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  • Writer's pictureLee Pearson (Tutor)

Vitamin C (Covid Buster?)

Widely recognized as a potent antioxidant and a critical component of the immune system, vitamin C participates in myriad biological processes and pathways and affects multiple organ systems. Recommended intakes for vitamin C vary according to age, sex, and life stages of healthy people, but higher intakes, especially in quantities achieved with supplemental vitamin C, are associated with reduced risk of developing a vast array of acute and chronic diseases, ranging in severity from the common cold to cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative disorders. Conversely, low vitamin C intake, which varies across different populations, and subsequent deficiencies impair key biological processes and pose an increased risk for certain conditions such as decreased fat utilization during exercise and increased severity of Alzheimer's disease. Vitamin C might be especially beneficial for critically ill people, particularly those with viral infections, who commonly have lower blood levels of vitamin C compared to healthy people.

The effects of intravenous vitamin C differ markedly from those achieved with dietary or supplemental intake because of the considerable concentrated increase in plasma levels that occurs with intravenous administration. Consequently, intravenous vitamin C offers promise as a therapeutic strategy against certain types of cancer and infections that oral supplementation cannot achieve. With some exceptions, oral and intravenous vitamin C supplementation have been shown to be safe, well-tolerated, and have low toxicity.

The seemingly contradictory findings from much of the research on vitamin C arise from differences in study design, populations, dose, and delivery modalities, as well as a host of other factors. Future studies, based on consistent, equivocal study designs, are necessary to elucidate the full potential of vitamin C in benefiting human health.

Vitamin C's role in immune function, in particular, is crucial. It stimulates the production of white blood cells, especially neutrophils, lymphocytes, and phagocytes, and promotes the cells' normal functions, such as their ability to detect, move toward, and engulf pathogens. Immune cells release large quantities of reactive oxygen species, often incurring damage. To protect themselves from this damage, immune cells accumulate large quantities of vitamin C, which serves as an antioxidant within the cells. Immune cells also release interferons, a class of proteins produced as a defensive response to viruses. Some evidence indicates that vitamin C promotes the production of interferon, a protein that participates in antiviral activity.

Vitamin C is involved in many other physiological processes. For example, it influences physiological levels of other vitamins. It regenerates vitamin E from its oxidized form and increases the bioavailability of iron from foods by enhancing gut absorption of nonheme iron. In addition, some evidence suggests that intravenous administration of vitamin C might be effective in treating certain types of viral infections and as adjunctive therapy in various types of cancers. Although many members of the animal kingdom can synthesize vitamin C, humans cannot and must obtain it in their diets.

Good sources of vitamin C

Vitamin C is found in a wide variety of fruit and vegetables.

Good sources include:

  • oranges and orange juice

  • red and green peppers

  • strawberries

  • blackcurrants

  • broccoli

  • brussels sprouts

  • potatoes

How much vitamin C do I need?

Adults aged 19 to 64 need 40mg of vitamin C a day.

You should be able to get all the vitamin C you need from your daily diet.

Vitamin C can't be stored in the body, so you need it in your diet every day.

In a nut shell Vitamin C can play a vital role in helping to achieve optimum health whilst at the same time contributing to a stronger ammune system. With this in mind why not tick the box and get your daily recommended 5 a day to help keep the doctor and Covid at bay.

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