Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Health Journal - Vitamin C

If I could only have one supplement in my cupboard, it would be Vitamin C!  It is such an important vitamin, especially when the body is under stress.  Vitamin C is an antioxidant.  It fights bacteria, viruses, and infections.  If you are low in iron, Vitamin C will help you absorb it from your food.  It is a natural antihistamine and is necessary for stimulating the immune system.  Another great benefit of Vitamin C is that it combines with toxins (like heavy metals), so they can be eliminated from the body.

Our bodies cannot manufacture Vitamin C.  Therefore, it is important that it is ingested often.  Unfortunately, most of what we ingest will be gone from the body in 3-4 hours, especially in times of stress, when the body uses it up quickly.  This explains why Vitamin C is often called a "stress vitamin".  Since our bodies can only handle a certain amount at a time, and any extra is eliminated in the urine, it doesn't help to take large doses all at once.  During stressful times, we need to take it often, throughout the day.

Since Vitamin C is essential in the formation of collagen, and it helps to prevent infection, I will supplement with it whenever there is a wound of any kind.  It is good for the skin, ligaments, and bones.  When we get a major cut or wound at our house, I immediately start supplementing with Vitamin C at every meal.  I will do this until I can see that the wound is healing nicely and there is no redness or swelling (usually about a week).  Vitamin C speeds up the healing process!

One thing that is really nice about this vitamin is that you will know if you are getting too much.  You will get the runs! :)  If that happens, just lower your dose and keep taking it.  When my children had Whooping Cough, I gave them mega doses of Vitamin C for two weeks and not one of them had anything close to a loose stool.  When our bodies need this vitamin, we can take a lot of it!  Just a caution, if you are taking very large doses, you may need to increase your calcium, and you need to be careful that you don't get too much iron (since it helps you absorb iron better).

Some good sources of Vitamin C would be berries, citrus fruits, and green vegetables. Orange juice is a good source if it is freshly squeezed.  Cooked and pasteurized foods are not good sources since Vitamin C is lost in the heating process.  Another good source is fermented foods.  The process of fermentation actually increases the Vitamin C content in foods like kefir and yogurt,  You may remember hearing old stories of seamen dying of scurvy (a disease cause by a Vitamin C deficiency), until someone discovered that keeping crocks of sauerkraut (a fermented food) on board kept their crews from being decimated by this disease.  Another source of Vitamin C used by seamen was sprouts.

Beware of pain medications (including aspirin), alcohol, oral contraceptives, and antidepressants. They all reduce the amount of Vitamin C in the body.  Smoking causes serious depletion!

Needless to say, this is a supplement that I make sure I always have on hand.  We get our daily doses from our foods, but during times of sickness or when we have injuries, we supplement with Vitamin C.  This is definitely one for mama to keep in her "medicine chest". :)

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