With flu and cold season on the rise, we need a nutrient that helps protect and fight against sickness. This is a substance your body needs to form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle and collagen in bones. It is also vital to your body’s healing process. This nutrient is called Vitamin C.
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble nutrient found in some foods. In the body, it acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are compounds formed when our bodies convert the food we eat into energy. People are also exposed to free radicals in the environment from cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet light from the sun.
In layman’s terms, Vitamin C is an antioxidant. It is important for your skin, bones, and connective tissue. It promotes healing and helps the body absorb iron. Vitamin C improves the absorption of iron from plant-based foods and helps the immune system work properly to protect the body from disease.The body also needs vitamin C to make collagen, a protein required to help wounds heal.
Scientifically Proven Benefits of Taking Vitamin C
- Reduce your risk of chronic disease
- Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant that can boost your blood antioxidant levels. This may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease.
- Help manage high blood pressure
- Vitamin C supplements have been found to lower blood pressure in both healthy adults and those with high blood pressure.
- Lower your risk of heart disease
- Vitamin C supplements have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. These supplements may lower heart disease risk factors, including high blood levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Reduce blood uric acid levels and help prevent gout attacks
- Vitamin-C-rich foods and supplements have been linked to reduced blood uric acid levels and lower risk of gout.
- Helps prevent iron deficiency
- Vitamin C can improve the absorption of iron that is poorly absorbed, such as iron from meat-free sources. It may also reduce the risk of iron deficiency.
- Boosts immunity
- Vitamin C may boost immunity by helping white blood cells function more effectively, strengthening your skin’s defense system, and helping wounds heal faster.
- Protects your memory and thinking as you age
- Low vitamin C levels have been linked to an increased risk of memory and thinking disorders like dementia, while a high intake of vitamin C from foods and supplements has been shown to have a protective effect.
Where to Find Vitamin C and How Much Do We Need?
Vitamin C is found in a wide variety of fruit and vegetables.
Good sources include:
- Citrus fruit, such as oranges and orange juice
- Brussels sprouts
How much of vitamin C do I need?
Vitamin C cannot be stored in the body, so you need it in your diet every day.
For adults, the recommended dose of Vitamin C per day is 65-90mg. For children, no more than 400mg per day to protect your child without any side effects.
What happens if I take too much vitamin C?
Taking large amounts (more than 1,000mg per day) of vitamin C can cause:
- Stomach pain
These symptoms should disappear once you stop taking vitamin C supplements.
Strategies to Strengthen your Immune System During Cold and Flu Season
The immune system is your body’s surveillance system, working all hours of the day to identify and eliminate the viruses and bacteria that will make you sick. Listed below are strategies that you can implement to strengthen your immune system this cold and flu season.
● Wash your hands
Hand washing is one of the best strategies you can use to avoid getting sick. It should take you at least 20 seconds to wash your hands. Make sure to use warm water and soap and wash your hands after visiting the toilet, and before and after eating.
It makes it harder for viruses to stay airborne if there is moisture in the air. Speak to your pharmacist about suitable products to keep the air moist in your house or office.
● Get plenty of sleep
Not getting enough sleep as well as poor quality sleep can have an effect on your immune system.
● Drink lots of water
Drinking lots of water helps flush toxins from the body and keeps mucus in the respiratory tract thin. If you have a cold, mucus increases to fight the infection and keeping the mucus thin can make it easier for it to be expelled from the body either through coughing or a runny nose.
● Good nutrition
Eating a healthy, balanced diet which is rich in whole foods, fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds; is important for a healthy immune system.
● Regular Exercise
Regular gentle exercise is good for both your immune system and your mental health
● Spend time outdoors
Being cooped up inside heated buildings with recirculated air in winter can help viruses to spread.
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— Calla Martin —