Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) and Self Care
Vitamin C had been known to have anti viral activity since 1936. There are case studies showing VitC to have antiviral effects on the Pertussis virus (causes whooping cough), the cold virus, the Herpes virus, the Cytomegalovirus and an Influenza type virus. The Natural Killer Cells are the ‘search and destroy’ cells of the immune system. They search out viruses, bacteria and other foreign invaders, as well as altered cells such as cancer cells and after finding them, act to kill them. These cells have molecular pumps on their surfaces which concentrate VitC in order to form hydrogen peroxide amongst other things in order to carry out this activity. This is just one of the ways in which ascorbic acid acts as an immune stimulant.
Antioxidant activity of Vitamin C During an infection there is a ‘storm of free radical generation’. It is the damaging effects of free radicals on cell membranes, structural molecules such as collagen, enzymes and as such severely disrupts cellular functioning. This produces the tissues effects seen specific to the organ system in which the infection occurs. The body has its own enzyme system which neutralizes one type of free radical molecule-the superoxide molecule, is neutralized by the selenium added to a nutritional strategy in viral infections such as Hepatitis and HIV improves outcome. But the selenium-SOD system is specific to the superoxide radical and ineffective against other radical oxygen species. Vitamin C is nature’s premeir antioxidant scavenger which stops free radicall damage.
Human Beings all have a genetic disease; they lack the enzyme gulano lactate oxidase which finalizes the conversion of glucose to ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). Nearly all organisms on Earth have an enzyme system which converts glucose into the vital nutrient ascorbic acid. Humans, the higher primates, the guinea pig and the fruit bat all have genetic mutations which interferes with the cells ability to make ascorbic acid, thus making it imperative that they take in adequate amounts in their diet or as a supplement. In order to maintain cellular levels of vitamin c it is important to ‘pulse’ doses of vitamin c throught the day. Remember that all organisms, exscepting those mentioned above continuously make vitamin C from glucose in order to keep levels high. In humans a dose of vitamin C will last for about 6 hours in the blood, this is the rationale for the ‘flow through’ model of frequent dosing of this all important vitamin. In all cases in order for an effect to be seen dosage and frequency of the administration is of critical. A gram dose (1,000 mg = 1 gram) of Vitamin C has been shown to have minimal effects on the progress of the common cold and presumably would have little effect on more invasive, pathogenic viruses. A sustained intake of higher doses in the 2 to 5 gram range has been shown to have moderate effects. High levels of 10 to 70 grams may be required for effect on virulent, infections. Case studies indicate that intravenous Ascorbic Acid is effective in serious viral infections.
Pulsing Vitamin C. An easy way of obtaining optimal levels of vitamin C is to take 500 – 1,000mg doses with each meal and at bedtime. (This gives a person the 2 to 4 gram amount that would be extrapolated from ascorbic acid synthesis in other organisms.) During times of infection or other illnesses which will increase free radical stress on the organism, higher amounts of vitamin C can be utilised to increase the effectiveness of the immune system and other repair systems of the body. In these cases 2 to 5 grams (2,000 to 5,000 mg) of VitC repeated every few hours is needed to counter the amounts of free radicals which are formed in these highly oxidative states. During a 24 hour period doses of 10 to 70 grams and more may be required to be maximally effective. At these high doses a certain amount of gastric upset, excess gas and increased stools will be experienced, in most cases these are well tolerated and do not interfere in the persons ability to take the supplement. In cases where one exceeds the amount of vitamin C that the gastric-intestinal tract can absorb the excess travels to the large bowel where it induces a liquidy diarrhea. In such cases so called ‘bowel tolerance’ has been achieved. If this is the case the person would cut back by 25% and decrease the frequency of taking the vitamin. This often happens when the illness process is abating and is often a sign that tapering the vitamin can be done. Drink plenty of fluids with these high doses of vitamin C. Vitamin C is also helpful and potentiates the effects of many other therapies, especially antibiotics. How to make a Vitamin C drink. An easy, effective, economical way of taking these optimal doses of VitaminC is in taking ascorbic acid in the pure crystaline powder form: 1/4 (one quarter) teaspoon is equal to 1 gram (1,000 mg). Take 1/4 to 1 (1,000mg to 5,000mg) teaspoon depending on the concentration you want, add a small amount of warm water to disolve the powder, then add your favourite juice and dilute with water. Sip this over an hour and you should easily assimilate the ascorbic acid without gastric upset. Experiment with juices and remember to drink plenty of water afterwards. Suitable juices include orange, grapefruit, apple, pear and apricot nectars, mango, grape, cranberry and pomegranate to mention a few. Vegetable juices are a good substitute if sugar intake is a concern. Many people find ascorbic acid powder in pure water to be a suitable way of taking the vitamin.