As cold and flu season arrives, we want to make your life a bit simpler on some basic things you can do to give your immune system a boost. This includes clearing up any confusion about vitamin C and zinc, and how you should implement them.
Let’s start with vitamin C. This important vitamin helps to repair and regenerate tissues, protects against heart disease, and helps to combat free radicals, hence earning its status as a potent antioxidant.
Zinc is an essential mineral (our bodies can’t produce it) acts helps to facilitate the actions of many important functions, such as enzyme activity, DNA repair, and creating new proteins and cells.
Both zinc and vitamin C have obvious immune system benefits. For most people, vitamin C supplementation has been to reduce the length and duration of a cold, but not prevent them. Increasing Vitamin C levels also have their most potent effect within 24 hours of a cold onset, with no effect after that. This is the current accepted position of NCCAM, a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
However, zinc appears to be better if taken within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms, significantly reducing the intensity and duration of the cold. Vitamin C does not appear to effectively fight colds once symptoms begin, so boosting vitamin C levels once a cold begins is kind of useless. However, ongoing vitamin C supplementation does help fight colds, but doesn’t effectively prevent them.
In the Midwest, zinc deficiency by clinical standards is not very common, but that is different than zinc insufficiency, which I believe many more of us are. The RDA of 8-11 mg daily for adults is a minimal amount, and most Americans have an intake of 10 mg, but absorb only a percentage of that. Vitamin C RDA is 75-90 mg daily. Again, Vitamin C deficiency is not common in the U.S., but inadequacy is common.
At Body Bliss, we are big believers of lab based nutrition. Let the blood panel and other tests take the guesswork out of supplementation, and get the answers you need. We can order tests for you, or analyze your most recent labs to provide recommendations for you. Of course, chiropractic and massage have also been shown to boost immune function, giving you better protection against colds and infection.
Short of that, here’s what we can summarize if you are looking to get a leg up on the cold & flu season. Supplement with ongoing Vitamin C prior to the winter season. An extra 250-500 mg daily is sufficient. If you do get sick, don’t bother trying to increase your intake. Ongoing zinc supplementation is probably unnecessary unless a blood panel shows an insufficiency. Try taking zinc lozenges at the onset of a cold, and do not exceed 40 mg a day. Finally, get adjusted, eat well, and be well!