In 1970, Dr. Linus Pauling published Vitamin C and the Common Cold, a book that revolutionized the way the world viewed vitamin C and infectious disease. Dr. Pauling believed that increasing the daily dose of vitamin C could help the body mount a strong immune response when confronted with a respiratory infection.
Many people worldwide have reported better health after taking large amounts of vitamin C. To date, clinical trials have shown that vitamin C supplements can shorten the duration of the common cold. However, there are no data to suggest that vitamin C supplements can stop respiratory infections in the general population.*
The LPI continues to advocate for rigorous research on both oral and IV vitamin C for treating both inflammation and infection. Yet, the facts are that there have been few rigorous studies on vitamin C and respiratory infections. Clinical trials with IV vitamin C and coronavirus-related pneumonia are currently underway in China. These trials are of great interest to the LPI, and we will monitor them closely.
Meanwhile, the LPI recommends taking these steps to support a healthy immune system: Eat a healthy diet and ensure that you meet the recommended intakes of all micronutrients, especially vitamins A, C, D, E, as well as zinc. You can find recommended intakes for essential nutrients in our Micronutrients for Health handout.
More information about the immune system and micronutrients is available in the Micronutrient Information Center article, Immunity in Brief.
Oregon State University has established a COVID-19 website to provide detailed and updated information; links to OSU, local, state and federal resources; and some frequently asked questions. Please regularly check this website for important updates.
*Results from trials with participants undergoing heavy physical activity indicate a benefit of oral vitamin C on common cold incidence. There are no such trials on influenza or coronavirus.