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COVID-19 is a lack of nutrients, exploited by a virus


© Colleen Huber, NMD

August 28, 2020

updated September 7, 2020

“There already exist numerous ways to reliably prevent, mitigate, and even cure COVID-19,

including in late-stage patients who are already ventilator-dependent.”

- Thomas Levy, MD JD





COVID-19 disease is alleged to be caused by the RNA coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.  However, clinical findings from around the world show a sharp inflection point from morbidity to recovery on supplementation of one or another nutrient.  In other cases, severe COVID-19 morbidity is significantly correlated with deficiency of a particular nutrient.  Any of the nutrients that are discussed in this paper, when used alone or with a co-factor, has been either sufficient for prompt and complete recovery in a majority of patients treated or highly correlated with low morbidity and high survival from the disease.

If any one of several nutrients is adequate for victory over COVID-19, then logically (the contrapositive), the simultaneous deficiency of all of those same nutrients is the necessary preliminary condition for the subsequent presence of the virus to result in COVID-19 morbidity and mortality.  This paper will show which nutrients are lacking in those with severe pathogenesis, and why all of those nutrients must be deficient in order for severe COVID-19 disease to occur in an individual, and that supplementation with any one of these nutrients is likely to result in recovery.

Vitamin D vs COVID-19

Vitamin D3 (commonly known simply as “vitamin D,” but formally as cholecalciferol) may be the most potent defense available against COVID-19, from the studies described below.  It may also be the most easily acquired COVID-19 treatment, because vitamin D is produced in the skin on exposure to sunlight, with further processing in the liver and then in the kidneys to its fully useful form.

In this large Israeli study of over 7,000 people, "low plasma [vitamin D] levels almost doubled the risk for hospitalization due to the COVID-19 infection in the Israeli studied cohort."  Also, "the mean plasma vitamin D level was significantly lower among those who tested positive than negative for COVID-19." (1)

In a retrospective cohort study in Indonesia of 780 cases of COVID-19 positive patients, it was found that those with below normal vitamin D levels were associated with increasing odds of death. (2)

The correlation among low serum vitamin D levels and COVID-19 mortality was so high in that study that this nutrient may turn out to be the most decisively valuable against COVID-19.  This graph (3) shows the stark contrast found between high and low vitamin D levels and COVID-19 survivability.

covid vit d graph.jpg

In European countries also, a significant inverse relationship was found between serum vitamin D levels and COVID-19 mortality.  Mean levels of vitamin D and COVID-19 mortality in twenty European countries were examined.  Also aging populations, which have been the worst affected by COVID-19 were found to have the lowest serum vitamin D levels. (4)

Vitamin D is known to be essential to the maturing of macrophages, which in turn are a necessary tool of the immune system against pathogenic microbes.  Macrophages with vitamin D also produce hydrogen peroxide, an important pro-oxidant molecular weapon against microbial pathogens. (5)  However, vitamin D also stimulates production of anti-microbial peptides that appear in natural killer cells and neutrophils in respiratory tract epithelial cells, where they are able to protect the lungs from the ravages of infection.

One of the most alarming features of COVID-19 disease in the clinical setting has been the “cytokine storm,” which is itself life-threatening.  It is an inflammatory over-reaction to the replicating viral pathogen. The utility of Vitamin D for the COVID-19 patient may best be appreciated in its prevention of excessive inflammatory cytokines, thereby sparing the patient of the body’s most severe reactions to the virus. (6)  Vitamin D deficiency is also implicated in acute respiratory distress syndrome. (7)

Respiratory infectious disease prevalence has a strong seasonality through the centuries and around the world.  That season peaks in the winter and early spring, after the year’s fewest hours and lowest angle of sunlight on the winter solstice. That lack of sunlight occurs during a time of the least skin surface exposed to freezing weather, and therefore the least endogenous vitamin D production.  Supplementation of oral vitamin D through this difficult season may therefore be a prudent prophylaxis.


Glutathione vs COVID-19


Glutathione is the most abundant antioxidant in the body.  It is necessary for production of adequate levels of vitamin D. (8)  However, it may be for this reason or another that this study found correlation between glutathione deficiency and moderate to severe COVID-19 illness.  The patients with high/moderate levels of glutathione all recovered. The mechanism seemed to be that glutathione interferes with viral replication rate, which spares lung tissue from oxidative damage caused by the virus. (9)

This case study reported relief of dyspnea in COVID-19-associated pneumonia with administration of glutathione.(10)

N Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is a commonly sold supplement, which is the rate-limiting step in the body’s production of glutathione.  It also protects glutathione in the chemically reduced, or non-oxidized form. Therefore, commonly available NAC supplements may be useful to help prevent morbidity and mortality from COVID-19.


Zinc vs COVID-19

Zinc has many functions in the cell.  One of these is to inhibit replication of RNA-type viruses.  SARS-CoV-2 is such a virus. The mechanism is that zinc blocks the enzyme RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp).  This enzyme is required for replication of the virus. Without this enzyme, copying of the viral RNA cannot occur.  The virus’s assault against the body is not merely inhibited.  It is stopped with adequate zinc.

Zinc, however, is mostly kept out of the cell by other mechanisms, partly because zinc plays a role in normal cell death.  A survival mechanism of a normal cell is to therefore limit the zinc that can enter.

However, in the event of infection with an RNA virus, a useful strategy for medical treatment is to bring enough zinc into cells to block viral replication.  What is needed is a substance that can accompany and transport zinc across the cell membrane and into the cell.  Such a substance is an ionophore; it transports the zinc ion.  The function is to allow more zinc into a cell than would typically enter.   For this purpose, zinc ionophore agents are used in clinical settings together with zinc as a combination strategy against an RNA virus infection.  I will discuss a few of these zinc ionophores.

It should also be noted that zinc deficiency is characterized by loss of senses of smell and/or taste. (11) These are also known to be common symptoms of COVID-19 patients. (12)  This is further evidence that deficiency of zinc may be correlated with COVID-19 morbidity.



Zinc and Hydroxychloroquine vs COVID-19

Both hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and its historical predecessor chloroquine (CQ) are on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines.  The latter was discovered in 1934, and it is still used to manage malaria, although resistant strains of malaria make it less useful these days for that purpose.  HCQ has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for over 65 years.  It has been prescribed billions of times throughout the world over the previous decades.   The US Centers for Disease Control says that HCQ can be prescribed to adults and children of all ages.  It can also be safely taken by pregnant women and nursing mothers. (13) It is among the safest of prescription drugs in the US, which is why it is sold over the counter through much of the world. (14) Both HCQ and CQ are chemically similar to quinine, from the bark of Cinchona trees, which is also a flavoring used in tonic water. 

These drugs have been observed to raise the pH of the cell and the endosomes in which entering viruses are packaged.  These drugs are easily taken up into the cells of the body.  Viruses, however, enter cells packaged in endosomes, and require a low pH acidic environment in the endosome in order to replicate. Once HCQ or CQ are inside cells, they easily enter endosomes, and therefore viruses are stopped from replicating (reproducing) due to this alkalinizing effect.  Dr. Peter D’Adamo describes and illustrates these mechanisms in more detail. (15)

So in summary of these functions then, HCQ and CQ not only shepherd zinc into the cell, where zinc blocks the enzyme that is required for replication of RNA viruses, but either of these drugs also raise pH inside the cell to a level where viral replication is impossible.

The combination of HCQ, azithromycin and zinc has shown outstanding results in resolving COVID-19.  Of 405 COVID-19 patients, whose symptoms had been worse than “mild,” treated in this study, only six were hospitalized, and two died. (16)

In this retrospective case series, the odds of hospitalization of those treated with HCQ, azithromycin and zinc were 84% less than the untreated group.  Of 141 patients in the treated group, only one died. (17)

HCQ used together with zinc is showing impressive and consistent results around the world against COVID-19, reversing this disease promptly and completely in individuals treated with this protocol.

Veteran virologist Steven Hatfill writes of hydroxychloroquine:

“There are now 53 studies that show positive results of hydroxychloroquine in COVID infections.  There are 14 global studies that show neutral or negative results – and 10 of them were of patients in very late stages of COVID-19, where no antiviral drug can be expected to have much effect.  Of the remaining four studies, two come from the same University of Minnesota author.  The author two are from the faulty Brazil paper, which should be retracted, and the fake Lancet paper, which was.” (18)

Yale epidemiology professor Harvey Risch, a highly respected scientist with over 300 published peer-reviewed studies, writes of the contrast between the successful clinical use of HCQ and zinc on the one hand, and its suppression by governments and industry on the other:

“I am fighting for a treatment that the data fully support but which, for reasons having nothing to do with a correct understanding of the science, has been pushed to the sidelines.  As a result, tens of thousands of patients with COVID-19 are dying unnecessarily.  Fortunately, the situation can be reversed easily and quickly.” (20)

Dr. Risch, who has 39,779 citations on Google Scholar, adds that “US cumulative deaths through July 15, 2020 are 140,000.  Had we permitted HCQ use liberally, we would have saved half, 70,000, and it is very possible we could have saved 3/4, or105,000.”


There are other zinc ionophores that are also being used together with zinc successfully against COVID-19.


Zinc and Quercitin vs COVID-19

Quercitin is a flavonoid, which is a resilient plant-derived antioxidant.  It was shown in this study to have ionophoric action with zinc in mouse studies. (21)

Quercitin has also shown anti-viral effect against RNA virus Influenza A, H1N1 and H3N2.  This in vitro study showed that quercitin bound to viral proteins and that it caused significant inhibition on viral protein synthesis in a dose-dependent way. (22)


Zinc and EGCG vs COVID-19

Epigallocatechin-gallate (EGCG) has been found in the same study as above to have zinc ionophoric activity. (23)

However, this extract from the common household beverage green tea has antiviral mechanisms apart from its ability to move zinc into a cell, and has shown activity against a wide variety of viruses, including RNA viruses.   EGCG inhibits virus attachment and entry into cells.  It does this by interference with viral proteins.  It also inhibits RNA synthesis by viral RNA polymerase.  These antiviral mechanisms of EGCG have been extensively studied, and are summarized in this paper. (24)  Roasting green tea converts EGCG to different molecules.  Therefore, we are especially interested in green tea rather than black tea for antiviral effect. 


Vitamin C vs COVID-19


At the Ruijing Hospital in Shanghai, 50 COVID-19 patients were treated with vitamin C.  Their hospital stays were 5 days shorter than those COVID-19 patients not treated with Vitamin C. There were no deaths in the Vitamin C group, and no significant side effects were noted either.  In the other group of COVID-19 patients, those who did not receive vitamin C, there were 3 deaths. (25)

Dr. Zhiyong Peng conducted the first clinical trial of high-dose intravenous vitamin C with COVID19 patients at Wuhan University in Wuhan, China. His findings were that this treatment of COVID-19 patients reduced their inflammation significantly, and that it reduced their stays in ICU and hospitals. (26) (27)

Vitamin C should be no surprise as an addition to the list of nutrients that provide life-saving help against COVID-19.  Dr. Fred Klenner wrote in 1948 about use of intravenous and intramuscular use of vitamin C against viral pneumonia: “In almost every case the patient felt better within an hour after the first injection and noted a very definite change after two hours.”  And “three to seven injections gave complete clinical and x-ray response in all of our [42] cases.” (28)

Dr. Thomas Levy writes: “As the ultimate virucide, vitamin C has been documented to inactivate or destroy every virus against which it was tested in vitro. Similarly, vitamin C has consistently resolved nearly all acute viral infections in patients treated with sufficient doses.” He discusses these clinical findings extensively here (29) and here. (30)

Vitamin C has numerous well-studied and documented mechanisms against viruses.  Perhaps the most important of these is the production of Type I interferons. (31)  This in turn upregulates natural killer cells and cytotoxic T-lymphocytes for anti-viral activity. (32)   However, it has been shown to simply inactivate both RNA and DNA viruses. (33) It also detoxifies viral products that are associated with inflammation and pain.  High dose vitamin C and oral doses over 3 grams are established to both prevent and treat a variety of viral infections. (34) (35)


Selenium vs COVID-19

China has populations that have both the lowest and the highest selenium status in the world.  This varies by geographic region.  In this paper, a higher cure rate from COVID-19 was seen in those cities and provinces with higher selenium. (36)

Selenium can easily be taken in excess, but at therapeutic amounts, selenium can stimulate CD4+ and CD8+ lymphocytes, NK cells and macrophage activity, which all have valuable anti-viral effects. (37)


To repeat Dr. Thomas Levy’s memorable quote at the beginning of this paper, “There already exist numerous ways to reliably prevent, mitigate, and even cure COVID-19, including in late-stage patients who are already ventilator-dependent.”  Dr. Levy documents many of them in this paper. (38)

Those who were diagnosed and sickened from the most feared viral pathogen of our time fell into several categories. Either they died from the disease, or they healed from one of the interventions discussed in this paper, or fortunately, healed with none of those interventions.  The above studies show that it was enough that one or the other of the nutrients discussed herein was adequate to prevent or to vanquish COVID-19, without the need to use all of them.  Therefore, because any one of these nutrients proved adequate to heal patients to complete recovery, then the patients who succumbed to COVID-19 disease had likely been deficient in all of these nutrients, and a lack of all of these nutrients was likely a necessary condition for pathogenesis of COVID-19. 

Because of the therapeutic impact and success that each of the above nutrients have had in reversing the devastation of COVID-19, they each must be made available immediately and widely throughout the world, for both preventative and prompt therapeutic uses.  There is therefore no need or justification for pandemic status of COVID-19.  Furthermore, nutritional interventions should be used without hesitation as first-line treatment, as well as prevention, of COVID-19.

1  E Merzon, et al. Low plasma 25(OH) vitamin D level is associated with increased risk of COVID-19 infection: an Israeli population-based study.

The FEBS Journal doi: 10.1111/febs.15495. Jul 3 2020.


2  P Raharusuna et al. Patterns of COVID-19 mortality and vitamin D: An Indonesian Study. Apr 26 2020.


3  L Borsche, et al. Covid-19: More deaths? More lockdown? More suffering?   Graph by Dr. B Glauner.


4  P Ilie et al. The role of vitamin D in the prevention of coronavirus disease2019 infection and mortality. Aging Clin Exper Res.


5  Y Abu-Amer et al.  Impaired bone marrow-derived macrophage differentiation in vitamin D deficiency. Cell Immunol. Oct 15 1993; 15(12): 356-68.  doi:10.1006/cimm.1993.1245,proliferation%20and%20an%20increased%20differentiation.&text=Thus%2C%20vitamin%20D%20deficiency%20is,natural%20modulator%20of%20macrophage%20maturation.


6  J Cannell, et al.  Epidemic influenza and vitamin D. Epidemiology & Infection. Sep 7 2006.134(6): 1129-40.


7  R Dancer, et al. Vitamin D deficiency contributes directly to the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).  2015.  Thorax 70:617-624.


8  R Parsanathan et al. Glutathione deficiency induces epigenetic alterations of Vitamin D metabolism genes in the livers of high-fat diet-fed obese mice.  Sci Rep. 9, 14784.10.1038/s41598-019-51377-5.


9  A Polonikov.  Endogenous deficiency of glutathione as the most likely cause of serious manifestations and death in COVID-19 patients.  ACS Infect Dis. May 282020. doi: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.0c00288


10  R Horowitz et al.  Efficacy of glutathione therapy in relieving dyspnea associated with COVID-19 pneumonia: A report of 2 cases. Apr 21 2020.  Respir Med. Case Rep 30, 101063.10.1016/j.rmcr.2020.101063.


11  A Stoll. Zinc salts for the treatment of olfactory and gustatory symptoms in psychiatric patients: a case series.  J Clin Psychaitry.  Jul 1994. 55(7): 309-11.


12  K Jiang. How COVID-19 causes loss of sense of smell. Harvard University. Jul 24 2020.


13  US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


14  S Gold. White paper on hydroxychloroquine.  White paper on HCQ 2020.2.pdf


15  P D’Adamo.  COVID-19: chloroquine, zinc and quercitin. People, Nature and Data Apr 7 2020.


16  H Risch. Opinion: Early outpatient treatment of symptomatic high-risk COVID-19 patients that should be ramped-up immediately as key to the pandemic crisis.  Amer J Epidem May 27 2020.


17  M Scholz et al.  COVID-19 outpatients - Early risk-stratified treatment with zinc plus low dose hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin:  A retrospective case series study.  Jun 30 2020.


18  S Hatfill. An effective COVID treatment the media continues to besmirch: Analysis. Real Clear Politics. Aug 4 2020.


19  Graph accompanies Dr.Hatfill’s article.   Ibid.


20  H Risch interview with Mark Levin. Fox News. Aug 24 2020.


21  H Dabbagh-Bazarbachi, et al.  Zinc ionophore activity of quercitin  and epigallocatechin-gallate (EGCG): from Hepa 1-6 cells to a liposome model.  J Agric Food Chem. Jul 22 2014.62(32): 8085-8093.


22  W Wu. Quercitin as an antiviral agent inhibits influenza A virus (IAV) entry.  Viruses. Jan2016. 8(1).


23  Op cit.  H Dabbagh-Bazarbachi, et al.


24  K Kaihatsu, et al.  Antiviral mechanism of action of epigallocatechin-3-O-gallate and its fatty acid esters.  Molecules. 2018.  23(10):2475.

25  R Cheng.  COVID-19, vitamin C, vaccine and integrative medicine. Apr 16 2020.  Cheng Integrative Health Center Blog.


26  Z Peng interview with R Cheng.  Wuhan University.  This video was removed by YouTube.  However, the discussion continues on in this video, among several clinicians, in which they discuss dosing, frequency and morbidity of the patients treated.  A very wide range of doses in intravenous vitamin C was used.


27  R Cheng.  Video conference with Dr ZY Peng, one of the world’s first high-dose IVC trials. Apr 16 2020.  Cheng Integrative Health Center Blog.


28  F Klenner.  Virus pneumonia and its treatment with vitamin C.  Read by title to the Tri-State Medical Association of the Carolinas and Virginia, and in Southern Med and Surg.110(2): 36-38.  Feb 1948.


29  Levy T (2011) Primal Panacea, Henderson, NV: MedFox Publishing. ISBN-13: 978-0983772804.


30  Levy T (2002) Curing the Incurable. Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins, Henderson, NV: MedFox Publishing. ISBN-13: 978-0977952021


31  Y Kim et al.  Vitamin C is an essential factor on the anti-viral immune responses through the production of interferon-a/b at the initial stage of influenza A virus (H3N2) infection.  Immune Netw. Apr 2020.  13(2)70-4. doi: 10.4110/in.2013.13.2.70


32  S Madhusudana, et al. In vitro inactivation of the rabies virus by ascorbic acid. Int J Infectious Dis. Jan 2004. 8(1):21-25.


33  R Jariwalla et al. Antiviral and immunomodulatory activities of ascorbic acid. Subcell Biochem. 1996;25:213-31.


34  A Carr et al. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients. Nov 2017; 9(11): 1211-1236.


35  M Gonzalez et al.  High dose vitamin C and influenza: A case report. 2018. J Orthomol Medicine.  33(3).

36  J Zhang et al. Association between regional selenium status and reported outcome of COVID-19 cases in China.  Am J Clin Nutr 111(6): Apr 28 2020.


37  P Hoffman et al.  The influence of selenium on immune responses.  Mol Nutr Food Res. Nov 6 2008.


38  T Levy. COVID-19 How can I cure thee?  Let me count the ways. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service. Jul 18 2020.

© August 28 2020, Colleen Huber, NMD

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