There’s a good chance that the most common advice you receive these days when you’re feeling ‘under the weather’ is to reach out for more ‘Vitamin C’. But is there any substance to the ‘Immunity Boosting’ claims made for Vitamin C? Let’s find out.
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C or ‘Ascorbic acid’ is a water-soluble vitamin that is widely known for its antioxidant activity; however, it's storage capacity is low, thus you need to replenish your body with adequate levels of Vitamin C, daily!
Understanding Free Radicals
Free Radicals are unbalanced,uncontrolled entities, produced in the body from toxins, pollutants & poor dietary habits. Long-term exposure to them leads to chronic inflammatory disorders such as Diabetes, Dementia, Coronary Artery Disease, Aging etc.
Vitamin C: potent antioxidant & Immunity enhancer?
Vitamin C reinforces the body’s natural immunity in multiple ways:
1) Vitamin C by nature is a "free electron donor"; it donates missing electrons to Free Radicals, thereby neutralizing them, while converting itself to dehydroascorbic acid. Thus, Vitamin C showcases potent Antioxidant activity.
2) Vitamin C boosts synthesis of Collagen - the single most abundant protein found in the human body. Collagen makes up our hair, skin, nails, gut & capillary linings. Since skin is the first line of defense against invading pathogens, a diet rich in Vitamin C would enable better immunity. Additionally, Vitamin C is essential for the formation of the ‘Mucosal lining’, where foreign pathogens get trapped & subsequently neutralized by antibodies.
3) Neutrophils - primary antibodies that protect the body from pathogenic invasion— make up 40% of the ‘White Blood Cell’ count. and have high concentrations of Vitamin C in them which acts as their energy fuel.
Goats synthesize their own Vitamin C. They produce up to 13g per day — much more than that consumed by an average human!
Should you rely on just ‘Orange Juice’ for your daily dose of Vitamin C?
As per science, Glucose & Vitamin C have the same 'transporter' in the body. Sugars in fruit beverages compete with Vitamin C for absorption. Any guesses on who wins?
So how should I get my daily dose of Vitamin C?
Foods that are naturally low in sugar while high in Vitamin C will ensure proper absorption & utilization of Vitamin C:
· Bell Pepper: 212% of DV per 100 gm
· Cauliflower: 141% of DV per small head
· Broccoli: 149% of DV per 1 stalk
· Brussel Sprouts: 94% of DV per 100 gm
Vitamin C: route to a healthy heart?
Atherosclerosis— a type of heart disease that leads to hardening of arteries— can be fatal if left unchecked. Inflammation leads to damaging of arteries, which further leads to clotting, thereby narrowing the arteries. A detached clot can reach the heart or brain causing a Heart Attack or a Stroke respectively. Vitamin C heals arteries by boosting Collagen formation, increasing the elasticity of arteries & preventing Clot deposition.
Vitamin C & the ‘Energy’ correlation
Vitamin C converts non-ironic to a usable form by the body. As per a research study, Vitamin C has been proven to increase iron absorption by up to 67%. Iron boosts the body’s reserve of Hemoglobin, which is essential for transport of oxygen— which other than respiration, is essential for converting food to energy.
Who should one consume more of Vitamin C?
Although a diet rich in Vitamin C is quintessential for everyone, those with certain health conditions can benefit greatly by consuming more of it.
1. Gut condition: Vitamin C strengthens the body’s intestinal lining by boosting collagen synthesis. A proper probiotic supplement will meanwhile ensure a healthy ‘Gut Micro-biome’ i.e. healthy bacterial count.
2. Stress: Vitamin C absorption decreases secretion of ‘Cortisol’— a ‘stress’ hormone released by the adrenal gland. Apart from psychological stress, physical stress exerted by athletes during workout can also be managed by Vitamin C.
3. Other conditions: Alcoholism, antibiotic usage, heavy metal toxicity etc. all warrant more of Vitamin C consumption.
4. Viral Epidemics: Vitamin C is fuel for Neutrophils, NK T cells & B Cells, all of which act as soldiers, protecting our bodies against pathogenic invasion. By ensuring adequate Vitamin C intake, a stronger immune system will prevent the possibility of occurrence of Viral Infections.
What if I am on a Keto Diet?
Although Vitamin C can be transported by the same transporter as Glucose, 'Liposomal Vitamin C' enables direct absorption of Vitamin C through the Gut lining by binding with 'Fat molecules'. Since Sugar is not involved here, the absorption & bioavailability of Vitamin C in blood will be higher.