Vitamin C-An Adjunctive Therapy for Respiratory Infection, Sepsis and COVID-19

Nutrients. 2020 Dec 7;12(12):3760. doi: 10.3390/nu12123760.


There are limited proven therapies for COVID-19. Vitamin C's antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating effects make it a potential therapeutic candidate, both for the prevention and amelioration of COVID-19 infection, and as an adjunctive therapy in the critical care of COVID-19. This literature review focuses on vitamin C deficiency in respiratory infections, including COVID-19, and the mechanisms of action in infectious disease, including support of the stress response, its role in preventing and treating colds and pneumonia, and its role in treating sepsis and COVID-19. The evidence to date indicates that oral vitamin C (2-8 g/day) may reduce the incidence and duration of respiratory infections and intravenous vitamin C (6-24 g/day) has been shown to reduce mortality, intensive care unit (ICU) and hospital stays, and time on mechanical ventilation for severe respiratory infections. Further trials are urgently warranted. Given the favourable safety profile and low cost of vitamin C, and the frequency of vitamin C deficiency in respiratory infections, it may be worthwhile testing patients' vitamin C status and treating them accordingly with intravenous administration within ICUs and oral administration in hospitalised persons with COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; ascorbate; colds; coronavirus; immunonutrition; pneumonia; sepsis; supplementation; vitamin C.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravenous
  • Administration, Oral
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Ascorbic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Ascorbic Acid Deficiency / complications
  • Ascorbic Acid Deficiency / drug therapy*
  • COVID-19 / complications
  • COVID-19 / virology
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Critical Care
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Nutritional Status
  • Pandemics
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / etiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Sepsis / drug therapy*
  • Sepsis / etiology
  • Sepsis / virology
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Vitamins
  • Ascorbic Acid