With the cold season underway many of you may have already been suffering from a nasty bout of this illness. For others, you may have been lucky enough to fend it off so far and now just want to take precautionary measures to ensure that you don't get hit with it in the first place.
This causes many people to start taking additional Vitamin C as extra protection. Unfortunately however, although commonly thought to, Vitamin C does not offer a great deal of protection against the common cold.
Vitamin C Health Benefits
Don't give up completely on your vitamin C supplements however as there are many other positive health benefits they have for you.
One of the basic jobs that this vitamin plays is working to help the body absorb the iron mineral. It does this by helping to form haemoglobin in the red blood cells. Having proper iron levels is particularly important in females out there as they lose some every month with their menstrual cycle.
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Another role vitamin C plays is with promoting a strong immune system and helping to build collagen. This collagen acts as the stabilizing tissue in the bone, muscle and skin.
Vitamin C As An Antioxidant:
Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant in the body, which will help to protect against the cell-damaging free radicals that we sometimes come in contact with. Without enough of this antioxidant protection, mostly taken in the form of fruits and vegetables, you will find yourself at a higher health risk for a larger number of diseases and health conditions.
Getting enough antioxidants is particularly important for those of you who engage in vigorous regular exercise as well because this usually increases the amounts you need to function optimally and stay in the best of health.
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Pre-menopausal women are also largely at an advantage if they choose to supplement with vitamin C. It appears as though women who increased the dosage they took to around 205 mg decreased their risk of developing breast cancer.
Vitamin C may also greatly reduce the risk of suffering from cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, colon and lung as well as help to protect the digestive and urinary tract.
Long Term Effects:
The long term effects of taking vitamin C also look good as those who have been supplementing for 10 years or more also have a reduced chance of developing cataracts and potentially show higher bone densities.
Applied topically, vitamin C helps the skin to feel smoother and decreases the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. If you combine it with sunscreen you may also decrease the risk that you have associated with sun exposure.
Getting Your Vitamin C
Vitamin C is most commonly found in fruits and vegetables and while taking it in supplement form is just as good as far as absorption is concerned, making sure you include plenty of vitamin C-rich foods in your diet is also important as they provide a variety of other nutrients that are necessary for good health.
The RDA is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men however this is the bare minimum that you should be taking in. It is more beneficial to surpass this amount to around 200 mg a day.
While vitamin C won't stop a cold or prevent it, taking a very high dose of around 1000 mg a day when you feel yourself getting sick or already experiencing the cold can help you recover faster. The safe limit to take is 2000 mg per day so even at that dose you do not need to worry about issues such as toxicity.
If you decide to supplement with this vitamin and often suffer from an uneasy stomach after doing so, then you may want to look into one that also combines it with the minerals sodium ascorbate and calcium ascorbate.
Below is a list of foods that are particularly high in vitamin C so be sure to include these in your diet.
- Red pepper (3 oz). - 163 mg
- Green pepper (3 oz.) - 110 mg
- Broccoli, 1 cup cooked - 98 mg
- Orange juice, 1 cup - 98 mg
- Papaya, 1/2 medium - 95 mg
- Cranberry juice, 1 cup - 90 mg
- Strawberries, 1 cup - 85 mg
- Orange, 1 medium - 80 mg
- Kiwi, 1 medium - 75 mg
- Guava, 1 fruit - 165 mg
- Brussels Sprouts, 100 grams - 80 mg
If looking to fight or prevent a cold is mostly what you are after then your best bet is going to be minimiznig your stress levels as much as possible. As hard as it may be to believe that a non-physiological thing such as stress can have such a huge impact on you physiologically speaking, it does.
High stress levels are a very significant problem that many people face and if not taken care of can have many negative effects on the body.
A perfect example of this is to look at students around exam time. They are sniffling like no tomorrow. Why? Because they are so stressed out during exams. For some individuals it doesn't hit them until right after the exams are over, however during the exams their body is implementing its fight response to try and prevent the cold from taking place.
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Once the stressor is removed - BAM - they are sick. You may have also noticed this even if you are not a student but have had a very busy or stressful period at work or in your personal life.
So don't rely on vitamin C as a method to stop a cold but at the same time don't underestimate the numerous benefits that this nutrient provides. It is a very good idea to make sure your diet is saturated with vitamin C and potentially look into taking a supplement form if you have difficulties meeting at least 200 mg daily.
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