Olga Ivanov MD, FACS
Medical Director, IV Lounge: Next Generation Spa
As a physician and scientist, I rely upon data published in scientific journals that avoid hype, sensationalism, and pseudo-scientific claims. In my research on pro-active health methods, I’ve found considerable, credible evidence showing that specific supplements can not only support the immune system but also serve as anti-viral agents. Let’s take a closer look at three of the most powerful: vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc.
Vitamin C. Most physicians in Europe and Asia consider vitamin C to be an important anti-viral agent, while this effect is often not recognized by American physicians. Further, how well vitamin C works depends on the dose and the method of administration, whether oral or intravenous.
A large body of evidence exists demonstrating the effectiveness of vitamin C as an anti-viral and immune-response mediator. Several clinical trials are underway in China on the use of intravenous vitamin C for those infected with COVID-19.1 Here is a sample of what research tells us about this essential micronutrient’s role in supporting the immune system:
— Researchers at the Seoul National University College of Medicine found that by increasing the production of alpha and beta interferon, vitamin C acts as an essential component of the anti-viral immune response at the early stage of Influenza A infection.2
— In a review of 148 papers on the role of vitamin C in dealing with the infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and protozoa, scientists at the University of Helsinki concluded that vitamin C was most beneficial for those who are physically active. They found that the duration of colds was frequently shorter and less severe among those with sufficient vitamin C levels.3
— In a randomized double-blind trial, the gold standard of any scientific study, researchers found a relatively small dose of vitamin C could protect hospitalized elderly patients from acute respiratory infections.4 The researchers found that “those who received vitamin C fared significantly better than those taking placebo.”
— In a randomized study involving 715 students between the ages of 18-32, subjects who took 4 grams of vitamin C daily and demonstrated an 85 percent decrease in flu and cold symptoms.5
Vitamin D. Known as the sunshine vitamin for its ability of the body to create it from sunlight, vitamin D is also available in a few foods such as tuna and salmon and is often fortified in foods such as milk, orange juice, and cereal. Unfortunately, a large percentage of adults in the US are deficient in Vitamin D.
Approximately 42 percent of the general population and up to 82 percent of black Americans are deficient in vitamin D. The elderly and the housebound, as well as those who work night shifts, are at the highest risk for vitamin D deficiency due to their limited exposure to sunlight. This is a serious problem as Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of autoimmune diseases and greater susceptibility to infections, particularly from respiratory viruses.6 Here are a few additional studies on this subject:
— A meta-analysis involving researchers from Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as from the University of London, analyzed over 11,000 patients taking vitamin D. They concluded that “vitamin D supplementation was safe and it protected against acute respiratory tract infection overall. Patients who were very vitamin D deficient and those not receiving bolus doses experienced the most benefit.”7
— The Jikei University School of Medicine in Japan conducted a randomized, double-blind placebo trial to measure the rate by which vitamin D reduced seasonal influenza A. Almost twice as many participants in the placebo group came down with the flu compared to in the vitamin D group! The Japanese scientists also observed that those with a history of asthma were best protected.8
Zinc. Zinc is an essential mineral that plays several critical roles in the body, particularly regarding immune response. It is also known to interfere with viral replication.
In a meta-analysis involving 199 patients, the group that took zinc acetate lozenges demonstrated a reduction in symptom duration by nearly three days.9 Another excellent article from Australia concluded: “zinc treatment applied at a therapeutic dose and in the right form has the potential to drastically improve the clearance of both chronic and acute viral infections, as well as their accompanying pathologies and symptoms.”10
Conclusion. Credible studies have proven the important role of intravenous vitamin C and zinc as a prophylaxis for many immune system diseases, along with being able to mediate the symptoms of infection. There is also overwhelming evidence concerning the effectiveness of vitamin D in supporting the immune system and limiting excess inflammation.
For these reasons, I believe our Immune Support Intravenous Drip, combined with a vitamin D IM injection, can provide a multitude of benefits to support a healthy immune system.
- 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.
- Hemilä H. Vitamin C and Infections. Nutrients. 2017;9(4):339. Published 2017 Mar 29. doi:10.3390/nu9040339.
- Hunt C, Chakravorty NK, Annan G, Habibzadeh N, Schorah CJ. The clinical effects of vitamin C supplementation in elderly hospitalized patients with acute respiratory infections. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 1994;64(3):212–219.
- Gorton HC, Jarvis K. The effectiveness of vitamin C in preventing and relieving the symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1999;22(8):530–533. doi:10.1016/s0161-4754(99)70005-9
- Aranow, Cynthia. “Vitamin D and the immune system.” Journal of Investigative Medicine: the official publication of the American Federation for Clinical Research.Vol. 59,6 (2011): 881-6. doi:10.2310/JIM.0b013e31821b8755
- Martineau Adrian R, Jolliffe David A, Hooper Richard L, Greenberg Lauren, Aloia John F, Bergman Peter et al. Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data, BMJ 2017; 356 :i6583
- Urashima M, Segawa T, Okazaki M, Kurihara M, Wada Y, Ida H. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91(5):1255–1260. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.29094
- Hemilä H. et al. Zinc acetate lozenges for treating the common cold: an individual patient data meta-analysis.Br J Clin Pharmacol. (2016)
- Scott A Read, Stephanie Obeid, Chantelle Ahlenstiel, Golo Ahlenstiel, The Role of Zinc in Antiviral Immunity, Advances in Nutrition, Vol. 10, Issue 4, July 2019, pp 696–710, https://doi.org/10.1093/advances/nmz013