I’ve heard the same news story repeated; “The verdict’s in! Doctors confirm Vitamin C doesn’t help your cold or flu symptoms!” Or, “supplemental vitamin C doesn’t improve your health.” Really?! That’s the breaking news story each cold and flu season? Seriously?
Are these docs and health professionals really against Vitamin C?
First of all, let’s all crack our biochemistry textbooks open from university again and read the tiny print written between various enzymatic and biological reactions. What we find are vitamins and minerals, plain and simple, present as catalysts for many enzymes and life-sustaining processes to function. So many reactions in the body, so many reasons we need various nutrients found in food and supplements we take.
As for Vitamin C, it’s most known for its ability as an antioxidant, role in collagen production and impact on immune cells. Most people could tell you that scurvy is the disease suffered when its levels are extremely low. But who has outright scurvy nowadays? “Not me” you’re thinking. “And anyway, I drink plenty of OJ with my ‘carb-filled breakfast-of-champions’ every morning. Who needs more Vitamin C?”
Well, let’s look more closely at your immune system. So vast and complex, your immune cells gobble up more vitamin C when it’s ‘fighting something’ (a cold or flu bug for example). When you’re adding more of these nutrients, you’re not suppressing or changing your body’s symptom response to that virus or bacteria. You’re giving it more oomph to deal with them. The article that tells you that your cold will still be 2-4 days in length, with or without the added supplements, is somewhat irrelevant. You’re giving your body what it needs to deal with an infection. You’re helping it cope, preventing the illness from setting into a longer ordeal! Will you still have a runny nose or mild fever? I hope so! How else will that virus be eliminated from and dealt with by your body?
So then, are we able to get through a cold or flu without these supplemental nutrients? Most times, yes. However, tack on day to day stress, too little sleep, little to no exercise and a diet lacking…well, just lacking, and we will usually end up with additional, unnecessary & lingering symptoms. (Added fatigue, thick unmoving congestion, a hacking cough that lingers for weeks…you get the picture.) These more extreme symptoms may be signs, pointing to possible deficiencies. You likely don’t have scurvy, but low levels of vitamin C for optimal functioning: very possible!
So, that article telling you those extra vitamins ‘won’t help’ is misleading.
It does and is helping. It might not shortcut the recovery of your already started cold to 1 day instead of 2 or 3. Your body should still produce a runny nose or mild cough over this time (even with extra C on board). However, I’d take a few cold and flu symptoms, pack back some additional nutrients through diet and supplements, and return to normal in a few days over a ‘compromised’ immune system with masked, more extreme or lingering symptoms.
To learn more about optimizing your nutrient status, call to book an appointment with Dr. Janzen (and Dr. Jasper).