Coronavirus (COVID-19) - What is known so far…

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is spread from person to person by close contact, via droplets from an infected person’s body fluid such as saliva or mucus.  Person-to-person infections are also believed to occur from dispersed particles in the air or on surfaces that have come in contact with infected individuals through coughing and or sneezing.  The spread of the infection is similar to other respiratory illnesses including the flu and although the level of immunity is currently unclear, persons with a compromised immune system or aged individuals have a significantly increased susceptibility and are at increased risk of infection with a flu-like virus that can be fatal.

To self-protect from the virus, hygiene practices are imperative such as washing your hands thoroughly and covering your face with an effective mask if coughing and sneezing. Whilst physically protecting yourself from transmission is crucial, consumption of vitamin C, Lactoferrin and Zinc will actively strengthen immunity and natural defenses against the virus.

Currently there are two dozen studies registered on, these studies aim to test multiple different remedies including Vitamin C that re investigating a possible positive response (link is below).

Vitamin C and it’s role in Immunity

  • Vitamin C supports various cellular functions by reducing inflammation in turn boosting the immune system [1][2][3]
  • Vitamin C has crucial influence in the production of the anti-viral immune response during the early phase of viral infection through the production of type I interferons, which up-regulate Natural killer (NK) cell activity [1][6][7]
  • Vitamin C supports the production of interferons, necessary for cells to initiate protective defences [[7]
  • Vitamin C supports the production of large quantities of nitrogen oxide by phagocytes, necessary to capture and neutralize pathogens [2][7]
  • Vitamin C enhances the production of T lymphocytes, necessary for cell mediated immune responses [1][6][7]
  • Vitamin C increases the production of B lymphocytes, crucial for the early phase response to infective [7][10]
  • Vitamin C deficiency may result in a weakened immune system with a higher risk of infection[1]
  • Findings have indicated that ascorbic acid can be used as an inactivating agent for both RNA and DNA viruses, lessening viral infectivity[7]

Zinc and it’s role in Immunity

  • Zinc deficiency has been shown associated with impaired cellular mediators of the innate immune system such as phagocytosis and natural killer cell activity [1]
  • B cells and T cells depend on zinc for proliferation, zinc deficiency will reduce antibody-mediated immune defense[5]
  • Increased intracellular zinc impairs replication of a number of RNA viruses by interfering with viral polyprotein processing [12]

Lactoferrin and it’s role in Immunity (Anti-Viral activity)

  • Lactoferrin displays antiviral activity against both DNA and RNA viruses, and similarly to vitamin C the antiviral effects lie in the early phase of infection [6][13]
  • Lactoferrin binds to the hosts surface cell receptors inhibiting viral pathogens from entering the cell.  By competitive inhibition lactoferrin can reduce endocytosis of micro-organism entry into host cells, where they can evade the immune system [14]
  • Lactoferrin contributes to the suppression of pro-inflammatory cytokines and type 1 interferons.[13][14]
  • In the presence of viruses, Lactoferrin can increase phagocytic activity of macrophages. These cell types play an important role during the early phases of viral infection, before the specific immune system is upregulated and takes over the antiviral response [8][13]
  • lactoferrin encourages gut-associated immune functions by production of interleukin-18, type I interferons and increased natural killer cell activity.[8][11]
  • Lactoferrin promotes maturation of T lymphocytes… and under different host conditions promotion of either Th1 (pro-inflammatory) or Th2 (anti-inflammatory) cytokine profiles occur[11]

 If you would like any more information regarding the contents of this article or have any questions you can head to our Virtual Clinic to book a free 20 minute consultation with one of our experienced Naturopaths.


  1. Beveridge, S, Wintergerst, E. S., Maggini, S., & Hornig, D. (2008). Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 67(OCE).
  2. Carr, A., & Maggini, S. (2017). Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients, 9(11), 1211.
  3. Chambial, S, Dwivedi, S., Shukla, K. K., John, P. J., & Sharma, P. (2013). Vitamin C in Disease Prevention and Cure: An Overview. Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry, 28(4), 314–328
  4. Embleton ND, Berrington JE, McGuire W, et al. (2013). Lactoferrin: Antimicrobial activity and therapeutic potential. Seminars in Fetal and Neonatal Medicine, 18(3), 143–149. 
  5. Haase H, Rink, L. (2009). The immune system and the impact of zinc during aging. Immunity & Ageing, 6(1), 9. 
  6. Jariwalla RJ, Harakeh S. (1996). Antiviral and Immunomodulatory Activities of Ascorbic Acid. Subcellular Biochemistry, 215–231. 
  7. Kim Y, Kim H, Bae S, et al. (2013). Vitamin C Is an Essential Factor on the Anti-viral Immune Responses through the Production of Interferon-α/β at the Initial Stage of Influenza A Virus (H3N2) Infection. Immune Network, 13(2), 70. 
  8. Legrand, D. (2016). Overview of Lactoferrin as a Natural Immune Modulator. The Journal of Pediatrics, 173, S10–S15. 
  9. Prasad, A. (2008). Molecular Medicine, 14(5-6), 1.
  10. Ran, L., Zhao, W., Wang, J., Wang, H., Zhao, Y., Tseng, Y., & Bu, H. (2018). Extra Dose of Vitamin C Based on a Daily Supplementation Shortens the Common Cold: A Meta-Analysis of 9 Randomized Controlled Trials. BioMed Research International, 2018, 1–12
  11. Siqueiros-Cendón, T, Arévalo-Gallegos S, Iglesias-Figueroa, et al. (2014). Immunomodulatory effects of lactoferrin. Acta Pharmacologic Sinica, 35(5), 557–566. 
  12. Te Velthuis AJW, van den Worm SHE, Sims AC, et al. (2010). Zn2+ Inhibits Coronavirus and Arterivirus RNA Polymerase Activity In Vitro and Zinc Ionophores Block the Replication of These Viruses in Cell Culture. PLoS Pathogens, 6(11), e1001176. 
  13. Van der Strate, B. W. ., Beljaars, L., Molema, G., Harmsen, M. ., & Meijer, D. K. . (2001). Antiviral activities of lactoferrin. Antiviral Research, 52(3), 225–239.
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