Essential 7

Essential 7
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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Oh Say, Can You "C"?...Vitamin C, That is!

We often think of "C" as an average rating, so vitamin C may seem sort of average to you on the nutritional scale. I am here to change that conception, and to give vitamin C a big "A" on the grading scale. You "C", without vitamin C, we would not be able to effectively walk around. 

A severe lack of vitamin C produces a disease called scurvy. The symptoms of this disease are not mild. What begins as fatigue and general malaise, soon turns to sore and bleeding gums, pain in the joints caused by internal bleeding, and extreme shortness of breath. It's not a pretty picture.

Sailors, or passengers who took long journeys by sea, often contracted scurvy. Before refrigeration, ships' galleys contained only salted meats and biscuits - no fresh fruits or vegetables. Months on this diet produced a severe vitamin C deficiency. Therefore, many sailors started bringing potted citrus trees aboard ship to sustain them on long voyages.

Today most people get some vitamin C in their diets, so scurvy is not the issue. The problem today deals with lack of adequate amounts of vitamin C. Think about the average fast food menu. How many fruits or vegetables are listed? Now consider the prepared foods in today's supermarkets? Again, there are not many ingredients rich in vitamin C.

In addition to poor diet, today's population is also immersed in carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) and free-radicals (chemicals that tax the immune system).  This depletes our bodies' stores of vitamin C, leaving us at a deficit that we cannot seem to overcome. The truth is, we can overcome it, but it requires daily supplementation above and beyond the "recommended daily allowance".

Can you overdose on vitamin C?

 I have heard reports of kidney problems, including kidney stones, due to "overdosing" on vitamin C. This may be true, if the high dosage was taken  long-term. The problem with that logic stems from the method in which our bodies react to high-dose vitamin C

You may have heard it said that vitamin C will not be absorbed beyond what your body needs at that moment. For example, taking 2,000 mg. of vitamin C at 9:00 am will only benefit you if your body is 2,000 mg. low on vitamin C at 9:00 am. If you only need 1,500 mg., your body absorbs the 1,500 mg. and flushes the remainder out of the body. A small excess being flushed from your body will likely go unnoticed. However, a large excess will cause diarrhea. So if you were to take that same 2,000 mg. dosage at 9:00 am, and your body didn't need much vitamin C at all at that time (maybe only 100 mg.), you would be running for the bathroom an hour later with an "issue". 

The threshold at which the body cannot absorb anymore vitamin C is called "bowel tolerance". If you regularly exceed your body's vitamin C needs, your bowels will tell you! For that reason, I find it difficult to imagine a long-term overdose situation. After all, who wants to have diarrhea every day?

So what is the right amount of daily vitamin C? The answer to that question is specific to each person's situation. It depends on the severity of your current deficiency and the amount of vitamin C you are getting from your diet.
Start with a supplement of 1,000 mg. twice a day. This gives you a healthy boost in the morning, and again later in the day. Remember, your body will flush what it cannot immediately use, so splitting the dosage gives you the greatest benefit. Senior citizens should take 2,000 mg. twice a day, unless their bowels tell them otherwise! As we age, our immune systems get weaker. Vitamin C is wonderful for immune support.

Our immune systems are like armies, standing ready to defend our bodies against invaders, such as viruses and other pathogens. Every strong nation feeds its army well, in order to equip them for battle. This is the mindset we need when we plan our diets and our dietary supplementation. We are equipping our immune system army to properly defend us against the enemy. 

You have probably seen the cold remedies that tout their "key" ingredient: vitamin C. It's true, that taking vitamin C at the onset of a cold or flu will assist your body in its defense. But isn't that like giving your army a good meal to gobble up as the enemy is already attacking? Picture the soldiers wielding a weapon in one hand, while hurrying to finish a turkey leg in the other. Talk about multi-tasking! Wouldn't it be easier to feed those soldiers plenty of good nutrition daily, so they are fortified and ready when the enemy approaches? 

It is the same with our bodies. Daily fortification is required to keep them strong. Taking a daily dose (or two) of vitamin C is just good common sense.

A popular term in the health arena is "antioxidant". Many juices and tonics claim their fame from a high concentration of antioxidants. This fancy term, antioxidant, simply means that the substance prevents or reverses the damage from oxidation inside the body. Oxidation of metal is called rust. Oxidation within the human body is the cellular equivalent. It speeds up the aging process and leaves the body in a weakened state. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. Think of it as a rust inhibitor for your body.

Daily maintenance is so important if we want to live healthy lives. Most people need at least 1,000 mg. of vitamin C twice a day to maintain good health and vitality. But there is another level to the benefits of vitamin C.
Vitamin C, in high doses, can control pain. Many arthritis sufferers experienced significant relief when given high doses (4,000 - 6,000 mg. per day, in divided doses) of vitamin C. The doses usually need to be divided into 4 times per day, in order to maintain bowel tolerance. An interesting side note here: Daily supplementation with vitamin C during your younger years will likely prevent the onset of arthritis when you are older. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Believe it or not, there is even a benefit level beyond pain relief! Vitamin C has been known to cure cancer, pneumonia and even polio. Yes, that's right...polio! A doctor by the name of Klenner cured many polio patients in the 1940s and 50s by using high dose vitamin C, administered via IV. Intravenous therapy places the vitamin C directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive tract. This allows for extremely high mega-doses to be used, without the threat of bowel intolerance. Many polio and pneumonia patients were cured by Dr. Klenner. Sadly, the medical community buried his research findings and even removed his hospital privileges. A polio vaccine was in the works, and Big Pharma wanted that to be mainstream medicine; not a simple, inexpensive treatment like vitamin C. (Read more about Dr. Klenner and his vitamin C research here.) 

There are holistic doctors today who sanction and utilize mega-dose vitamin C treatments to cure cancer and deadly infections. If you can find a willing physician, don't expect your insurance company to cover the procedure. In spite of the social stigma, I would still rather pay out-of-pocket for a natural cure than have my insurance company pick up the tab for a toxic treatment like chemotherapy!

As you can "C", there are so many reasons to build vitamin C into your daily regimen. It can be used safely, and without fear of overdose, for all age groups. It can even be used to treat pets. For more information about pets and vitamin C, please check out my Kindle book entitled 

Vitamin C Therapy for Dogs and Cats: Orange You Curious?

"C" you later!