International Health News

Vitamin C protects against pneumonia

HELSINKI, FINLAND. It is becoming increasingly evident that an adequate intake of vitamin-C is important in preventing many infectious diseases. Dr. Harri Hemila of the University of Helsinki now suggests that vitamin C may specifically protect against pneumonia. Dr. Hemila reviews three clinical trials in which two groups of subjects were evaluated for their susceptibility to the development of pneumonia. The first study was carried out in the United Kingdom in 1942 and involved 15- to 20-year-old school boys. During the experiment 17 boys in the control group of 1100 developed pneumonia as compared to zero cases in the supplement group of 335 boys. The amount of vitamin C given to the supplement group varied between 50 and 300 mg per day. Another study done in 1967 involved Russian military recruits with influenza (Type A). Here 10 of 112 members of the control group developed pneumonia compared to only two in the supplement group (300 mg/day) of 114 recruits. The most recent study done in 1979 involved American marines. In this study seven out of 343 controls developed pneumonia compared to only one in the supplement group of 331. The supplement dose was 2000 mg/day. Combining the data from the three studies shows that vitamin C supplementation decreased the risk of developing pneumonia by more than 80 per cent. Dr. Hemila, however, cautions against drawing firm conclusions from the three trials and recommends that further work be done in this area.
Hemila, Harri. Vitamin C intake and susceptibility to pneumonia. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, Vol. 16, No. 9, 1997, pp. 836-7

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