Monday, October 6, 2008

Natural Immune Support, Part 1: Super-Charged Vitamin C

Yeah, I know. Vitamin C is old news. Everyone wants to hear about something new and exotic, and nature’s pharmacopeia has no shortage of great immune support substances. Mushrooms, Echinacea, and vitamin D just begins to scratch the surface of all that nature has to offer in terms of immune support. But vitamin C, especially the admixture form which has unique leukocyte stimulating properties, remains one of the most powerful immune support agents on the planet.

The white blood cells are so dependent upon vitamin C for their function that they work to concentrate as much as 80 times more of it inside the cell than outside in the blood. The scientific breakthroughs in vitamin C research are attributed to Dr. Linus Pauling, who recommended daily doses above 10 grams, and 15 grams for times of immune challenges and stress.

A New Era of Vitamin C Research
Most of the original research on vitamin C was performed with straight ascorbic acid. While ascorbic acid by itself certainly does have benefit, as Dr. Pauling clearly showed, it must be understood that ascorbic acid is only one component of vitamin C-rich foods, and providing more of the substances found in those foods could provide more broad spectrum support.

In an attempt to support this assertion, Drew Medical college in 1994 performed a comparative analysis on ascorbic acid against an admixture of various vitamin C metabolites and precursors on leukocyte activity. What they discovered was completely unexpected, but unmistakable.

The study showed that ascorbic acid actually suppressed leukocyte activity by 30% for four hours before any immune stimulation occurred. After the four hours, there was indeed a significant spike in leukocyte activity, but the previous four hours of immune suppression was alarming.

In comparison, the admixture showed no initial suppression of leukocyte activity, and in fact showed a slight stimulation almost immediately, with the most significant gains after four hours (see figure 1).

Additionally, the comparison showed a 25% better uptake into the white blood cell with the admixture compared to the ascorbic acid alone, indicating a stronger effect on overall immune function (see figure 2).

After the results were published, a propriety blend of the exact admixture used in the Drew Medical College study was created and is available as a nutritional supplement.

How the Admixture Vitamin C is Ultra Different
Instead of using the straight ascorbic acid, the proprietary formula features a fat-soluble form of vitamin C called, ascorbyl palmitate, which represents a molecular bond between palmitic acid and ascorbic acid, resulting in better uptake into the white blood cell.

Additionally, this formula features various ascorbates, which make the formula a neutral pH, which is good news for those who would otherwise be sensitive to vitamin C because of the acidic nature which can cause stomach upset and a tendency toward loose stools in some people.

Lastly, the admixture vitamin C formula adds various vitamin C precursors and metabolites, such as hesperidin, which rounds out the antioxidant nature of the formula.

An Ultra Potent C for Everyone
This new way of delivering vitamin C is provided in a 250 mg chewable, 500 mg and 1000 mg tablets, and a powder that is 4.3 grams per teaspoon. A maintenance dose would start at 1-2 grams per day, and for immune challenges one could go up to 12-16 grams. Because of the neutral pH, even the higher doses should be well tolerated by most people.

My Personal Testimony
I got sick a lot growing up. Like clockwork it was almost guaranteed that I would have at least 2-3 colds per year, and one to two bouts with the flu or strep. That trend lasted into my twenties when I went to work for Metagenics. Immediately after starting work for Metagenics and beginning the use of some of the various products, the frequency and duration of my illnesses fell sharply. In fact, since beginning the practice of placing one teaspoon (4 grams) of the vitamin C admixture powder in juice mixed with my anti-inflammatory medical food every morning, I almost never get sick. On the occasions when I feel like I’m fighting off something, I will boost the intake of of the vitamin C powder up to 12 grams or more, or 3 to 4 servings of the powder in hot water or juice, and my symptoms usually dissipate within a few hours if I can catch it early enough. (By the way, there’s something about mixing it in hot water like a tea that seems to boost the body temperature, open up the sinuses, and jump start the immune system almost immediately, even though it doesn't taste very good.) Even on the occasions when I don't catch an infection early enough and it starts to take hold, the severity and duration is a fraction of what one would usually expect from a head cold or the flu when using the natural immune support.

Of course, there are many other substances in nature that one can use to boost immunity, but in my opinion, vitamin C is the starting place.