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The Benefits of Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is an essential nutrient and antioxidant that is important for tissue repair and enzyme function. It is considered essential because our bodies don’t manufacture it, and it is water soluble, so you need to replenish this vitamin every day. The recommended daily amount of vitamin C for women is 75 mg and 90 mg for men, while some studies showed that more benefits are recognized at higher amounts.

Unfortunately, vitamin C can be destroyed by high temperatures and other forms of food processing. Boiling and steaming food can cause up to a 34% loss of C while pressure cooking creates a loss of around 10%. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the best way to take advantage of all nutrients including vitamin C, but if you aren’t able to keep up with the recommended 5 – 9 servings a day, supplementation might be an option.

The functions of vitamin C are extensive, making it a widely researched nutrient with more benefits still being discovered today. It turns out that patients with health issues often have low levels of this nutrient, while those with health concerns have an increased need for antioxidants like ascorbic acid.

Environmental and lifestyle factors like smoking, stress or high amounts of air pollution also increase the need for vitamin C. And because it is an essential nutrient that our bodies rely on, the benefits are numerous including immune support, brain health protection and wrinkle prevention.

Immune Support

Immune support is by far the most common reason why people supplement with vitamin C. That’s because this nutrient is associated with many areas of immunity, helps protect cells and may even shorten wound healing time.

As an antioxidant vitamin C becomes part of the skin’s defense system, which is our outer layer of protection and often our first line of defense. Antioxidants protect us from free radicals that are linked to a host of health issues, and it just so happens that vitamin C is a type of antioxidant called carotenoids. And because it protects the integrity of cells, it is the perfect nutrient to support immune health.

Brain Health

It turns out that vitamin C is an important antioxidant that is vital for healthy brain function. (1) Our brains use a lot of oxygen, which makes them more prone to oxidative stress than other organs; it’s no wonder the brain has higher concentrations of vitamin C. In fact, some studies have found higher levels of C in those with healthy cognitive function but lower levels in those with impaired function. (2) It may be because as an antioxidant, vitamin C helps protect the brain from oxidative stress that can impact cognitive performance.

A Powerful Antioxidant

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects out entire body, inside and out, from free radical damage. It helps the body manufacture collagen, which keeps our skin, eyes, and blood vessels strong. It helps prevent damage that can lead to a host of health conditions associated with oxidative stress and can even help your body regenerate vitamin E supplies. This may be the reason why it has been associated with lower blood pressure and considered a heart healthy nutrient.

Anti-Aging

Some researchers have gone so far as to call C the anti-aging vitamin. That’s because it is involved with collagen synthesis; the protein that keeps our skin from sagging. Collagen is not only necessary for firm skin, but also plays a role in skin repair and helps maintain the integrity of ligaments and tendons. It also gives our blood vessels flexibility which becomes more important as we age.

Signs of aging include wrinkles and deterioration of our eyes and overall health. Many aging experts claim that free radicals accelerate the aging process, while superior nutrition seems to slow it down. Antioxidants like vitamin C help ward off the signs of aging as it combats free radical damage. Consuming a diet high in foods that are abundant with this nutrient can help you fight the signs of aging, while supplementing with vitamin C can fill in any nutritional gaps.

Stress Management

Nutrition plays a role in not only physical health, but our mental health, as well. Our bodies need a supply of vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients to function at full capacity. And our brains rely on nutrients and antioxidants like vitamin C to function at its best. But vitamin C is also necessary for the balance of healthy brain chemicals that our bodies naturally produce.

When under stress, our bodies become depleted of nutrients. In fact, stress can impair the digestive system, leading to a lessened ability to break down and extract nutrients from foods we eat. This can create a cycle of stress and malnutrition as each condition worsens the other. To make matters worse, low levels of vitamin C have been linked to negative moods like sadness and anxiety.

This may be why researchers have found that vitamin C should be considered a part of stress management protocols. It seems to suppress stress while some studies showed that those who consume higher amounts of antioxidants like vitamin C report feeling calmer and less anxious.

Conclusion

Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons are known to be high in vitamin C, but you can also add strawberries, raspberries, cantaloupe, and red peppers to the list of foods rich in C. Since most foods contain far less than the RDA of this nutrient, aim for 7 – 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. And if you believe you need more, supplements are well tolerated and found to be useful when it comes to keeping your blood levels of vitamin C in a healthy range. And with all the benefits, you don’t want to miss your daily dose of this important nutrient.

References:

1 Harrison FE, May JM. Vitamin C function in the brain: vital role of the ascorbate transporter SVCT2. Free Radic Biol Med. 2009;46(6):719‐730. doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2008.12.018

2 Travica N, Ried K, Sali A, Scholey A, Hudson I, Pipingas A. Vitamin C Status and Cognitive Function: A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2017;9(9):960. Published 2017 Aug 30. doi:10.3390/nu9090960

Cindy Papp

Author

Body Cleanse and Detoxification Specialist with over 22 years experience; BSc in Holistic Nutrition, C.C.T. Colon Hydrotherapist, Cert. Holistic Health Practitioner, Spiritual Guide, Energy Work, Reiki, Author, Holistic Health Researcher

For more information on Cindy visit https://www.springclean-cleanse.com/ 

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Zinc and Why it is Important for Health

Why zinc? Our bodies have a line of defense against bacteria, virus and other pathogens known as the immune system. Having immunity against microorganisms that can harm us depends upon whether our lifestyles support health or work against us. When in a weakened state, we become more susceptible to microorganisms that can make us sick.

But, just like any other bodily system, the immune system can be supported with a healthy lifestyle and superior nutrition, allowing it to function at its best. And when we fall short, zinc may be one way to help support the immune system.

What is Zinc?

Zinc is a nutrient that the body needs to function properly and is classified as an essential mineral or essential trace element. This means it is essential we get this particular mineral from our diet, through nutritious food sources. And while many foods are touted for their nutritional content, it pays to be choosey because highly processed, fried foods and foods cooked at high temperatures may naturally lose their mineral content.

Zinc in Your Diet

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of zinc is 8 mg for adult females and 11 mg for adult males, with certain groups such as pregnant women, requiring slightly more. Luckily you can get zinc from a variety of food sources including:

  • Oysters
  • Red meat
  • Poultry
  • Shellfish
  • Beans
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Fortified bread

Oysters come in at the highest amount of zinc with 74 mg per serving. The next highest is beef chuck roast at 7 mg per serving, with all the other foods being significantly less. The trick to zinc intake is to get a steady amount into your daily diet; a task that proves to be more difficult than it seems.

Most people do not consume oysters on a daily basis, while others may be vegetarians or vegans, making it a little more challenging to get the RDA of this all-important mineral. At the same time, foods such as fortified cereals or breads contain synthetic zinc, yet not all of these are digestible. For example, zinc oxide comes back with mixed study results, while other forms like zinc gluconate are merely a chemical substitute for the true mineral. But plant-based forms of zinc may be the most absorbable as it is in a more natural state.

Zinc and Your Body

Zinc plays many roles in our health and is found in every cell of the body. It is required for healthy digestion and metabolism, nerve function, skin health and even protein production. It plays a role in cell growth and division and most importantly for many people today, it supports immune function.

The role that zinc plays in immunity is one reason why many throat lozenges and over-the-counter cold remedies contain this important element. While many studies have been done, a 1998 review of these suggested that zinc was indeed helpful for reducing the severity and duration of cold symptoms.

Chronic internal inflammation is a problem for many people with busy lifestyles, and results from risk factors like stress, poor diet, certain medications and sedentary lifestyles. Surprisingly, older adults who used zinc supplements were able to reduce inflammatory markers, one of the only ways to measure the risk of chronic inflammation. (1) This may be why zinc also seems to be an effective mineral to support immune health since inflammation has an effect on immunity.

Zinc Deficiency

Some people are deficient in zinc because either their diet does not include zinc rich foods or digestive issues inhibit absorption of the mineral. Pregnant women, older adults and women who are breastfeeding are at the highest risk of zinc deficiency. And for those who breastfeed, a zinc deficiency may pass to the nursing infant.

Some researchers find that zinc deficiency is prevalent in populations of low animal protein consumption and increased cereal consumption. (2) Vegans and vegetarians have lower levels of zinc because their diets lack meat and fish. But adding to the problem is that while they may eat more mineral-rich beans than non-vegetarians, phytates in beans, legumes, nuts and seeds can impair digestion and make it difficult to absorb the small amounts of zinc that they do consume. Soaking these foods before consuming them may help lessen this problem.

Others who may be at risk for zinc deficiency include those with Chrohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and alcohol addiction because they may not sufficiently absorb zinc from their diet. Also, at risk are those with pancreatic disease, celiac disease, diabetes or chronic liver disease. Signs of zinc deficiency includes the following:

  • Hair loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Poor immunity
  • Eye and skin lesions
  • Slow wound healing

Zinc Supplements

Many people use zinc supplements to enhance their diets, especially if they have one of the above risk factors such as digestive problems. Supplementation is also popular during cold and flu season as a natural way to support the immune system. But be wary of zinc in many over-the-counter throat lozenges or syrups as it may be a form that is difficult for the body to use.

For best absorption, zinc supplements are most effective when taken within two hours after a meal and in liquid form. And if you are using it to ward of a cold or flu, enhanced supplements that include a plant-based form of zinc along with vitamin C and herbs like elderberry may offer additional immune support.

Conclusion

In today’s world of uncertainty, stress becomes the norm, wreaking havoc on digestion and our immune systems, while superbugs seem to be more prominent. Doing all you can to support your body can help you stay strong and better protect you from harmful pathogens. Support your health with a wholesome diet, daily exercise, rest and supplementation when you need to ensure you stay healthy through any season.

References:

1 Bao B, Prasad AS, Beck FW, et al. Zinc decreases C-reactive protein, lipid peroxidation, and inflammatory cytokines in elderly subjects: a potential implication of zinc as an atheroprotective agent. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91(6):1634–1641. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.28836

2 Roohani N, Hurrell R, Kelishadi R, Schulin R. Zinc and its importance for human health: An integrative review. J Res Med Sci. 2013;18(2):144–157.

Cindy Papp

Author

Body Cleanse and Detoxification Specialist with over 22 years experience; BSc in Holistic Nutrition, C.C.T. Colon Hydrotherapist, Cert. Holistic Health Practitioner, Spiritual Guide, Energy Work, Reiki, Author, Holistic Health Researcher

For more information on Cindy visit https://www.springclean-cleanse.com/ 

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Boosting Your Immune System

The immune system is a vast network of cells, proteins, organs and vessels situated throughout your body to protect you from pathogens and organisms compromise the immune system. Each part of this system works with the others to act as barriers, such as specialized cells that can neutralize toxins, cells that activate proteins to kill bacteria or even some that tag a toxin for destruction by a killer cell, or T Cell.

Sometimes the immune system becomes compromised due to autoimmune disorders, genetic abnormalities or even stress. For this reason, it is important to take care of ourselves with a wholesome diet and exercise, both of which naturally support a healthy immune system. During times of stress, we can add more support with extra nutrition like vitamin C, zinc or herbs like elderberry. And the more support we give, the better is can function.

Your Two Immune Systems

The immune system is divided into two main types of immune responses; the innate immune response (or system), and the adaptive immune response (or system). Ideally, both of these systems work together to protect your body and keep you healthy.

  • The innate immune system consists of nonspecific defense mechanisms that jump into play when antigens invade your body. Sometimes known as barriers to disease, certain parts of this immune system include skin, blood chemicals and cells that are specific to the immune system. These are responsible for limiting the spread of bacteria, viruses, parasites and other antigens as they travel through your body. We are born with this natural immunity and it is the first line of defense.
  • The adaptive immune system is another response system that defends you against pathogens. As the name implies, it is adaptive. When certain bacteria or other antigens invade, it can create more immunity to the specific invader and ensure its destruction if infected again.

This immune system consists of specialized cells and processes that can neutralize, eliminate or prevent the growth of antigens that can harm your health. It is also known as the acquired immune system because it adapts to changes in the environment to protect your body from future challenges. This helps defend you against recurrent weakened immune states, leading to long-lasting and stronger defense.

What Inhibits Immunity

Stress can have an impact and weaken our immunity in a couple of ways. It may lead to unhealthy coping strategies, like poor food choices and drinking alcohol, which can leave us more susceptible to sickness. It can also increase stress hormones like cortisol, which also may contribute to suppressing the immune system. Stress can also contribute to internal inflammation and other changes in the body, which also suppress the immune system.

Poor diet can also affect the immune system. Consuming too much processed meat, saturated fats and sugar all play a roll in how well we respond to pathogens that can lead to illness. Too much of the above foods can lead to a state of internal inflammation, which is linked to several health issues. In addition, certain substances in excess, like sugar or unhealthy fats, may also suppress the immune system. At the same time, these types of foods do not contribute nutrients that support health.

Medications like TNF inhibitors and corticosteroids may increase the chance of contracting a fungal infection as they suppress the immune system. These should be used only under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional.

Alcohol has a direct impact on the microbiome of your digestive tract and disrupting it can lead to digestive issues. In fact, alcohol consumption can disrupt the barrier and allow excess bacteria to cross into your bloodstream, leaving you more susceptible to illness. Avoiding excess alcohol is key during times of heightened immune stress to ensure your body is able to protect itself from outside attack.

How to Boost Your Immune System, Naturally

Direct evidence or research about how to naturally boost the immune system is difficult to find. This is because the immune system is just that; a system that includes a lot of parts from many types of cells and organs. To understand how any component would affect the immune system would require a study of how the component works with each cell and organ of the immune system as well as the lymph vessels that are also part of this vast system. Because of this, any approach to strengthening the immune system should be a holistic one to ensure your entire being is healthy.

Sleep

Getting a proper night’s sleep allows your body to rejuvenate and restore all of your bodily systems, including the immune system. Not getting enough sleep may suppress your immunity and leave you more susceptible. A sufficient night’s rest is imperative so your body can make the proteins your body needs to fight invaders, heal and restore full function to any areas that may be weakened.

Daily Hygiene

Protecting your health is just as important as boosting your immunity. Seemingly little things like washing your hands with soap and water throughout the day, or avoiding close contact with those who may be ill play big roles in keeping you healthy. And if you do have to work in close quarters with others, wash your hands more frequently and wipe down keyboards or other workplace machinery you share with others.

Healthy Diet

There are no particular foods that are linked to boosting immunity, but we do know [studies show] that certain vitamins do help by supporting your immune system. Vitamin C, for example, is widely acknowledge as a potent antioxidant that may contribute to immune defense support. We do know that deficiencies are linked to an increased susceptibility immune compromise, so getting your daily dose is important. (2)

Avoid junk foods like the plague, for these can use up your storage of nutrients as your body attempts to digest these highly processed foods. This means your body is left depleted and more susceptible to illness or infections.

The best diet to support your immune system should include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh produce provides an abundance of phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals that help support your body and maintain a healthy immune system. We know that vitamins and minerals are catalysts that can help our bodies stay strong, but phytonutrients also help as they can aid in the creation of healthy cells to replace sick or damaged ones.

Exercise

Exercise aids in overall health by keeping your body weight in control and ensuring your muscles remain strong. But it also helps by increasing circulation and oxygen supply to the blood stream. This means your body is more able to carry out waste, that can weaken the body. At the same time, better circulation increases the ability to move oxygen and nutrients to all areas of your body, including the organs that are involved with a healthy immune system.

Stress Management

Stress is known to wreak havoc on the body in a number of ways, including curbing immunity. Using techniques like yoga or biofeedback can help get stress under control. Taking care of your body with healthy food, proper rest and exercise also help lower stress levels, so you remain stronger to tackle the daily battle of the germs.

Supplement Your Nutrition

As lifestyles have become increasingly busy, many people don’t find time to eat a healthy diet the way they’d like to. In this case, certain supplements might help fill the nutritional gap. Here are just some that might help.

Zinc

Zinc is a mineral that is found naturally throughout the body. It can also be found in many foods such as oysters, crab, some poultry and red meats and certain dairy products. Some people have a difficult time getting enough zinc, including vegetarians, those with digestive issues and those who consume too much alcohol.

A deficiency of this mineral is known to slow growth in adolescents or can lead to hair loss or wound healing issues. At the same time, there are some studies that show it may reduce symptoms of the common cold if taken in an appropriate amount of time. For this reason, many home remedies include zinc supplementation.

Elderberry

Elderberries are a fruit from the Sambucus tree and have long been used by native people as a remedy for sickness. Believed to fight colds and flus, it has been used in juices and tinctures, along with other herbs or vitamins, and as a home remedy to support one’s health during times of stress.

Some small studies show that lozenges containing elderberry seemed to help improve the bodies responses to cellular attack. (3) Elderberries do contain nutrients like vitamins C, A and even potassium and folate and so contribute to overall health.

Supplements like elderberry contain natural substances called flavonoids. These substances play a role in reducing inflammation and the supporting the immune system. Some people believe they help with other types of immune attacks as well. Most companies boost this herb with zinc and vitamin C to provide all around protection and immune support. And supplementing with herbs and nutrients can fill in the nutrition gap for people on the go or those who have less than adequate diets.

Vitamin C

While easy to consume vitamin C through certain fruits, it is also easy to miss if you are too busy. At the same time, stress can deplete our nutrient preserve, so taking supplements may be a way to support our health during times of heightened immune distress.

For this reason, many people take a vitamin C supplement to ensure they get what they need. Some studies do show that having adequate levels of this vitamin can help optimize cell function and play a role in supporting the immune system. Along with helping you stay healthy, this vitamin can promote healthy skin and protect your cells from oxidative stress.

Conclusion

Boosting your immune system requires a holistic approach that anyone can easily incorporate into their lifestyles. Being proactive in your health can help you avoid the downtime and may even help you avoid the emergency room.

Daily practices like a healthy diet, proper rest, and exercise all work together to ensure you remain healthy and do your best to support your immune system. And when life gets stressed or too busy, using supplementation can provide extra support.

References

1 Medications that Weaken Your Immune System and Fungal Infections. (2017, January 25). Retrieved January 21, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/infections/immune-system.html

2 Maggini S., Wintergerst E.S., Beveridge S., Hornig D.H. Selected vitamins and trace elements support immune function by strengthening epithelial barriers and cellular and humoral immune responses. Br. J. Nutr. 2007;98:S29–S35. doi: 10.1017/S0007114507832971

3 Zakay-Rones, Z., et al. “Randomized Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Elderberry Extract in the Treatment of Influenza A and B Virus Infections.” Journal of International Medical Research, Apr. 2004, pp. 132–140, doi:10.1177/147323000403200205.

Cindy Papp

Author

Body Cleanse and Detoxification Specialist with over 22 years experience; BSc in Holistic Nutrition, C.C.T. Colon Hydrotherapist, Cert. Holistic Health Practitioner, Spiritual Guide, Energy Work, Reiki, Author, Holistic Health Researcher

For more information on Cindy visit https://www.springclean-cleanse.com/