The problem with COVID-related vitamin C claims

Can high doses of vitamin C treat or prevent COVID-19? It’s a question posed frequently on social media and in the news, especially as a new clinical trial is underway in Wuhan, China to investigate vitamin C infusion for the treatment of severe 2019-nCoV infected pneumonia.

The Global Food Research Project’s Lindsey Smith Taillie, PhD, warns that there is limited evidence that vitamin C intake can have a meaningful immunity-boosting effect in populations that already consume sufficient vitamin C, such as the United States.

Smith is co-author on a recent paper showing drinks claiming to have 100% vitamin C led participants to believe the drink was healthy.

GFRP research has long shown that the consumption of sugary drinks can lead to poor health outcomes, such as obesity.

“Vitamin C claims on fruit drinks are very common,” says Smith. “In our study, the vitamin C claim led people to think the beverages were healthier and more likely to consume them. We have found in our research globally that food claims are used particularly for unhealthy highly processed junk food and sugar-sweetened beverages like these juice drinks.”