What is Vitamin C, and How Does it Help Beat Your Cold?:

We have all heard it before – you start sniffing and it’s onto the orange juice and vitamin supplements. But why is this? And how does vitamin C help get rid of your cold?

To understand how Vitamin C (or ascorbic acid) works in the body, let’s first get a clear idea about what vitamins are. Vitamins are carbon containing (organic) substances that act as a catalyst for chemical reactions within the body. In other words, they allow the body to break down foods using less energy and in less time. Therefore, when these compounds are lacking, such as in vitamin deficiency, bodily functions begin to breakdown and disease susceptibility greatly increases.

Vit C is important in maintaining the integrity of our artery walls, which is one of the reasons why is a good supporter of cholesterol reducing medication. Vitamin C increases the HDL cholesterol levels, which are the GOOD ones! This leads to a reduction in cholesterol. Moreover, it has a blood thinning role, and so is an excellent alternative to aspirin. In fact Vitamin C and Vitamin E  work almost as well as Warfarin.

 Moreover, important minerals such as iron, calcium and magnesium are absorbed within the digestive tract under acidic conditions. As vitamin C is acidic and works as an antioxidant by stabilising other molecules such as iron, it aids in increasing the solubility of such compounds so that they can be absorbed. Therefore, we often recommend that vitamin C supplements and iron supplements be taken together to increase absorption.   

Interestingly, vitamin C is similar structurally to glucose (i.e. sugar) which is why sweet food cravings increase when we become low in vitamin C. If we ate as our ancestors did, this would simply mean grabbing an extra piece of fruit. However, with today’s ample supply of sweet foods is it worth asking – is it sugar you are really craving, or is a vitamin C supplement required? This is particularly important in diabetes, as increased blood glucose and insulin resistance block the Vit C receptors, which can depress the immune system and lead to sickness.

Moreover, Vit C and Vit B5 are the main components of cortisone and adrenalin production, which are the ingredients the body uses to control allergies and histamine (what you take antihistamines to reduce). Thus Vit C helps to control asthma and hay fever, as well as helping with stress.

With the amount of cold and flu symptoms that proliferate throughout winter, it is becoming clear to us that Vit C is important in helping us get through unscathed. It is possible to get very effective vitamin supplements over the counter. Natural , better quality products have higher concentrations and more effective ingredients compared to generic products.