Research Update on Immune Nutrients and COVID-19

As naturopathic doctors, our approach to healthcare is to support the body and help it overcome the diseases our patients suffer from.  In the case of viral infections, our approach is naturally to support the immune system so that it can fight off the virus.  At the same time we focus on helping the body manage the inflammation that can lead to complications of viral infections.

As COVID-19 clinical research progresses, these approaches are being validated by clinical trials. One such trial looked at the effect of vitamin D treatment on intensive care unit admission and mortality among patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in Spain (Castillo).  This was a randomized double-masked clinical trial.  76 consecutive patients who were admitted to hospital with COVID-19 randomly received or not received vitamin D, and all patients also received usual hospital treatment.  The results are stunning:  2% of patients who were given vitamin D got worse and were admitted to intensive care (ICU) versus 50% of patients who were not given vitamin D got worse and were admitted to intensive care (ICU).  None of the patients treated with vitamin D died, while 7.7% of patients not treated with vitamin D died.

Cytokine storm, where the immune system damages the endothelium and alveolar membranes of the blood vessels and lungs, is a common severe complication of COVID-19.  High dose intravenous vitamin C was proven in previous non COVID-19 research trials to block key components of cytokine storms in bacterial-induced sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).  There are multiple reports of high dose intravenous vitamin C helping COVID-10 patients in hospitals.  We are eagerly awaiting the results of a multicentre prospective randomised placebo-controlled trial to see if and how much of an effect intravenous vitamin C will have on the survival and severity of disease in COVID-19 patients (Liu).

We very much advocate for following prudent public health measures such as hand washing hygiene, wearing face masks, social distancing, quarantining and limiting social contacts.  In addition to those measures, the low cost and low risk advice that our patients receive to improve their immunity is also being shown to be helpful.


Marta Entrenas Castillo, Luis Manuel, Entrenas Costa, José Manuel, Vaquero Barrios, Juan Francisco, Alcalá Díaz, José López Miranda, Roger Bouillon, José Manuel, Quesada Gomez.   Effect of calcifediol treatment and best available therapy versus best available therapy on intensive care unit admission and mortality among patients hospitalized for COVID-19: A pilot randomized clinical study.  The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.  October 2020, Volume 203, 105751.

Fang Liu, Yuan Zhu, Jing Zhang, Yiming Li.  Intravenous high-dose vitamin C for the treatment of severe COVID-19: study protocol for a multicentre randomised controlled trial.  BMJ Open.

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