Issue of June 6, 2021
     
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Vitamin C

Ascorbic acid or vitamin C is necessary for wound healing, absorption of iron in the intestinal tract, and formation of connective tissues.

Like vitamins A and E, it is an antioxidant – it scavenges or removes from the body free radicals or unstable molecules that can cause inflammation, heart disease, and some cancers. Unlike vitamin D, it cannot be synthesized by our body so that it has to be ingested in the diet.

The need for vitamin C increases when a person undergoes surgery, among pregnant women, in patients with burns, and in inflammatory diseases.

Lack of vitamin C causes scurvy and in children aged six to 12 months, the deficiency causes irritability, loss of appetite, and failure to gain weight. The child’s bones are thin and there can be easy bruising. Bleeding around the teeth is also one common presentation.

In adults, lack of vitamin C can lead to bleeding under the skin, in the gums, and in the joints. There is also easy fatigue, weakness, and depression. Fluctuations in blood pressure and heart rate can occur.

The level of vitamin C in the blood can be measured with a blood test. The vitamin is commonly found in citric fruits and many types of vegetables. It can have a minor role in preventing the common cold especially for persons who engage in high intensity physical activity and in extremely cold countries.

There is still no evidence to support the use of vitamin C supplementation for the prevention of chronic diseases.

The Physician’s Health Study II trial and the Women’s Antioxidant Cardiovascular Study found there was no decrease in the incidence of cancer. Other studies showed vitamin C has no role in the prevention of coronary heart disease. In randomized trials, vitamin C supplementation has no benefit in the prevention of cataracts.

Excessive vitamin C intake like doses higher than one gram per day can cause loose bowel movement, changes in menstrual cycle, or formation of kidney stones called cystine stones.

In a study on more than 23,000 men in 2013, it was found that those who took excessive ascorbic acid supplements had twice the risk of developing kidney stones. Cystine stones are known to cause kidney damage since they can become large and cause obstruction in the urinary tract, and they tend to form again after surgical removal.

The daily dose of vitamin C depends on the person’s age. Average daily recommended dose for men is 90 mg a day and 75 mg for women a day. Dosages are lower among children. The daily recommended dose can be attained by eating fruits and vegetables.

* * * * * * * * * *

The signs and symptoms of influenza can overlap with those of Covid-19, and co-infection can occur. Microbiological testing will differentiate between the two.

It is flu season, so it is advisable that we get the flu vaccine – the tetra or quadrivalent type because it contains four strains, hence we develop antibodies against four strains, not just three if we opt for the trivalent type.

It is safe to receive the flu vaccine and the Covid-19 vaccine at the same time.

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