Here’s what happens when your intake of Vitamin C is insufficient- it weakens your immune system, the body’s first defense against pathogens, making you vulnerable to infections and inflammations, and can even potentially cause conditions like scurvy and muscular degeneration. Lack of vitamin C also increases oxidative stress which happens when the rogue free radicals win over the dwindling antioxidants in the body. So you need to load up on vitamin C sources, rich in antioxidants, to scavenge free radicals that may cause cellular damage that may leads to illnesses like diabetes, premature aging of the skin, and can affect brain function too.
We do not produce vitamin C in our body and so it must be supplemented externally through whole foods or vitamin supplements. Though experts are of the opinion that, unless it is prescribed as part of a treatment for specific conditions like heart diseases, high cholesterol or exposure to toxins, among others, consuming sufficient amounts of vitamin C from its real food sources may be easier to absorb into our system than the synthetic counterparts, which are chemically identical.
This is because, the way synthetic nutrients are made differs from the way it is made by plants. There are chances the body may absorb some synthetic nutrients better than the others. Also while consuming whole foods we take it in along with a wide range of other vitamins, minerals and micronutrients and not just high doses of a single nutrient. For example, studies show that natural vitamin E is absorbed twice as efficiently as synthetic vitamin E.
It is important to remember that synthetic nutrients are not the same as whole food supplements that are made from dehydrated and concentrated whole foods and are all natural. The whole food supplements augment the nutritional value of real food sources, and make it easy to meet the daily nutritional requirement without subjecting the body to a synthetically produced nutrient.
Vitamin C: some important natural sources
a) Amla is known to possess 20 times more Vitamin C than oranges and 1 amla a day can meet the daily requirement of Vitamin C in adults. In fact, Vitamin C is retained totally in amla whether it is fresh or dried.
Apart from this, amla has a laxative, diuretic effect, it cleanses and detoxifies the system and rejuvenates it, helping you fight off infections at the same time. Regular intake of amla also helps with hyperacidity, cholesterol and heart health by helping with keeping arteries from getting hardened. It is also known to have a chemical that saves Vitamin C from getting destroyed, even when dried.
b) Giloy (Tinospora Cordifolia), also called Amruth, is yet another herb rich in vitamin C, along with iron, potassium, fiber, calcium and protein. Known as the root of immortality, phytochemicals like tinosporine, tinocordiside, cordifolioside-A and syringin are known for their immunomodulatory property, that supports the body’s innate immune system. Apart from building immunity, the giloy herb is commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine for helping with inflammations, arthritis, jaundice, diabetes, excessive mucus secretion, among others.
c) Chyawanprash is an ancient dietary Ayurvedic formulation and a concentrated blend of over 50 powerful herbs and mineral extracts that has been in use for boosting immunity and increasing life energy (prana) since ages. This sweet-sour tasting jam-like supplement comes loaded in Vitamin C, carotene, calcium, phosphorus, iron and Vitamin C complex.
Chyawanprash is a house of benefits. You need it for brain and heart health. It is very commonly used to keep flu, cough and cold at bay. It helps detoxify the blood and digestive system, helps you maintain a healthy weight, a healthy cholesterol level, helps regulate menstrual flow, reduces skin aging, and helps relieve stress. It also helps balance all the three doshas in Ayurveda.
In fact, research shows, Chyawanprash helps with diabetes and cholesterol levels much better than vitamin C synthetic supplements.
Also keeping in mind the fact that we are headed for a deadly winter, when viral infections, flu and incidences of common cold tend to rise, we need these herbs and ayurvedic whole food supplements in our diet to build stronger immunity.
- Produces inferons
Vitamin C in our body boosts the function of interferons that are produced when a pathogen comes in contact with our body. This helps kick off protective defense on a cellular level. Because of its gene regulating properties, Vitamin C helps production of natural killer cells, microphages and T-lymphocytes in the body, which are a key component of body’s complex immune response. It also supports the phagocytic function. Phagocytes are white blood cells that capture and neutralize pathogens and foreign bodies entering the physiology. Vitamin C also supports production and activation of good antibodies that are highly needed, particularly in the fight against novel viral strains.
- For treating respiratory and other infections
You need Vitamin C to prevent and help with respiratory infections, a common symptom in most COVID-19 cases. You also need vitamin C to increase plasma level in the body, needed for optimum cellular function.
Supplementation with vitamin C appears to be able to both prevent and help with respiratory and systemic infections. Prophylactic prevention of infection requires dietary vitamin C intakes that provide at least adequate, if not saturating plasma levels (i.e., 100–200 mg/day), which optimize cell and tissue levels. In contrast, treatment of established infections requires significantly higher (gram) doses of the vitamin to compensate for the increased inflammatory response and metabolic demand.
The role of vitamin C in lymphocytes is less clear, but it has been shown to enhance differentiation and proliferation of B- and T-cells, likely due to its gene regulating effects.
- Supports production of cytokines
Vitamin C is needed to improve cytokine production in white blood cells. Cytokines are a type of protein compounds released by WBCs that promote immune response.
Histamine is an antibody released when your body comes in contact with an allergen, a substance that you are allergic to. But elevated histamine levels for too long can be a cause of worry. Elevated histamine levels may show up as various symptoms including puffy red eyes, swelling, rashes, coughing or wheezing, among others. And some people also develop histamine intolerance, that is, the body is unable to adequately use the histamine release in the body. Vitamin C also keeps histamine levels regulated. This helps manage allergic symptoms. This way Vitamin C supports local immunity.
- Oxidative stress
Oxidative stress is caused when rogue free radicals outnumber antioxidants that could balance the free radicals. Free radicals are basically imbalanced molecules with uneven electrons, and antioxidants maintain this electron balance by donating electrons to these free radicals. According to scientists, hospitals have already begun to revise the daily need of patients for drugs, and reduced courses of antibiotics are gradually becoming more popular. These free radicals can cause cellular damage, trigger premature aging, affect brain function, and cause host of other conditions like high blood sugar, hardening of blood vessels, degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, high blood pressure and heart diseases. Vitamin C helps you load up on antioxidants to help fight off these types of conditions.
And here’s the clincher. Even in those who have been vaccinated, vitamin C improves and supports the vaccine’s immune response.
Published by Ruchira Roy
This content on the Sri Sri Tattva blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Any links to third party websites is provided as a convenience only and the Sri Sri Tattva Blog is not responsible for their content.