3 Ways Vitamin C Changed My Life for the Better

( - While many of us experienced that taking vitamin C clearly made our colds and coughs better, researchers kept insisting they could find no correlation between vitamin C supplements and the reduction of colds and allergies. Current research shows that vitamin C has powerful antioxidant properties, but only few studies support the claim that taking vitamin C supplements reduces the frequency and severity of colds or hay fever symptoms.

Why doesn’t the science add up to our observations? The great vitamin C guru Linus Pauling points out most research trials involve dosages which are too low to significantly affect the immune system during illness. He recommends taking at least 1000 milligrams per day to boost your immune system when you’re sick. (Note: Pauling does cite a few studies showing that even in small doses vitamin C can reduce both the frequency and duration of a cold and the severity of symptoms.)

It’s All About Prevention

Although taking vitamin C when you’re ill can help you get better, its disease-preventing powers are many times stronger. I’d learned from my own experience that once a cold is allowed to gather steam, it takes a lot of vitamin C supplements to have any effect. Ideally you take vitamin C to stop a budding cold or allergic reaction, but not to reverse one that’s already fully taken hold.

But I learned the hard way:

1. Vitamin C— The Kibosh to My Colds

Back-to-Back Colds, All Winter Long

I probably was born more prone to colds and flus than the average person. Why? Because in the winter Mom didn’t get as much vitamin D from the sun when she was pregnant with me, which weakened my immune system. Being born in December made it worse since the lack of exposure to summer allergens in the few months after birth lowers a baby’s resistance. As if these weren’t enough, scientists now tell us that babies born in the winter may have lower immunity and higher incidence of respiratory illness, allergies, and infections. I was pretty much set up for lifelong hassles with colds and seasonal allergies.

Looking back, now I see the colds and hay fever always went together. Now I understand why — the hay fever weakened my immune system and reduced my vitamin C levels, which left me vulnerable to pick up whatever was going around at school. One study showed that hay fever actually reduces the blood levels of vitamin C, which then need to be replaced and fortified.

When I became a stay-at-home mom I skirted a lot of infections but I would always dread shopping trips, knowing that contact with public germs meant the next day would be spent buried in tissues and feeling surly.

Adelle Davis to the Rescue

Adelle Davis’s wonderful book, Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit, changed my life. It’s still a classic of alternative medicine. Up until then I was dissatisfied with over-the-counter medications and not finding any real solutions from my doctor. In her book, Adelle advised taking 250 milligrams of vitamin C every hour when you’ve been exposed to a cold virus or are feeling the onset of a cold.

I started doing this and found that I could dramatically reduce the symptoms and duration of a cold. As soon as I sneezed I would take a vitamin C. If I kept sneezing I would take another every hour. At most, the symptoms would end after eight hours. I began taking vitamin C supplements each day, even out of cold season. As I grew stronger, colds just didn’t seem to stick anymore.

I did this for my children too and it was extremely rare for them to get colds. If they did, they were short-lived.

2. Vitamin C and the End of Allergy Season as I Knew It

Dust, Pollen, Leaf Mold, Cats, and Wool . . . Are Now My Friends

My cold problem was finally over, but what about my allergies? I remember one embarassing incident of my darker bad allergy days. We had a guest, and I was trying to explain to him, between weeping and sneezing, that this wasn’t a cold but an allergic reaction— to what I couldn’t yet say.

I since figured out that it was because I’d pulled a beloved wool sweater from storage and put it on, oblivious to the fact that dust mites had set up colonies within its folds and their shed husks were now wafting into my respiratory system.

Back to Adelle. It was a no-brainer: Exactly the same regimen prescribed for fighting colds worked for my allergies. I got in the habit of keeping vitamin C readily available in my kitchen and purse. I still do, happily offering tablets to anyone who sneezes or starts feeling flu-ish.

3. Vitamin C: A Source of Hope for My Future Health

It’s not Just About Preventing Sniffles

One thing Adelle Davis points out is that her program of whole natural foods and vitamin therapy aided her clients in other ways, not just what the vitamins were prescribed for. For example, those who took calcium for insomnia found their teeth had grown stronger, and those who took vitamin E and A to fight cancer found it also helped improve their eczema. And on it goes.

Vitamin C is no exception —  research is finding a lot of correlations between vitamin C consumption and reduced risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease, cataracts, high blood pressure, and Alzheimer’s.

I hope my experiences convince you to take vitamin C everyday. A daily vitamin C supplement can save you from seasonal allergies and strengthen your immune system. If you start feeling a cold coming on, take one every hour! Share these valuable insights with your friends and family too — let’s all stay healthy with vitamin C.

Written by Wanda Waterman
Once described as a "creative monster," I'm a blogger, cultural journalist, digital nomad, poet, screenwriter, fiction writer, spoken word artist, and graphic novelist. I grew up in Nova Scotia but now call Montreal home.
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