We’ve all heard how Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) can help you through colds and flu, but is this true? How does Vitamin C even work? Well, there’s no doubt Vitamin C is important to the body – a deficiency will leave you with Scurvy no less, which is the result of body not being able to manufacture collagen. However a low Vitamin C intake has been shown to increase the rates of cardiovascular disease, hypertension and a decreased life expectancy.For daily body function, Vitamin C prevents iron compounds becoming non-soluble, maximising the amount of iron you’ve ingested being used by the body rather than being excreted in an unusable form.
Vitamin C is also found at very high level in white blood cells – and this is where it’s importance to fighting infection appears to lie. The immune cells specifically store ascorbic acid, and once they are activated by a virus or bacteria, they consume this stored Vitamin C at a very high rate. As a result, an infection will quickly leave the body short of Vitamin C and this is why ingesting high doses of the vitamin during an infection can be beneficial. In fact the body’s consumption rate of Vitamin C during illness may actually prevent you from over-saturating with this vitamin – but only while you are ill.
The United States National Academy of Science recommend a daily intake of 75-90mg per day, however they contend a dose of 2000mg per day can be tolerated by the body. Saturating the body with Vitamin C will result in diarrhoea, which is considered by proponents of orthomolecular medicine as the required marker for the body reaching it’s actual Vitamin C requirements – although the latter has not been clinically proven.
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