Vitamin C is believed to do wonders in maintaining optimal health. Find out why this vitamin may even help your allergies
Vitamin C is believed to do wonders in improving the immune system and keeping colds and flus at bay. Fortunately we are past cold and flu season, but unfortunately we are in the midst of spring allergy season. Trees and shrubs and gardens are blooming and pollen is in the air! It’s a beautiful time of year, but not so much if you suffer from seasonal allergies. Building a strong immune system is one of the best defenses against seasonal allergies, and can be done by picking up a few things at your local market packed with this potent antioxidant.
Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is water soluble, therefore easily excreted from the body when consumed in excess. It’s critical for the metabolism of living creatures; surprisingly almost all mammals use their own cells to make it, except for humans, guinea pigs, gorillas, bats, chimps, and birds, who need to eat foods with this essential vitamin.
Vitamin C is believed to aid us during a cold primarily because it is necessary inside our white blood cells, who's function it is to “devour” invaders (phagocytosis). Research suggests that supplementing with vitamin C may help to enhance the white blood cell activity and mobilization. When our bodies are functioning optimally, white blood cells contain high concentrations of vitamin C, during infection these levels decrease, and then return to normal after recovery. High doses of vitamin C are able to restore levels to normal during an infection. In relation to allergies, vitamin C is reported to reduce blood histamine levels, an “antihistamine” effect, which may help to alleviate symptoms of seasonal allergies. Histamines are released in the body in response to allergic invaders and contribute to the inflammatory response and constriction of smooth muscle (as in asthma); therefore natural “antihistamines” would help to reduce this response.
The protective role of vitamin C is vast, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, joint diseases and cataracts are all associated with low levels of vitamin C intake. Vitamin C achieves much of its protective effect by functioning as an antioxidant, mopping up free radicals. Structures that contain fat are also particularly dependent on vitamin C for protection.
Head to the produce aisle for vitamin C rich foods! The richest sources of vitamin C are sweet peppers, black currants, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale and turnip greens. Vitamin C is heat sensitive so the longer you cook veggies, the more the vitamin decreases; raw vegetables contain the most. The faster the cooking method the better! Other prime sources for vitamin C include papayas and mangoes, pineapple, strawberries, citrus fruits, kiwi, cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon. Other vegetables high in vitamin C are okra, squash, cabbage, dark leafy greens, cauliflower, peas, sweet potatoes, and asparagus.