Vitamin C is a key factor in the immune system, including white blood cell function and interferon levels. It combats the effects of free radicals and promotes growth and tissue repair. Two-time Nobel prize winner, Dr. Linus Pauling was the first to realize vitamin C’s crucial importance in the maintenance of a healthy immune system. In 1970 he proposed that regular intake of vitamin-C in amounts far higher than the officially sanctioned RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) could help prevent and shorten the duration of the common cold and even prevent them. Although the medical establishment immediately voiced their strong opposition to this idea, many ordinary people believed Dr. Pauling and began taking large amounts of vitamin-C. Most immediately noticed a great decrease in the frequency and severity of their colds.
Vitamin C is important for the development of collagen. Collagen is a protein that gives structure to bones, cartilage, muscle, and blood vessels. Collagen has many benefits, supports a range of the body’s structures and is necessary to the formation of bones and teeth.
Humans, unlike most other animals, do not generate their own Vitamin C, and they need to take it through foods sources which are rich in Vitamin C. Dr. Pauling recommended vitamin C intakes of 1000 mg/day or more. The official RDA is 60 mg/day (100 mg/day for smokers). So who is right? How much do we need? To answer this question it is crucial to realize that the RDA is not, in anyway, based on what is required for optimum health. The RDA is simply the amount required to avoid scurvy, the most obvious deficiency disease. Actually the RDA is based on the vitamin C content of the average diet. The logic goes somewhat like this: “The average “healthy” North American diet provides about 60 mg/day of vitamin C, so since scurvy is virtually unknown in the USA today 60 mg/day must be adequate.” So much for science! Many experts are now realizing that the RDA of 60 mg/day is far too low to provide for optimum health and protection against disease.
A team of medical researchers at the National Institutes of Health in the USA recently completed a study designed to determine the vitamin C requirements of healthy, young men. They found that a minimum intake of 1000 mg/day was required to completely saturate the blood plasma with vitamin C. They also found that vitamin C should be taken in divided doses throughout the day as urinary excretion increases rapidly when individual doses exceed 500 mg. The researchers conclude that the RDA should be raised to 200 mg/day. This amount of vitamin C can be obtained from a diet containing five daily servings of fresh fruit and vegetables; unfortunately, less than 15 per cent of children and adults in the USA actually consume such a diet.
While 200 mg/day of vitamin C may be sufficient to maintain a reasonable health status in healthy, young men, it is clear that such a relatively low intake is far from adequate for older and sick people. It is also evident that far greater amounts are required to provide optimum protection against degenerative diseases such as cancer and heart disease. A diet rich in vitamin C from fruits and vegetables provides the best protection against cancer and heart disease. Researchers from the National Institute on Aging report that elderly people who take vitamin C and E supplements have a 50 per cent lower risk of dying prematurely from disease than do people who do not supplement.
A Californian study concluded that people who consume more than 750 mg/day of vitamin C reduce their risk of dying prematurely by 60 per cent. Italian researchers have concluded that older people, especially the sick are exposed to a much higher level of oxidative stress than younger people and their low blood levels of vitamin C reflect this. Other research has found that people who suffer from asthma, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease have much lower levels of vitamin C in their blood than do healthy people.
Taken in large enough doses, vitamin C revs up your immune system by pumping enough fuel into white blood cells to destroy invading viruses and bacteria.
Vitamin C increases interferon levels and has interferon-like properties itself. It acts as a natural antihistamine that helps dry up watery eyes and reduce nasal and chest congestion. It is also a powerful antioxidant that can help prevent the damage that your body endures when viruses or bacteria attack your immune system.
At the first sign of cold or flu symptoms, take vitamin C with bioflavonoids or rose hips four to six times a day, says Dr. Meletis. “The bioflavonoids and rose hips strengthen the vitamin C’s infection-fighting power by 35 percent,” he says.
German researchers have now demonstrated that a baseline amount of beta-interferon must be active in order for competent immune recognition and response to any viral invader, which of course includes the swine flu (H1N1), the Avian flu and the NDM-1 superbug. One of the many immune roles of vitamin C is to enhance the production of flu virus and superbug killing beta-interferon.
German research helps to clarify one angle of healthy immunity. Certain immune cells must be primed to go into action, and a key sign of their readiness is a small baseline production of beta-interferon. This enables a more vigorous production of interferon upon viral exposure, and they demonstrate that the interferon is specifically used to help your higher-powered immune response actually identify the invader for a targeted immune response. Without adequate interferon there is a delay or inefficiency in recognition, making it more difficult to identify the enemy and mount a response.
Interferon levels are boosted with vitamin C. In fact, it was just a few years ago when a paper was published explaining how vitamin C could contain a world-wide avian flu pandemic (at that time we were more concerned with the bird flu). This comprehensive review paper emphasized the importance of vitamin C in regards to the flu, and a flu pandemic in particular. The research suggests up to 5 grams of vitamin C per day for general health, 1 gram of vitamin C every hour to help fight off a bug, and much higher amounts if a flu bug has gained a toehold in you. There are no dangerous side effects to taking a higher dosage of natural Vitamin C. There are major side effects to increasing the dosage of pharmaceutically made antibodies.
In another study published in The Lancet (December 18, 1999) , 45 people with high blood pressure (hypertension) had their levels fall by about 9.1% after consuming a 500-milligram supplement of vitamin C each day for a month. The benefits of Vitamin C not only helps lower high blood pressure it eliminates the need for beta-blocker drugs that actually triggers another debilitating disease called Type 2 diabetes. Imagine how many people could be helped by simply including adequate amounts of vitamin C in their diet! The benefits of Vitamin C not only contributes to lower blood pressure and reduces the chance of type 2 diabetes it also saves you thousands of dollars in medical and drug costs.
In clinical studies the numbers (top and bottom) in blood pressure readings are inversely associated with ascorbic acid levels (vitamin C). The study showed that women with the highest levels of ascorbic acid had a decline of about 4.6 mm Hg in systolic and just over 6 mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure, compared to women with the lowest ascorbic acid levels.
Vitamin C, is a potent antioxidant, which lowers blood pressure by protecting the body’s supply of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels, contributing to healthy blood pressure levels.
Vitamin C is truly a wonder nutrient and there is no doubt that many of the serious degenerative diseases plaguing the civilized world today can be prevented or even reversed through an adequate intake of this essential vitamin