Vitamin C 2. Vitamin C as an antioxidant and preventer of colds.

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Quoting from the Collins Dictionary of Medicine:

Vitamin C and E are antioxidants and may be valuable, in doses many times the minimum requirement, in combating the damaging effect of FREE RADICALS.

And from the PDR for Nutritional supplements:1

Vitamin C is arguably the most important water-soluble biological antioxidant.

The previous blog went into how important Vitamin C is in the formation of the structural component of our body, collagen.  This blog is looking at its antioxidant activities and its effect on the immune system.

As an antioxidant, Vitamin C scavenges the reactive species of free radicals of both oxygen and nitrogen.  What this means is that it prevents oxidation of LDL cholesterol, oxidative damage to our DNA and oxidative damage to the various proteins in the body.  When it comes to nitrogen, there was a recent blog on how red meat can be damaging to health – and one of the ways it can be is when the meat is burnt during the cooking process.  This means Vit C helps us detoxify the carcinogenic products of burnt food such as nitrosamines- for it isn’t just burnt meat that is a problem, but all burnt food.  Vitamin C also helps detoxify pesticides and heavy metals, high levels of which are carcinogenic.

Vitamin C acts as a secondary antioxidant by regenerating Vitamin E and helping preserve levels of the most important antioxidant produced by our own body, glutathione, particularly when we are under heavy load of toxicity or stress.  Dr Mark Hyman likened glutathione to fly paper – problematic chemicals in the body stick to it and so can be taken to the liver for removal from the body.

When it comes to colds, as the above video says, Vit C works better as a preventer of colds than as a cure.  Studies disagree as to whether Vitamin C shortens a cold if we already have one or are going down with one.  However, if we maintain good levels of Vitamin C as a matter of course, we are helping our body produce the necessary antibodies and cytokines.  Cytokines are proteins in the immune system that signal the various parts of the immune system whether to become active or not.  Vitamin C also has a modulating effect upon inflammation.  When we are damaged, inflammation is an important part of protecting and healing a damaged area.  However, all too frequently the body gets a bit over excited and produces too much inflammation – and Vitamin C helps keep this important response balanced.

So maintaining good Vitamin C levels helps us prevent illness and disease, it helps detoxification and works with other antioxidants to help prevent cancer from getting a hold.  Prevention is a whole heap easier and simpler than a cure.  As stated in the previous blog, we cannot make Vitamin C in our body, but must have a daily intake and, if this going to come from the diet, we need freshly picked vegetables and fruit every day throughout the year, not ones picked a couple of weeks ago in Kenya.  So to be sure of a good supply of Vitamin C, then supplementation is sensible and, as gone into previously, not all supplements are created equal.  Some are much more effective than others.  But apart from that, being water soluble means that we can’t overdose on Vitamin C.  Take too much of a poor supplement, though, and Vitamin C can become a cure for constipation.

No fresh vegetables? There are always nettles.

  1. PDR for Nutritional Supplements.  Sheldon Saul Hendler with David M Rorvik. Pub Thomson Reuters []

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