The word is out that Vitamin C can help fight against colds and flu or shorten their duration. Let’s look at the reasoning behind that and why you need extra Vitamin C, all year long, not just during cold and flu season.
Vitamin C helps your immune system do its job more efficiently, but any kind of stress will deplete the body of this vital nutrient. Stress can come in the form of a cold, an environmental factor like pollution, mental and physical stress, aches and pains, just anything that causes the body to work harder at staying healthy and fighting off invaders.
Research has suggested that we may need 10-20 times more Vitamin C than the RDA guidelines. The RDA guidelines have been set just high enough to prevent scurvy, but we all know that many factors surround us today that cause stress to the system. The system cannot function at its optimal levels if it’s lacking the necessary nutrients to aid in its recovery and rebuilding process.
Many of these studies have been conducted on guinea pigs, because like humans, guinea pigs do not produce Vitamin C within the body like other animals do.
One study conducted at George Washington University used two groups of guinea pigs. One group was given Vitamin C supplements while the other group was not. For three weeks the guinea pigs were subjected to deadly substances once a week. Twice as many guinea pigs died in the deficient group as did in the supplemented group.
The survivors in the deficient group were then put through another round of tests. This time the scientists gave part of them 100 milligrams of Vitamin C a day and the other remaining survivors were given 1000 milligrams of Vitamin C a day. After 4 weeks of this study, the guinea pigs who had been given the highest dose of Vitamin C had regained their health while the group receiving the lower dose of Vitamin C did not regain health.
This study concludes that the body needs high doses of Vitamin C during stressful times, like winter, to maintain health.
An Australian study used twins to determine if Vitamin C had any resistance to cold and flu viruses. Of the twins, one was given 1000 milligrams of Vitamin C a day and the other was given a sugar pill. The study concluded that the twin who had taken the Vitamin C did recover from a cold almost 20% quicker than those who did not receive Vitamin C.
Soldiers have also been tested many times and found that the ones who were given high doses of Vitamin C supplements had an estimated 68% less illness than the soldiers who were not given supplements.
Vitamin C may, or may not, be a miracle nutrient, but with so many studies indicating that it does boost the immune system and allows for quicker recovery, its wise to make sure you get plenty of this little powerhouse vitamin.