice or apple cider vinegar. Those all have a type of acid that is similar to stomach acid. In cases of severe nausea even plain water can be unsettling and larger amounts of anything can be a problem. Start gradually with small sips of the lemon water, or a lime or lemon popsicle may be soothing and not cause more vomiting.

Once feeling better some of the mucilaginous or hydrolyzable tannin foods mentioned in the recent post (ACE2, Diarrhea…) can help replace the mucous lining that coats the intestinal tract during times of health. It also serves as a defense system, helping to prevent entry of virus or other pathogens into the body between intestinal cells. And white blood cells patrol the area and actively defend against pathogens.

Pomegranate peel also provides hydrolyzable tannins if the white membrane is used in prepared foods like a bean soup (G8: Cookies & Bean Soup/recipes) or sweet potato dish. Pomegranate peel and citrus peel and onions (less so) are also sources of vitamin C which also helps our body’s natural anti-viral defenses. (5)

Addition: Table of drugs and phytonutrients that are being investigated for use as a COVID19 treatment, (@rubbersoul23,Eric/table) based on A SARS-CoV-2-Human Protein-Protein Interaction Map Reveals Drug Targets and Potential Drug-Repurposing, March 23, 2020, (biorxiv.org)

Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use. It is not intended to provide individual guidance. Please seek a health care provider for individualized health care guidance.

Reference List

  1. Husam Dabbagh-Bazarbachi , Gael Clergeaud, Isabel M Quesada, et al., Zinc Ionophore Activity of Quercetin and Epigallocatechin-Gallate: From Hepa 1-6 Cells to a Liposome Model. J Agric Food Chem, 62 (32), 8085-93 2014 Aug 13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25050823/
  2. Houston DMJ, Bugert JJ, Denyer SP, Heard CM. Potentiated virucidal activity of pomegranate rind extract (PRE) and punicalagin against Herpes simplex virus (HSV) when co-administered with zinc (II) ions, and antiviral activity of PRE against HSV and aciclovir-resistant HSV [published correction appears in PLoS One. 2017 Nov 20;12 (11):e0188609]. PLoS One. 2017;12(6):e0179291. Published 2017 Jun 30. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0179291 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5493292/
  3. Shafiya Rafiqa, Rajkumari Kaula, S.A. Sofia, et al., Citrus peel as a source of functional ingredient: A review. J of the Saudi Society of Ag Sci, 17;4, Oct. 2018, pp 351-358 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1658077X16300960
  4. Quercetin, Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science/Quercetin, ScienceDirect.com, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/quercetin
  5. Kim Y, Kim H, Bae S, et al. Vitamin C Is an Essential Factor on the Anti-viral Immune Responses through the Production of Interferon-α/β at the Initial Stage of Influenza A Virus (H3N2) Infection. Immune Netw. 2013;13(2):70–74. doi:10.4110/in.2013.13.2.70 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3659258/
  6. Xue J, Moyer A, Peng B, Wu J, Hannafon BN, Ding W-Q (2014) Chloroquine Is a Zinc Ionophore. PLoS ONE 9(10): e109180. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0109180 https://journals.plos.org/plosone/articleid=10.1371/journal.pone.0109180
  7. Eva Schrezenmeier, Thomas Dörner, Mechanisms of action of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine: implications for rheumatology. Nat Rev Rheumatol 16, 155–166 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41584-020-0372-x https://www.nature.com/articles/s41584-020-0372-x
  8. Wang T1, Men R1, Hu M, et al., Protective effects of Punica granatum (pomegranate) peel extract on concanavalin A-induced autoimmune hepatitis in mice. Biomed Pharmacother. 2018 Apr;100:213-220. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2017.12.110. Epub 2018 Feb 9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29428670
  9. Hou L, Huang H. Immune suppressive properties of artemisinin family drugs. Pharmacol Ther. 2016;166:123–127. doi:10.1016/j.pharmthera.2016.07.002 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5035609/
  10. Anne Flaherty, Sophie Tatum, Man dies after ingesting aquarium product containing chloroquine: Hospital network. March 23, 2020, abcnews.go.com, https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/man-dies-ingesting-chloroquine-prevent-coronavirus-banner-health/story?id=69759570

Good news – magnesium protects against cancer.

The levels of vitamin D, magnesium and calcium were measured to assess whether they might have to do with protection from cancer. The level of vitamin D and magnesium was significantly associated with protection from cancer while calcium level was not. The mechanism of action is not included. (1)

The mechanism of action is likely to involve the control of apoptosis by the active hormone form of vitamin D, calcitriol, (3), and the role of magnesium in providing the energy for apoptosis. (2) White blood cells during times of normal function can identify damaged, old, pre-cancerous, cancerous, or infected or foreign cells and give an enzymatic blast of chemicals that kills the cell and engulfs it completely, before the killed cell can break down and spill its cellular contents into the surrounding area.

An influx of cell contents into the surrounding area would be toxic and potentially lead to more cells being damaged. The enzymatic blast of chemicals of apoptosis requires magnesium, (2), and signaling white blood cells to be in the mode of autophagy requires calcitriol. (3)

“In the context of cancer, calcitriol regulates the cell cycle, induces apoptosis, promotes cell differentiation and acts as anti-inflammatory factor within the tumor microenvironment.”

(Díaz-Muñoz et al., 2015) (3)

“In addition, the impact of Mg2+ on apoptosis initiation and execution in various cells has to be investigated in more detail.”

( Pilchova et al., 2017) (2)

Excessive amounts of vitamin D can be toxic and can be stored in fat tissue. Magnesium levels in the blood represent only one percent of the body’s total amount of magnesium which makes a blood test to check for deficiency not very helpful or accurate except in very severe deficiency – ideally we don’t want to reach severe deficiency. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency can include pain, anxiety, and muscle cramps.

To have adequate supplies of magnesium or vitamin D it is also important to have enough protein food in the diet as both nutrients are stored on transport protein or also ATP molecules in the case of magnesium. The transport protein or ATP molecule holds the vitamin D or magnesium in an inactive form. The body carefully controls how much active hormone D or electrically active ionic magnesium there is available within the cell fluid or in the blood stream.

  • More information about sources of magnesium in the diet or from topical sources (it can be absorbed by the skin through hair follicle pores), is available in this post: To have optimal Magnesium needs Protein and Phospholipids too.
  • More information about symptoms of magnesium deficiency and chronic conditions that may involve low levels of magnesium within cell fluid is available here: Magnesium – essential for eighty percent of our body’s chemistry..
  • More information about how many grams of protein might be needed for health is available in a post about kidney health – adequate water is protective and excessive amounts of protein eaten regularly may be harmful to kidney health over many years (i.e. three ounces of meat in a meal is a healthy amount, while regularly eating an 8-12 ounce steak may eventually be harmful for kidney health): Make every day Kidney Appreciation Day.
  • Vitamin D3 form may be a more bioactive form of the vitamin if taking a supplement than the vitamin D2 form. During spring through autumn months getting 15-30 minutes of midday sunshine with face and arms exposed to the sun can provide enough vitamin D from it being formed in the skin from cholesterol. Vitamin D is actually a seco-steroid and excessive levels of the hormone form can cause mood changes including anger or irritability.
  • It is available in fortified milk & milk substitutes, and in fortified yogurt or cheese, but not necessarily all yogurt or cheese, read the nutrient label. Cod liver oil and some types of fish can provide vitamin D. Egg yolk has a small amount and some types of mushrooms may have a small amount. (healthline.com)
  • The standard RDA amount taken daily (~ 600 IU depending on age and gender) may help the immune system protect against respiratory infection, while taking a mega-dose after an infection occurred did not seem to help with recovery from a respiratory infection. (Vit D Respiratory Infections/bmj.com)

Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use. It is not intended to provide individual guidance. Please seek a health care provider for individualized health care guidance.

Reference List

  1. Wesselink E, Kok DE, Bours MJL, et al. Vitamin D, magnesium, calcium, and their interaction in relation to colorectal cancer recurrence and all-cause mortality [published online ahead of print, 2020 Mar 19]. Am J Clin Nutr. 2020;nqaa049. doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqaa049 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32190892/?from_term=nutrition&from_filter=ds1.y_1&from_sort=date&from_size=50&from_pos=6
  2. Ivana Pilchova, Katarina Klacanova, Zuzana Tatarkova, et al., The Involvement of Mg2+ in Regulation of Cellular and Mitochondrial Functions. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, Special Issue, Magnesium and Other Biometals in Oxidative Medicine and Redox Biology Vol 2017, 6797460, 8 pages, https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/6797460 https://www.hindawi.com/journals/omcl/2017/6797460/
  3. Díaz L, Díaz-Muñoz M, García-Gaytán AC, Méndez I. Mechanistic Effects of Calcitriol in Cancer Biology. Nutrients. 2015;7(6):5020–5050. Published 2015 Jun 19. doi:10.3390/nu7065020 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4488829/