The country’s Department of Health in Central Visayas which consists of major islands, such as Cebu, made the announcement in mid March.
Department director, Dr Jaime Bernadas, said PHP$500k (US$9,831) would be allocated from the agency to buy the vitamin C.
He explained that this was a precautionary measure to boost the children’s immune system against the COVID-19 virus.
“Initially, we are allocating PHP$500k to augment supplies that we already distributed. That is all the money that we have for now,” local media Cebu Daily News quoted him.
Cebu governor Gwendolyn Garcia also earlier supported the move to do so, especially for the primary schools.
“In fact, I asked the Department of Health to provide our students with mega doses of Vitamin C. This is the best that we can do at this point in time,” she said.
The Philippines government has advocated the intake of vitamin C since the start of the outbreak, alongside the caution of mask-wearing and handwashing.
The country has 1,546 reported infected cases and 78 related deaths as of March 30.
Vitamin C supplementation boosts the immune system by supporting the innate and adaptive immune systems, as well as promoting good cell function, according to Dr Anitra Carr, the director of nutrition in medicine research group at the Otago University.
She told NutraIngredients-Asia that intake of 200mg per day could reduce the risk of infections, while a dose of one to two grams could decreases the severity of infection.
Vitamin C brands
Vitamin C is one of the most common supplements available in the market.
A search on iHerb shows that there are 5,577 available results, while 24,547 results could be found on Alibaba, including vitamin C in its raw form and private label products.
Out of the many brands, in the case of Singapore’s supermarket chain Fairprice, some of the top-selling brands in recent weeks include Redoxon, Cebion for soluble vitamin C tablets.
On the other hand, Ocean Health, Blackmores, and Kordels were sought after for its vitamin C capsule or tablets.
In South Korea, local media Joongbu Daily reported that 2,400 sets of vitamin C sold under the brand Goryeo Eundan were sold out in 20 minutes on a TV shopping channel.
In China, e-commerce platform JD.com said sales of vitamin C were up five-fold.