Essential Vitamin C: Immune booster, soft tissue regenerator & cardiovascular optimiser
Supplementation in context
A single supplement will never be a magic bullet for our health as the human body requires a synergy of multiple nutriments (50 Essential bioavailable nutrients). These nutrients are required in individually quantities determined by our genetics and our lifestyle conditions. Supplements should always play a secondary supportive role in optimising health. A wholefoods diet, regular exercise, appropriate rest & optimal sleep should be our main focuses. Certain supplements are recommended for probable modern day nutrient deficiencies (a blood test will testify this) and increased nutrient demands when training. Typical modern lifestyles of high stress, high environmental pollution and processed nutrient deprived foods increase our needs for supplementation. Supplements are not compensators for an enduring poor diet.
Vit C Intro:
‘Many degenerative diseases involve oxidation, and it is clear that vitamin C can very effectively prevent many of these oxidation processes, because it is a very strong antioxidant.’
Dr. Balz Frei (Harvard University).
Vitamin C is an ‘essential’ water-soluble vitamin, the human body can’t synthesise it itself and is therefore required through dietary means. Being Water soluble excess amounts of vitamin C will be excreted not stored.
Symptoms of vitamin C deficiency:
Dry/splitting hair, rough dry scaly skin, nosebleeds, gingivitis (inflamed/tender gums), bleeding gums long healing rate, easy bruising and increased infections/frequent colds.
Long-term vitamin C deficiencies can contribute to scurvy, high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, stroke, certain cancers & Atherosclerosis.
- Enzymatic co-factor
- Builds collagen needed to bind connective tissues: bones, teeth, gums, joints, tendons, ligaments and skin.
- Helps create Carnitine (a body fat oxidiser)
- A component of anti-stress hormones
- A powerful antioxidant – neutralises excess free-radicals; slows/prevents cell damage and ageing
- Helps iron absorption
- Builds and maintains blood vessels, increasing vasodilation, reducing cardiovascular disease and increasing blood flow (nutrient/o2 delivery and waste product removal of cells)
- Normalises blood sugar levels
- Assists metabolism of cholesterol to bile acids, which may help reduce cholesterol and gallstones
- Supports the immune system, fighting viral infections (colds/flu) and reduces allergy symptoms
- Contributor to the Prevention of cancer, osteoarthritis, age-related macular disease, asthma etc
Practical Supplement guidelines:
Natural sources of vitamin C contain synergistic nutritional components that not only bring their own benefit but also assist vitamin C’s actions (these can’t be mad synthetically in a lab), for instance bioflavonoids help recycles vitamin C.
Optimal (unlike RDA) adult levels of vitamin C is 200mg/day which is enough to maintain a blood level of 70-80 mMol/L. This can be acquired through 5 servings of fresh fruit and veg a day.
Pregnant/lactating mothers, smokers, alcoholics, people with high stress, living in polluted environments & those that partake in regular intense training (with increased demand of soft tissue rebuilding) require more vitamin C.
Vitamin C is oxidised by heat, oxygen and prolonged storage. The fresher your fruit and vegetables the greater it’s preservation of vitamin C content. For instance broccoli left at room temperature for 6 days can show a reduction of vitamin C by up to 80%! Cooking methods and canning can reduce a foods nutritional content as well.
Best wholefood sources:
Bell peppers (especially red), chilli peppers, brussel sprouts, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomato, cauliflower, kale, papaya, oranges, kiwi fruit, grapefruit, strawberries.
Fruit and vegetable Juicing as well as lemon or lime juice added to water make good vitamin C rich beverages
Fermented vegetables have increased vitamin C content.
Top tips to retain vitamins/antioxidants in food:
1) Eat wholefoods uncooked and raw (ideally around 40% of your diet)
2) Make an effort to cut up your fruits and vegetables as close to eating them as possible
3) Steam fruits and veggies, instead of boiling when possible
Highest natural supplement sources:
Camu camu berry powder, Acerola berry powder, Indian Gooseberry (Amla) powder, Rose hip powder & acai berry powder
Take between ¼ to 1 teaspoon per day as a vitamin C insurance strategy (remember to still eat your veggies). Mix in smoothies, soups, yogurts and other drinks.
Combating acute colds & flu:
‘When animals are sick, they greatly increase their liver or kidney production of vitamin C. Humans, primates and guinea pigs have lost this ability’. Dr Ronald Hunningham
Take 1000 mg of Vitamin C to fight off an oncoming cold and 2000 mg per day to get rid of a cold already in your system. Doses of 200 mg at a time has been shown to maximise absorption efficiency. Taking vitamin C every 2 hours increases plasma levels more than a single dose. This causes ‘tissue saturation’ which prevents a virus from replicating.