VITAMIN C: Why We Include It

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By Alan Inglis, MD

Over the years, we’ve heard all sorts of reports on Vitamin C and the common cold. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) does boost the function of the immune system.  It therefore may protect against viral infections such as cold and the flu.

However, some studies support vitamin C as a a useful treatment for colds; others do not.  Many earlier studies that argued against such benefits. More recent research, mainly from Finland, questions the quality of those earlier studies and offers the clear prospect of potential benefit.

It’s important to understand that science does not always offer us black and white answers to important questions. We have to make our best estimate of what we think is true based on the available evidence. This is the case with Vitamin C.  So here’s some food for thought. 

Our bodies do not make vitamin C. We need to get it from food or supplements.  The more we get from supplements, the less our bodies absorb. At doses above 1 gram per day, or 1000 milligrams, absorption falls to less than 50%. Unabsorbed Vitamin C is passed harmlessly in the urine.

Vitamin C is an effective, primary antioxidant that protects the body’s cells against reactive oxygen species, or free radicals. Primarily through this role, this fascinating vitamin affects several components of our immune system.

For example, vitamin C has been shown to stimulate both the production and function of immune system proteins that neutralize and destroy disease causing viruses.

And here’s something I find really intriguing.  The body’s ability to absorb vitamin C actually increases during illness.  This suggests quite simply that when we are sick, we may need more vitamin C. Given all that we know, this should not be surprising.

The totality of evidence points quite clearly at the important role of Vitamin C for immune system function. In addition, the evidence also supports the possibility that Vitamin C may help combat the organisms, mainly viral, that cause colds and the flu.

We include Vitamin C in Dr. Schnuffie’s Cold and Flu Remedy as a potentially useful addition to the other powerful agents at a reasonable dose -- 500 mg per tablet, 1000 mg daily when you take two -- that helps maximize efficiency.  Also, we have chosen to use the non-acidic ascorbate form of Vitamin C -- a bit costlier than regular old ascorbic acid -- that is generally well tolerated and easy on the stomach.

Sarah W