Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts To Staying Healthy This Winter: 2. Do take extra vitamin C with flavanoids (don’t use the chewable kind)

By Dr. Sharon Gurm

2. Do take extra vitamin C with flavanoids (don’t use the chewable kind)

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is one of the most important nutrients for the immune system. Research shows that when our immune system is compromised, white blood cells take up more vitamin C than when we are well. Research has shown that taking vitamin C reduces the duration of cold symptoms, predominately because it improves the function of the human immune system by upregulating antimicrobial and natural killer cell activities, as well lymphocyte activity. Other research has found conflicting results, but in those studies very low doses of oral vitamin C were used. Supply must meet the need – and our body’s needs are greater depending on the circumstance. Meaning, for vitamin C to be effective, you’ve got take enough of it.

Through the winter, take at least 2-3 grams a day. At the very first sign of a cold, take more – up to 8-10 grams a day in divided doses. You’ll know you’ve reached maximum absorption if you begin to experience loose stools (called ‘bowel tolerance’), so scale back a bit and take the highest dose that doesn’t cause loose stools or diarrhea. The best type of vitamin C formula will be found in a complex with flavanoids – plant-based antioxidants that support cardiovascular and immune function and buffer the acidity of ascorbic acid, making it easier on the gut and enhancing its intestinal absorption. Avoid the chewable kind – they are often laden with sugar (‘fructose’ or ‘dextrose’), which is counterproductive to immune health. Vitamin C is water-soluble, meaning it does not have to be taken with food to be absorbed, so you can take it on an empty stomach (as long it’s the buffered type).

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Shaik-Dasthagirisaheb YB, et al. Role of vitamins D, E and C in immunity and inflammation. J Biol Regul Homeost Agents, 2013;27(2)291-5.

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