On this episode of Reopening America, host Oscar Ramirez talks with USA Today investigative reporter Brent Schrotenboer about the skyrocketing sales of vitamin C supplements, and how some wellness clinics are over-hyping vitamin C as a cure or preventative for Covid-19. Vitamin C sales are up 76% from last year, raking in $209 million in the first six months of 2020: “It’s almost got a cult status,” Brent says. That’s not limited to the current pandemic, either; Americans went wild for vitamin C in 1970, when a highly respected scientist named Linus Pauling published a paper saying that it would cure the common cold. With his encouragement, supplements quickly became popular, not just to treat or prevent the common cold but also ailments like heart diseases, cancer, burns, aging, and even snakebites.
But over the years, multiple studies have been done, and none can find any evidence to support Pauling's claims. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient and does contribute to a healthy immune system, but it’s found naturally in fruits and vegetables, so if you have a generally healthy diet, you’re probably getting all the C you need. High-dose treatments of vitamin C don’t seem to contribute to our overall health in any way, let alone provide a cure for a brand-new virus. And there is some evidence that people who take high doses of vitamin supplements actually have higher mortality rates from diseases, rather than lower. However, none of this has kept wellness clinics from hyping up direct vitamin C injections to ward off coronavirus; the FBI even raided one clinic outside of Detroit that was charging $200 for their “cure” and billing Medicare for the treatments.
That’s nothing new, either; vitamin C was also oversold in 1976 as a preventative treatment for the expected swine flu pandemic. But with study after study showing no health benefits and potentially serious side effects, it’s unethical for these high-dose infusions to be sold as some kind of miracle cure for coronavirus to a public thirsty for answers. Long story short? Don’t believe the hype. Hear more about what’s really going on with vitamin C on this episode of Reopening America.
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