Vitamin-C, Nature's Immune System Booster
Vitamin C is in almost everyone's medicine cabinet or supplement shelf in the kitchen or pantry. It's the number one supplement people grab for when they are coming down with a cold, flu or infection of any type. And rightfully so, since vitamin C plays an important role in fighting bacterial and viral infections and boosting the immune system as an antioxidant.
Many childhood diseases can be prevented with vitamin C, including measles, polio, encephalitis, tuberculosis, diphtheria, staphylococcus, herpes, pneumonia and tetanus. When vitamin C therapy was given to those who had whooping cough, the vitamin prevented the disease from progressing to the spasmodic stage in 75% of the cases.
Vitamin C plays such a strong role in the immune system that researchers in Arizona checked levels of the vitamin in the blood of those with cancer. Every cancer patient checked had levels that were extremely low, and amounts of 46 grams per day were given in an IV for two weeks before levels came back to normal. In some cases, vitamin C stopped the metastases of cancer.
In February 2007, researchers reported an improvement in health, daily function and cancer symptoms after administration of high doses vitamin C through IVs. In 2008, a reported 50% decrease in tumor weight and growth rate in mice was discussed in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The cancers were that of the brain, ovaries and pancreas.
Role in Healing Exceeds All Other Vitamins
It also helps heal wounds and burns because it is an essential component of collagen and connective tissue such as joints, tendons, and ligaments. As an integral part of skin, vitamin C can help slow down aging and the formation of wrinkles. Many beauty spas across the U.S. utilize topical applications of vitamin C in facials for reversing signs of aging. Often a difference is seen with one treatment.
Many people injure their backs at one time or another during life. Higher levels of vitamin C have been found to preserve the disks in the back, as reported in a study at Baylor University.
Anemia May Result From Not Enough Vitamin C
Many people are not aware of the little known functions of vitamin C. It aids in the formation of red blood cells and helps prevent hemorrhaging in the intestinal tract from alcohol or aspirin. It activates the inactive form of folic acid as well. These two functions are important to prevent anemia.
Smarter With Vitamin C
As an antioxidant, vitamin C protects vitamin B1, B2, folic acid, pantothenic acid, and vitamins A and E from oxidation. The brain and spinal cord are also protected from oxidation from vitamin C.
And also as an antioxidant, vitamin C also can assist the brain in performing its functions at optimum levels. Research has found that IQ levels rose about 3 points when vitamin C levels were increased in the diets of volunteers.
Since studies have shown that those with mental illness have much higher needs for vitamin C, supplements are often part of nutritional protocols for treating anxiety and schizophrenia.
The body's heat-regulating centers are located in the brain. Vitamin C influences these centers and can prevent heat stroke and prickly heat rash, and also protects against frostbite.
Stress-Reducing, Detoxifying Effects
As a stress-buster, vitamin C is used up rapidly by the adrenal gland when someone is under stress. The adrenal gland only stores 50 mg although the entire body stores up to 5000 mg.
Poisons are neutralized with this vitamin C because the vitamin is is a strong detoxifier in the body, participating in reactions that detoxify carcinogenic nitrosamines and nitrates found in some foods such as lunch meats. It also has been used successfully to neutralize the venom of snake and spider bites, insect stings and rabies. A topical solution can clear up poison ivy or poison oak if the vitamin is taken orally as well.
Large doses of vitamin C have been used in the detoxification process of those addicted to methadone, heroin and barbiturates. Researchers reported that the users were calmer, had their appetite restored, and the vitamin eliminated abnormal thoughts during the detox.
Vitamin C also detoxifies the body of harmful effects from alcohol.
Vitamin C can reduce the amount of some drugs that are needed; for example, painkillers and L-Dopa. In the case of painkillers, the natural endorphins are protected from being broken down by vitamin C.
Ascorbic acid acts as an electron donor in biochemical reactions for eight different enzymes. Two of them are in the synthesis of carnitine which transports fats into the mitochondria so they can be broken down and used for energy. Another one is important for the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine.
There are different forms of vitamin C available on the market: ascorbic acid, ester-C, calcium ascorbate, sodium ascorbate, potassium ascorbate, The ascorbate forms are not as effective as ascorbic acid.
Food Sources of Vitamin C
The camu camu fruit contains the highest amount of vitamin C (2800 mg per 100 grams) besides the Kakadu plum (3100 mg per 100 grams). Rose hips and acerola berries are also rich in vitamin C. Lemons, grapefruit, oranges and tangerines contain smaller amounts of vitamin C, around 30 mg per 100 grams. Black currants provide 200 mg; red pepper 190 mg, and parsley 130 mg. The persimmon provides 60 mg.
How Much Vitamin C Do You Need Each Day?
The North American Dietary Reference Intake recommends between 90 mg and 2000 mg vitamin C per day for adults. Nutritionists may recommend more to remedy specific diseases.
Vitamin C Deficiency
Those who are vitamin C deficient bruise easily, even after just brushing up hard against a coffee table. Their joints hurt, they may suffer from nosebleeds, and any new wounds or fractures heal slowly. Gums bleed, tooth enamel weakens, digestion is impaired and the person may also have shortness of breath. Often there is depression and the appearance of liver spots on the skin can also be considered a deficiency sign.
Vitamin C deficiency is called scurvy. In advanced cases, there is loss of teeth.
Toxicity of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is not toxic although large doses can cause loose stools. Because of this, most practitioners recommend that the amount taken is divided into smaller doses. Side effects of high doses may include skin rashes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, fatigue, flushed face, and disturbed sleep. However, these side effects are generally not seen in those who are sick, only those who are healthy.
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1 Dunne, Lavon. Nutrition Almanac, McGraw-Hill Publishing, 2002.