Antioxidant nutrients provide an essential boost needed for a healthy immune system. Studies have shown that vitamin C can support immunity in numerous ways; it stimulates the production of our immune system’s white blood cells (leukocytes); protects immune cells from free radical damage; increases the antiviral activity of immune cells by helping in the production of interferon; increase the ability for immune cells (neutrophils) to kill microbes; can shorten the life of a cold. Vitamin C’s antioxidant function helps support tissues by significantly decreasing the adverse effects of free radicals. Elevated free radical levels are generated in the body during times of physical, mental and biochemical stress and also during normal metabolism. The greater the stress, the more vitamin C the body uses. Free radicals are also generated through exposure to environmental pollutants, like air pollution. Vitamin C is also necessary for the production and repair of collagen and connective tissue and is therefore essential for skin, bone, muscle and joint health, to name a few.
General Vitamin C Info
C is a very potent antioxidant and is also known by its chemical name, ascorbic acid. It is a water-soluble vitamin (i.e. dissolves in water and does not require fat for absorption), and it does not get stored in the body (unlike the fat- soluble vitamins A, D, E and K). The highest concentration of vitamin C is in the adrenals, and under stress, our need for vitamin C increases dramatically.
What Does Vitamin C Do?
As one of the most potent antioxidants, vitamin C helps neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive compounds, and when in excess, can damage cells, damage DNA, promote cancer & compromise immunity. In addition to its role in supporting immunity and collagen synthesis, vitamin C has been shown to:
- Regenerates other antioxidants in the body, like vitamin E
- Protects vitamins B1, B2 and B5 from oxidation
- Significantly improves the absorption of plant-based iron (aka non-heme iron)
- Is necessary for the production of stress response hormones (adrenaline, cortisol, histamine, etc.)
Studies show that vitamin C may lower the risk of numerous chronic diseases:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Eye diseases
- Type 2 diabetes
- Vitamin C has also been shown in studies to:
- Reduce the life of a cold
- Possess antiviral activity
- Elevate glutathione levels (glutathione is critical for immunity and detoxification)
- Help asthmatics (especially for those that exercise or following respiratory infection)
- Support cognitive function, particularly in seniors
- Lower cortisol and regulate inflammation in runners
- Reduce muscle damage during endurance exercise
- Support wound healing
To keep blood levels of vitamin C elevated, the best strategy is to take multiple doses throughout the day. Take a dose every few hours, particularly when someone is feeling run down, coming down with a cold, recovering from illness,trauma or surgery. When they feel better, they can resume their regular once or ideally twice a day dosing. A popular vitamin C dosing strategy is called the “Vitamin C Flush.” There is some clinical evidence that suggests this protocol may help promote and speed-up healing:
- Keep a record of how much vitamin C you are taking
- Take 2 servings (1100 mg) of Immuno-C every hour in a glass of water
- When you feel the need to go to the bathroom, and your stool is very soft, you’ve reached what is known and
- “bowel tolerance.”
- Make a note of how much you’ve consumed to reach bowel tolerance, and cut the dose down by 4 servings (E.g. if it took 11,000 mg to reach bowel tolerance cut back 4 servings (2,200 mg) and have 8, 800 mg of vitamin C daily for 1 week).
Things That Interfere With Or Deplete Vitamin C
The body’s need for vitamin C increases dramatically based on our levels of stress. The more stress one is under, the greater the demand for this vitamin! Simple sugars compete with vitamin C, and UV radiation, lead/mercury and some prescriptions, like the birth control pill, can deplete it.
deficiency is known as scurvy and is rare in the so-called “developed countries.” Individuals that are obese, diabetic or smoke are at higher risk of deficiency. 35-45% of obese individuals are vitamin C deficient. Government studies have shown that 43% of American adults and 25% of Canadian adults were not consuming adequate amounts of vitamin C. An outright deficiency was found to exist in 7% of Americans and 3% of Canadians. Smokers have 25% less vitamin C levels in their blood than non-smokers. Each cigarette a person smokes uses up approximately 25-35 mg of vitamin C.
To add insult to injury, numerous studies have found that many of our fruits, vegetables and grains are lower in vitamin C today than they were decades ago. Poor soil management and the use of pesticides are largely to blame for these declines. It is also worth noting that some food storage, food preservation and cooking methods can lower the levels of vitamin C in some foods. Storing green beans at 4°C for 7 days after harvesting results in a 77% loss in vitamin C. Storing spinach at room temperature resulted in a 100% loss of vitamin C after just 4 days. After 6 months of storage, frozen green peas lost 66% of their vitamin C. There are clearly many factors that contribute to suboptimal dietary vitamin C intake.
Different Forms of Vitamin C
There are many different forms of vitamin C; there are mineral ascorbates, where minerals are chemically bound to vitamin C, like calcium ascorbate; fat-soluble forms of vitamin C, like ascorbyl palmitate; and the tried and true straight ascorbic acid. There is little scientific evidence that one form is better than the next. The overwhelming majority of research has focused on good old ascorbic acid. Vitamin C is available in a capsule, tablet and even liquid. There is some debate as to the stability of the liquid form. A powdered form offers some unique advantages, especially when it is unflavoured and unsweetened. You can control the dosing, it dissolves immediately, there are no excipients that are commonly found in some tablets and capsules (fillers, binders, flow agents, preservatives, colors, flavors, and sweeteners), and lastly, powders are by far the most cost-effective.
Recipe 1 - Immunity Gummies – Kid’s (and parents) will love this!
- 2 cups of juice (your choice of apple, grape, or combine the two)
- 5 tablespoons (75 grams) of unflavored gelatin powder
- ½ teaspoon (2200 mg) of Immuno-C Vitamin C Crystals
- Mix the gelatin and juice in a saucepan and whisk together
- Heat mixture over low heat until gelatin is completely dissolved
- Remove from heat and whisk in vitamin C
- Pour into a small glass dish or for an added bit of fun that kids will love, use silicone moulds that have fun shapes
- (hearts, stars, animals).
- Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours or until firm.
- Cut the gelatin into 10 equal size squares (approximately 220 mg of vitamin C per square)
Recipe 2 - Immune Boosted Smoothie
- 1 cup of apple, grape or your favourite unsweetened juice (preferably organic)
- 1/8 teaspoon (550 mg) of Immuno-C Vitamin C Crystals
- Mix together
- Serve on ice and enjoy!