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Care homes…. Grandparent’s Lives Matter! With 47% of COVID-19 deaths in in the first wave, we need to understand why

 

 

So today we wanted to provide you an update on two of our projects. First is the care home project and as you will see we are really progressing with this. We are still short on funds as you will see but if you can please donate here.  Secondly, so make sure you keep reading, we will update you on getting this campaign to parliament so that policy can be changed and lives can be saved now!

Care homes…. Grandparent’s Lives Matter

With 47% of COVID-19 deaths in care home residents in the first wave, from the first recorded UK case until June 5th, we need to understand why. We know that vitamin C status is related to the outcome of covid and that vitamin C levels drop precipitously with infection.

The last piece of research, which was in the 90’s, indicated that 40% of care home residents have overt vitamin C deficiency (below 11mmol/l) as seen in scurvy.

Could a lack of vitamin C be the last straw that makes older people unable to survive a coronavirus infection? That’s what we want to prevent, and the reason for initiating the world’s first test of vitamin C levels, and what is actually needed to achieve sufficiency, in older people, perhaps your parents or grandparents, in care homes this century.

We want to find out what do older people in care homes need in the way of vitamin C just to maintain normal blood levels, let alone optimal intakes for maximum immune protection.

Currently the RNI for adults is set at 40mg and the EU RDA at 80mg and given we have over 40% showing really low blood levels these desperately need updating, especially in a pandemic when we know vitamin C plays a vital role in the fight against COVID. One estimate from the Linus Pauling Institute is that they might need 400mg – ten times the current RNI.

 

 

Interview with Alexander Michels

Patrick has interviewed Alexander Michels (AM), from the Linus Pauling Institute at the Oregon State University and find out what he had to say below: 

PH: We really wanted to understand why the RDA/RNI that is this sufficient for older people in care homes?

AM: Unfortunately, we have no idea if the RDA/RNI is sufficient for older people regardless of their living situation. The studies that were done to establish the most recent recommendations were performed in young, healthy adults. Until someone does these studies with older adults and older adults with underlying conditions, we’ll never know what amount of vitamin C is adequate in older adults.

AM: Dietary recommendations (RDA/RNI) are not set in hopes of achieving optimum status. They are set in such fashion as to minimize risk of micronutrient deficiencies. This is completely different than promoting health outcomes. There are several nutrients, including vitamin C, that should be consumed in excess of current government recommendations, to promote better health and optimize nutrition status.

PH: How does one establish an older person’s vitamin C need?

AM: In order to establish vitamin C needs in older adults, you have to first define what you mean by “need”. Very little vitamin C is needed to prevent scurvy, but much more is required to lower risk of chronic disease. Even more is required to maximize the antioxidant protection of vitamin C in the body.

Circulating levels of vitamin C are reduced by the presence of oxidants. Older adults are under heightened oxidative stress even in the absence of any co-morbidities. Chronic diseases and the use of pharmaceuticals, both increasingly more common as we age, can increase the amount of oxidative stress in the body and lead to a depletion of vitamin C levels in the body.

There are also indications that vitamin C absorption changes with age. We do not know the full extent of how this happens because rigorous testing of vitamin C absorption in different age groups has not been done.

Because we don’t have any perfect markers of vitamin C status within the body, we usually rely on surrogates like plasma vitamin C concentrations or excretion of urinary ascorbate.
Ideally, we would all be consuming enough vitamin C that our plasma concentrations are above 50 micromoles per litre.

PH: How do we know what an older person needs to have optimal vitamin C status?

AM: Since researchers haven’t found a good biomarker of optimal vitamin C status, the only way to determine optimal vitamin C status in older persons is by systematic testing at different dose levels of supplemental vitamin C. The goal is to determine what amounts of oral vitamin C shift plasma concentrations effectively. An optimal dose in any person can be defined as the minimum amount of oral vitamin C that ensures plasma vitamin C concentrations at saturation.

PH: Should vitamin C, for these people, be taken in once, twice or three times a day?

AM: Vitamin C is probably best consumed throughout the day rather than in a single dose. The mechanisms for vitamin C absorption in the gut can become overwhelmed with too much vitamin C at once. It is possible that this is accentuated in older adults, as vitamin C transport mechanisms in the intestines could change with age.

What we are going to do first is to test older people in care homes using a urine vitamin C strip. It is normal to excrete vitamin C in the urine. An absence of urinary vitamin C is an indicator of likely deficiency. Then, we are going to give them varying amounts of vitamin C to find out what’s needed to achieve sufficiency.

We will also measure dietary intake but we hope and expect that the care homes will be feeding the required intake according to the government’s nutritional standards, eg the Reference Nutrient Intake. In that sense, the care homes may be following instructions. We suspect those instructions are wrong because they are based on younger people, over 65, not in care homes and not with the same comorbidities that increase need.

We have a leading university who are able to run with this study and we currently have the study design, background and scope to present for ethical approval.

This study is going to cost in the region of £15,000, which we need to fund. Thanks to your generous donations we have a little over £4,000 raised towards this project, once we have covered other costs. We need £11,000 more. If you can help, in any small way, here’s the link to donate. I know lots of us are frustrated with pharmaceuticals dominating this conversation but they are able to fund and run studies quickly, which is part of the problem with vitamins and food studies. Who pays, and without funds they don’t happen. Don’t let that happen with this vitamin C study that we are so close with and do donate now. We have 8,000 people signed and if 110 people gave £100 then we will have raised the funds to make this happen. Equally if you can’t afford that whatever you can give will help us achieve this goal.

Censorship….

With your help we have been bombarding MPs with the research around vitamin C for covid. Over 150 different MPs have been contacted.  Initially we were receiving a standard response from them about lack of research and have a draft letter for you to respond with that points out ALL the research so do get in contact if you need this.

The persistence is paying off though as this week the messages back are reflecting that they are starting to listen (and maybe realising that we aren’t going away with this message J). We wanted to thank you for all your help and share some of the more positive responses:

  • Andrea Leadsome MP – has demanded an urgent review of vitamin C. This has been received by Jo Churchill and the team at the Department of Health
  • Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, asked the NHS and the Department for Health to look again at the evidence relating to Vitamin C & D in relation to Covid-19.
  • Cat Smith MP – Clearly the Government should be pursuing every avenue to combat this virus and the information which you provided clearly indicates that this should include Vitamin C alongside other vitamins. I would be very happy to put your points to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
  • Sir Jonathan Redwood MP – have been pressing the government over diet and vitamin supplements as a means of cutting vulnerability to the virus.

If you haven’t written to your MP then please do so (template here) and bcc us or let us know the name / response as we are tracking. Please keep it up, if we keep applying the pressure they can’t ignore this vital lifesaving message.

From the VitaminC4Covid team,

Patrick, Rob, Rebecca, Chantal, Andrew and Gaby

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