We all know about the incredible protective power of Vitamin C, but do you know why and how it works, or how much of it is enough? World-renowned nutritional expert, Patrick Holford, gives us some insight into how this super-nutrient works and why you should up your intake this coming winter.
“Think of your immune system as your own personal medical team, skilled in the art of healing, always on call and always there to take preventive measures to avert a crisis. Whether you are trying to prevent or cure an illness, your immune system is your main line of defence,” says Holford.
“The functioning of the immune system is dependent on specific nutrients – most importantly, Vitamin C. Our production of natural antibiotics and complement proteins, and the ability of our cells to carry out, engulf and digest invaders are all dependent on Vitamin C,” he says.
“Supplementing up to 2000 mg (for most people on most days) more than doubles blood plasma levels compared to RDA levels. Even though the excess is finally excreted, rather than being a “waste”, this actually protects the bladder and urinary tract,” says Holford.
10 reasons to up your Vitamin C intake:
- The immune system depends on having healthy immune cells (lymphocytes and leucocytes) and the associated molecules such as antibodies. Vitamin C is essential for both.
- Vitamin C is strongly anti-viral. Many viruses, such as flu and the common cold, do not necessarily enter the bloodstream; rather, they spread in the mucous on the respiratory tract membranes. Consequently, there is very little antibody stimulation and the job of the defence falls to cell-mediated T-lymphocytes (white blood cells responsible for detecting foreign or abnormal cells). The vitamin C level of T-cells are depleted by smoking, age and infection. Supplementation of Vitamin C In these cases increases the ability of the T-cells to do their job and reduce symptoms.
- Apart from stimulating natural antibacterial factors in the body, Vitamin C will actually improve the performance of antibodies.
- Vitamin C can be bacteriostatic or bactericidal (i.e. it can hinder the growth of bacteria or kill them, depending on the bug).
- Vitamin C detoxifies, to varying degrees, many bacterial toxins. It is often the toxin that causes all or some of the unpleasant symptoms we feel during a cold or flu infection.
- Of all antioxidant nutrients, the two most important for the skin are Vitamins A and C. Vitamin C makes collagen, a substance that is a bit like glue, holding your cells together. When you lack Vitamin C, your skin loses its tone and wrinkles develop.
- Vitamin C stimulates non-lysozyme anti-bacterial factor (NLAF) found in tears. This is of particular importance for people who often suffer from eye infections.
- Vitamin C also helps sore eyes and a runny nose, as it is a natural anti-histamine.
- Numerous studies have shown Vitamin C to be associated with improved bone density as well as helping the absorption of iron, giving us good reason to increase our intake as we get older.
- Vitamin C increases resistance to stress, lessens allergic reactions, helps arthritic conditions, slows down the ageing process and improves energy production.