The cold and flu season is here again, along with the newest marketing tools promoting the latest potions and remedies. Most of which are the same old stuff with new packages. Everything from sodas to candy have been fortified with vitamin C, so it would be rare to find a deficiency in the U.S. Vitamin C has been in the headlines for years, though research has yet to find any significant evidence linking it to the prevention or duration of a cold. Vitamin C does however, come to the rescue to deactivate histamine, which is the immune response that causes nasal congestion. Therefore, vitamin C can be considered an anti-histamine, creating the illusion of a cure. Vitamin C works as an antioxidant only in combination with other vitamins; it "recharges" vitamin E and other true antioxidants, and acts as a co-factor with certain B-vitamins to boost the immune system. By itself, it has no antioxidant properties.
The history of vitamin C: 250 years ago, the crew of any sea-going ship had only a 50% chance of returning alive; not because of storms or pirates at sea, but because of the dreaded disease scurvy. No one knew the reason, until James Lind, a British physician discovered the link between the ships food supply and the disease. In long journeys, the fresh produce was used up quickly, and the men were forced to live on meat and cereal until returning to port. Those afflicted sailors receiving citrus fruits recovered completely. The unfortunate souls who did not eat the fruits did not survive. As a result, the British Navy later required all vessels to provide every sailor with lime juice daily, which lead to the nickname "limeys."
Vitamin C helps to form collagen, a fibrous structural protein of connective tissues, artery walls, and the matrix on which bones and teeth are formed. This process is also used in healing wounds and broken bones.
Vitamin C also acts as a "carrier" for transporting iron and calcium from the gut to the blood.
Vitamin C participates in the conversion of the amino acid tryptophan into serotonin and norepinephrine. It also assists in the making of hormones that regulate the metabolism.
How much does one really need? Few instances warrant consuming more than 200mg. per day. Vitamin C can act as an "oxidant" when doses exceed actual need. Large doses can show "false positive" or "false negative" results in various urine tests to detect diseases such as diabetes. Those with kidney disorders and gout run the risk of kidney stones from excessive doses of vitamin C. Supplementation is usually prescribed to treat illnesses resulting from deficiencies or serious injuries and stress such as severe burns and infections, radiation therapy, multiple injuries, and skin breakdown.
Fruits and vegetables provide an abundance of vitamin C. A single serving of broccoli, bell pepper, or strawberries provides more than 50 mg. Vitamin C is not limited to citrus fruits; Kiwi and spinach also provide an abundance of vitamin C, as well as many other foods. And food sources are the best way to obtain vitamin C, since they contain the complimentary nutrients and enzymes needed to metabolize vitamins.