February 1, 2013 by Dr. Sana Keller
I’m not talking about big guns in the physical sense (as so many others currently are!). A ‘Big Gun’ in the literal sense means powerful or influential. A ‘Big Gun’ can be a good thing, especially if it is powerful in protecting your health. A powerful ‘Big Gun’ to keep on hand during cold and flu season especially is something so simple and safe that it’s often overlooked. Considering that many of the other available cold and flu treatment options (pharmaceutically-speaking) come with a long list of potential side effects, something that is effective without being harmful is a winner in my books! That winner is Vitamin C.
In addition to helping your immune system stay strong with its antibacterial and antiviral effects, other powerful benefits of Vitamin C include potent antioxidant effect (as well as assisting other antioxidants’ effectiveness), antihistamine effects, promotion of healthy collagen growth, support for healthy blood vessels, and protection against cataracts.
Foods high in Vitamin C are the first line of defense, but don’t limit yourself to just citrus when thinking of Vitamin C sources. It is also found in rose hips, acerola cherries, sweet peppers, chili peppers, sweet potatoes, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, parsley, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, citrus, kiwi, & cantaloupe. Eating fresh fruits & veggies like these provide extra nutritional benefits as well.
The optimal amount of Vitamin C you need depends on several factors such as lifestyle, stress levels, diet, medications and age. This amount may be hard to obtain from your diet alone, especially if you have a poor diet or weak immune system. Amounts from 1-2 Grams daily provide optimal benefit for most.
Vitamin C is only retained in the body for about 4 hours, so overdosing is quite uncommon. That’s also why it’s best to take it in divided doses during the day, 500 mg at a time. Diarrhea can result from taking too much Vitamin C, so backing down a bit from that amount if that point is reached should be a good target amount.
The idea that vitamin C causes kidney stones has been completely disproven. Several clinical studies have shown that is not an issue with high-dose vitamin C. Some studies have found citrus juices to be helpful in preventing kidney stones.
A healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables (especially those listed above provides great protection for your immune system. Keeping Vitamin C supplements on hand provides extra protection for when you’ve been exposed to others who are sick or when you feel like you might be getting sick. Be proactive—and make sure your ‘Big Gun’ is ready!
Photo credit: www.natmedtalk.com