The usefulness of vitamin C against the most typical cold diseases has been known for decades and more recent studies confirm this.
Decades of research on the role of nutrition in the maintenance of efficient immune defenses and on the deleterious effects of nutritional deficits of various kinds have definitively clarified that an adequate daily intake of vitamins, minerals and compounds of antioxidant activity is crucial to allow the maintenance of well-being of the organism and protect itself from the aggression of viruses and bacteria diffused in the environment, with which you can get in touch every day.
When it comes to colds, caused mainly by influenza and cold viruses, vitamin C is not to be missed.
Benefits of vitamin C in support of immune defenses
First of all, thanks to its marked antioxidant action, vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid ) neutralizes free radicals and other reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced by normal energy metabolism, but above all by the cells of the immune system while fighting pathogenic microorganisms. In this way, vitamin C avoids the damage typically produced by these harmful molecules. The antioxidant action of vitamin C is further amplified by its ability to regenerate vitamin E from its oxidized form, allowing it to take advantage of the antioxidant effects of this second essential micronutrient.
In addition, some studies have shown that vitamin C stimulates the functionality of some cells of the immune system, such as neutrophils, macrophages and lymphocytes.
Finally, not to forget that vitamin C, intervening in the biosynthesis of collagen, structural protein of skin and cartilage, contributes to the integrity of the skin itself, the first line of defense of our body, and promotes the healing of wounds.
Vitamin C and cold
The first to suggest that vitamin C could be used to strengthen the immune system and prevent and / or treat the common cold was the scientist Linus Pauling, in 1970. The studies conducted in the following years have led to uncertain and conflicting results, also because relating to groups of people with variable characteristics that are not comparable with each other.
However, a review of the main research on the subject carried out by the Cochrane group in 2007 indicated that the intake of quantities ranging from 200 to 1,000 mg of vitamin C per day can reduce the incidence of colds in sportsmen, such as marathon runners and skiers, who engage in intense physical activity in extreme climatic conditions (very low temperature, humidity, etc.).
An update to 2010 of the same Cochrane review also reported that 29 comparative studies conducted in the general population to evaluate the protective effects of an intake of at least 200 mg / day of vitamin C have shown the ability of this integration to r educe the cold duration of 8% in adults and 13% in children, with positive effects on the symptoms (results on average less severe).
Other natural substances that have proven to be useful to protect against colds and flu, especially if taken together with vitamin C, are zinc and Echinacea.
You may also like to read: How Useful Lemon Juice for Health: 13 incredible facts
Where to find vitamin C
Fruits and vegetables are the main natural sources of vitamin C, as well as other vitamins, antioxidant compounds and mineral salts important for ensuring the proper functioning of the immune system and the general health of the body. For this reason, fruits and vegetables must be consumed every day, both during main meals and as healthy snacks (5 portions per day are recommended).
To top up with vitamin C you need to focus on fruits such as citrus fruits, kiwis, strawberries, berries and grapes, on vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, as well as on peas and aromatic herbs and spices like parsley, basil and chilli.
The vitamin C content of cereals is modest, but this micronutrient is often added to breakfast cereals, bars, etc. Even foods of animal origin are moderately poor in vitamin C.
Given that vitamin C is a compound that is easily dispersed in water and air and is damaged by high temperatures, it is important to consume foods that are rich raw or after short cooking (quick jump) in a pan or on a grill, avoiding boiling and prolonged oven cooking, which would impoverish them drastically. Steaming or microwave cooking seems to be more respectful of the vitamin content.
For similar reasons, fruits and vegetables should be consumed whole or in pieces that are not too small; if the citrus fruits are squeezed or the centrifuged fruit / shake, the resulting juice, drink or past must be consumed within a few minutes. In addition, seasonal and plant-based products should be preferred since these two conditions guarantee the maximum content of vitamin C and other compounds useful for health (therefore, better to choose zero-kilometer products).
Since the human body is not able to create reserves of vitamin C and that taken with the diet is quickly eliminated with the urine, to have always enough is necessary to introduce vitamin C every day.
Those who follow a varied diet and respect these basic rules of healthy nutrition will hardly go to vitamin C deficiency.
In cases where it is not possible to eat in a balanced manner and as a result reduces the adequate daily intake or when the need increases for various reasons (for example, in periods of intense mental and physical stress, during infectious diseases or if you practice intense physical activity) an additional amount of vitamin C can be obtained through monocomponent food supplements or in the context of mixtures containing different vitamins and minerals, available as tablets to be swallowed or dissolved in the mouth, in tablets or effervescent sachets.Tags: Strengthens Defenses, Vitamin C