Vitamin C Helps Combat Infections, Flu

November 20, 2017 | Linda J. Dobberstein, Chiropractor, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

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Vitamin C Helps Combat Infections, Flu
Vitamin C deficiency was identified by Hippocrates and even the Egyptians as far back as 1550 BC. In the last one hundred years, numerous studies provided a vast understanding of vitamin C and its role in fighting infections, including when vitamin C was found to prevent pneumonia in the 1920s. However, biased studies over the years have spread the belief that vitamin C is ineffective in fighting infections. One result is the push of Big Pharma and government agencies recommendations of flu and pneumonia vaccines to prevent these infections and dismiss vitamin C. An extensive review publication entitled Vitamin C and Infections published in April 2017 characterizes the history and benefits of vitamin C against infections.

Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant that protects cells against the effects of infections, such as high levels of oxidative stress, reactive oxygen species (ROS) and tissue damage. Vitamin C directly influences the immune system because white blood cell vitamin C levels are tens of times higher than in the blood stream. Other immune cells including phagocytes, interferon production, viral replication, and T-Cell maturation are also affected by vitamin C levels.

Influenza, RSV, Pneumonia


Many different infections have been attenuated by vitamin C making it a rather remarkable nutrient. Research shows that the influenza virus causes greater lung damage when vitamin C is deficient. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) caused higher levels of oxidative damage when vitamin C levels were low. Even in early medical literature, it was noted that severe vitamin C deficiency was associated with pneumonia, i.e. scurvy induced pneumonia.

TB, Candida, and Bacteria


Vitamin C has been shown effective against tuberculosis (TB), several bacteria and bacterial toxins, virus, candida albicans, and protozoa. Animal studies show vitamin C decreased mortality against these tuberculosis, pneumococcus and β-hemolytic streptococci; Bacterial toxins included diphtheria toxin, tetanus toxin, endotoxin, and a set of clostridial toxins; c Protozoa infections include Entamoeba histolytica, Leishmania donovani, Toxoplasma gondii, and Trypanosoma brucei.

The media has recently reported on a tuberculosis outbreak which is a multidrug resistant strain. Estimated costs to treat one case of multidrug resistant TB are $134,000 because current antibiotics are no longer effective. Imagine if this costly medical treatment included some vitamin C intake. How much money would be saved with this inexpensive nutrient?

Common Cold and Infection Related Complications


Strong evidence exists that vitamin C can shorten the severity and/or duration of the common cold. Dosages used in various studies range from 2,000 mg to greater than 15,000 mg per day. This is far more than the adult RDA of 75-90 milligrams of vitamin C per day.

Asthma, bronchial sensitivity and irritation, and pneumonia may occur as complications from the common cold. It was found that a dose of just 1,000 mg of vitamin C per day decreased the occurrence of severe and moderate asthma attack associated with the common cold by an amazing 89 percent. Doses of 5,000 mg of vitamin C per day decreased bronchial sensitivity to histamine or allergy provoking compounds by 52 percent for those who had infection-related asthma. Research from the late 1950’s suggested that vitamin C might prevent sinusitis and ear infections.

Five controlled studies show positive significant effects of vitamin C against pneumonia. Shorter hospital stays, reduced fever, lower SED rate (an indicator of general inflammation) and less lung congestion and inflammation were found when pneumonia patients were given 250 to 1,600 mg of vitamin C in one study. These patients were also treated with an antibiotic. Patients not given vitamin C with the antibiotic were hospitalized 4-7 days longer than patients who had received even these small amounts of vitamin C.

Tetanus, Herpes Viruses, Sepsis


Other studies note vitamin C is helpful for tetanus, which is caused by a bacteria toxin from contaminated wounds. Vitamin C has been found able to reduce pain caused by herpes infections like herpes labialis and herpes zoster. Patients with septic shock had improved cardiac stability when intravenous vitamin C was added to their treatment. Septic shock is caused by a severe localized or systemic infection that causes organs to shut down. These studies and others provide evidence that vitamin C is helpful in fighting infections and/or calming down oxidative stress from inflammation related to infections.

If you consume at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, you will get about 200 mg of vitamin C. The Linus Pauling Institute notes that there is no reliable scientific evidence that high-dose vitamin C up to 10,000 mg per day is toxic or harmful. Many healthcare practitioners often recommend higher doses during illness. Humans, primates, and guinea pigs do not make vitamin C, thus it must be obtained through the diet.

Vitamin C provides even more benefits. It is required for several enzymatic functions, collagen and carnitine (amino acid) synthesis, and production of neurotransmitters – dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine essential for focus, drive, and mood. It helps lower inflammation and improve C-Reactive Protein/CRP levels, supports healthy blood pressure, and is essential for brain health and development. Vitamin C works best with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and other antioxidants, as antioxidants work in tandem. Consumers face the yearly push for flu and pneumonia vaccines with toxic adjuvants. Consider taking natural vitamin C to help strengthen your immune health.

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