6 Nutrient Deficiencies That Could Be Causing Or Contributing To Your Depression

6 Nutrient Deficiencies That Could Be Causing Or Contributing To Your Depression

A variety of protein powder and shakes.

Everywhere I look these days people are struggling with depression and anxiety. Teenagers, mom’s, older people, even in young kids! Mental health was already reaching a crisis point prior to the pandemic, and following this it has become at an all-time high, even though life has gone back to (relative) normal. By 2030, experts report that major depressive disorder (MDD) will become the main contributor to disease burden globally, and The Lancet-World Psychiatric Association Commission on depression states that depression is already a global health crisis.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 5% of adults (300 million people) worldwide live with depression, but about 75% of people with depression don’t get the treatment they need. About half of individuals diagnosed with depression also have a history of one or more anxiety diagnoses. So often people are dealing with multiple mental health problems.

The first course of action is for people to go to their family doctor and be put on antidepressants. But those can often come with many side effects and do not always work effectively. There can be a number of underlying reasons for depression and these are rarely explored by your doctor. It is important that these should be looked at to determine potential underlying issues and subsequently the best treatment approach.

 

Vitamin and Mineral deficiencies can cause or contribute to depression

Vitamins and minerals, although needed in smaller amounts in the body, are crucial for our body and brain to function effectively. Research shows that deficiencies in vitamins B6, B12, folate, vitamin D, zinc and magnesium can all contribute to depression. Research also shows that low levels of B6, B12 and folic acid are excellent predictors of low mood.

 

Depression and Methylation

There is a process in our body called methylation, which is responsible for keeping thousands of neurotransmitters, hormones and other essential biochemicals in balance. Methylation is an important factor in determining your mood, motivation, concentration and ability to deal with stress. If you have problems with methylation this can contribute to high homocysteine levels.

Homocysteine is a toxic amino acid, so we always want to keep homocysteine levels in the body low. That’s where vitamins B12, B6 and folate come in. They help to break down homocysteine to create other chemicals your body needs. Without treatment, elevated homocysteine increases your risk of depression. Research shows that the higher your homocysteine levels the more likely you can feel depressed and demotivated. (1)

Studies have shown that over half of people with severe depression were found to have high homocysteine levels and high levels of homocysteine can double the risk of having depression. (1) High homocysteine levels are common in individuals with a folate or B12 deficiency and in those suffering from depression who have a poor response to anti-depressants. (2,3) So you may want to consider as part of your treatment to get blood work done and have your homocysteine levels as well as your B6 and B12 tested.

 

Folic Acid and Depression

Poor folic acid intake is found in up to 38% of people with diagnosed with depression and many notice improvements when they increase their intake of folic rich foods. (5) Folic acid is essential for nerve cell growth and maintenance as well personality and mood. Depressed patients who are folic acid deficient may be less responsive to antidepressant medications.

Research in men showed that men who had the highest blood levels of folic acid had half the risk of developing depression. (4) Another study of 15,000 people showed that the lower the persons folate levels in the blood the greater their risk of depression. (5)

Folic acid is found in dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and beans but is easily destroyed when food is cooked too long, reheated or cooked in large amounts of water such as boiling instead of the preferable method of light steaming.

Try our pesto baked eggs recipe which is loaded with folic acid as well as vitamin D.

 

Vitamin B6 and Depression

Vitamin B6 plays an important role in mood regulation. Several studies have shown that depressive symptoms are associated with low blood levels of B6 and a diet low in B6. (6) B6 is necessary for creating neurotransmitters that regulate emotions, including serotonin (that makes us happy), dopamine (that helps us feel motivation and the sense of pleasure) and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) (that helps us feel calm and relaxed). Therefore, it plays a crucial role in managing our moods and feelings. (7)

Vitamin B6 may also play a role in decreasing high blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which have been linked to depression and other psychiatric issues. (8,9) Although the research doesn’t necessarily show that supplementing with B6 can help with depression, this might mean that a more collaborative approach of taking a B complex with B12 and folic acid might be a more effective strategy. It also gives you better bang for your buck in terms of cost with taking all the B vitamins at once.

Loaded in B6, Folic acid and zinc try this simple spinach scramble recipe.

 

Vitamin B12 and Depression

Researchers found that a decrease in the vitamin B12 levels in the blood correlates with an increase in depression and that high vitamin B12 status may be associated with better treatment outcomes of depression. (10) One possible connection is the effect of vitamin B12 on the levels of serotonin in your brain, in addition to other chemicals. B12 is an important nutrient needed in the methylation process. Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products so vegetarians, people with digestive disorders such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease or people who have low stomach acid are more at risk of a deficiency. Stomach acid naturally diminishes as we age (over 40) so older people are also at greater risk of a B12 deficiency. For example, in a study of 700 elderly women, those with vitamin B12 deficiencies were twice as likely as others to be severely depressed. (11)

Vitamin B12 supplementation in conjunction with antidepressants has been shown significantly improve depressive symptoms. (12) So, this might be a great option to enhance the effects of your medication.

Looking for a delicious meal that is high in B12, try our classic beef roast recipe!

 

Vitamin D and Depression

There are Vitamin D receptors found in the areas of the brain that are linked to the development of depression. Canadian researchers reviewed 14 studies, consisting of over 31,000 participants and found a strong correlation between depression and a lack of Vitamin D. The lower the Vitamin D level, the greater the chance of depression. (14)

Vitamin D can be obtained through foods, but this is limited. Most of our vitamin D comes from the sun and our skin’s ability to make Vitamin D. For some individuals obtaining adequate amounts of vitamin D through exposure to UV light throughout the year is nearly impossible. The best way to get the vitamin D that you need is to supplement. Ideally it is best to get your vitamin D levels checked as you may require significant higher doses if you are low.

Ideally supplementing between 1000-3000 IUs a day is a good starting point. Try our delicious Vitamin D rich rosemary walnut crusted salmon recipe.

 

Zinc and Depression

Zinc is important for helping to balance blood sugars, stabilise your metabolism, and make serotonin. In one study low zinc levels in the blood were strongly linked with increased risk for depression and this might be one nutrient that you need to increase in your diet. (16)

One study showed that supplementing with 25 mg of zinc improved recovery in people with depression that did not respond to anti-depressants. (17) If you are low in zinc, you may experience frequent colds and flu, loss or diminished sense of smell and taste, lack of appetite and of course depression.

Loaded in zinc, try our yummy coconut yogurt clusters.

 

Magnesium

Magnesium helps to make serotonin which can help combat depression. Research shows that there is a significant link between low magnesium intake and depression in adults. (18)

Studies are also showing that over-the-counter magnesium may be a safe and effective way to treat mild to moderate depression and comparable to prescription SSRI treatments in effectiveness as well as for individuals that have not seen any improvements with taking antidepressants. One study showed that magnesium was just as effective as an anti-depressant in treating depression in diabetics with the added of bonus of not having any of the side effects of the antidepressants and in other studies it has shown that in conjunction with an antidepressant the benefits of the antidepressant was stronger. (19,20)

Food processing, taking antacids and diuretics, as well as caffeine, stress and alcohol can decrease our ability to absorb magnesium. Try our quick and easy broccoli mushroom fried quinoa recipe loaded in B6, magnesium, zinc and folic acid.

 

Summary

If you or your loved one struggles with depression, make sure you explore potential underlying causes of depression that could be contributing to your low mood. This might help provide you with better or more specific treatment options that can give you a lot of success in helping to boost your mood.

Make sure if you visit your doctor you get blood work to check vitamin B12, folic acid, B6, vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc. Increasing your intake of food high in these nutrients and possibly supplementing might help to give you that added boost to your mood and help get you out of that funk.

References

1. H. Tiemeier, et al. Vitamin B12, folate and homocysteine in depression: The Rotterdam study, American Journal of psychiatry, 2002:159 (12): 2099-101, T. Bottiglieri, et al., Homocysteine, folate, methylation and monamine metabolism in depression, Jounral of neurology, neurosurgery and psychiatry, 2000;69;228-32; M. Fava and T. Bottiglerri, et al Folate, vitamin B12 and homocysteine in major depressive disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry 1997;154;426-8

2. BMC Psychiatry. 2003;3:17–22. 16. Tiemeier H, vanTuijl HR, Hofman A, Meijer J, Kiliaan AJ, Breteler MM.

3. Vitamin B12 folate and homocysteine in depression the Rotterdam Study. Am J Psychiatry. 2002;159(12):2099–01. 17. Sachdev PS, Parslow RA, Lux O, et al. Relationship of homocysteine folic acid and vitamin B12 with depression in a middle aged community sample. Psychol Med. 2005;35(4):529–38.)

4. A. Nanri, et al., Serum folate and homocysteine and depressive symptoms among Japenese men and women, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 2010;64 (2):289-96

5. S. Gilbody, et al., Is low folate a risk for depression? A meta-analysis and exploration of heterogeneity, Journal of Epidemiology and Community health, July 2007;61 (7): 631-7

6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15479988/ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20519557/

7. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-B6 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18494537/

8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17541043/

9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17729191/

10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15671130/

11. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/guide-to-psychiatry-and-counseling.

12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3856388/

13. Spedding, S. (2014). Vitamin D and Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Comparing Studies with and without Biological Flaws. Nutrients, 6(4), 1501–1518. doi: 10.3390/nu6041501

14. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, St Joseph’s Hospital, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

15. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2796.2008.02008.x,

16. Rafalo, A., Sowa-Kucma, M., Pochwat, B., Nowak, G., & Szewczyk, B. (2016). Zinc Deficiency and Depression. Nutritional Deficiency. doi: 10.5772/63210

17. M. Siwek, et al., Zinc supplementation augments efficacy of imipramine in treatment resistant patients: A double blind placebo controlled study, Journal of Affective Disorders, November 2009;118(1-3): 187-95, Department of Psychiatry, Jagiellonian University, Poland

18. Tarleton EK, Littenberg B. Magnesium intake and depression in adults. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. 2015;28(2):249-256. doi:10.3122/jabfm.2015.02.140176

19. Tarleton EK, Littenberg B, MacLean CD, Kennedy AG, Daley C. Role of magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression: A randomized clinical trial. Song Y, ed. PLoS ONE. 2017;12(6):e0180067. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0180067

20. 1.Tarleton EK, Kennedy AG, Rose GL, Crocker A, Littenberg B. The association between serum magnesium levels and depression in an adult primary care population. Nutrients. 2019;11(7):1475. doi:10.3390/nu11071475

5 Weight Loss Hacks To Shed That Winter Weight Gain

5 Weight Loss Hacks To Shed That Winter Weight Gain

Mental Health Gut Article

Every year, weight loss is one of the top new year’s resolutions. But before you sign-up for that expensive gym membership, check out these 5 awesome weight loss hacks we’ve put together to help shed those winter lbs.

#1 DRINK LOTS OF WATER

Yeah, yeah – we all hear and know that we have to drink more water – but do we? And do we really know why drinking water is so important apart from everyone telling us to?

Our bodies are made up of 60-65% of water so we need water to help support our metabolism and all the various functions in the body. Water helps to metabolize fat as well as help you feel full. Often people mistake feeling hungry when, in fact, they are thirsty. So instead of grabbing a water bottle people will often grab food instead.

Research shows that drinking water before meals results in an average reduction of 75 calories per meal which can equate to a whopping 27,000 fewer calories per year. (WebMD). Ideally you want to minimize drinking during the meal as this can dilute your digestive juices and make it more taxing on your digestive system. Try our refreshing keto lemonade recipe loaded in electrolytes if you struggle to drink just plain water.

Just remember if you are thirsty, you are already 5% dehydrated and will be experiencing a 25-30% loss in energy!  When fatigued this might leave you more inclined to look for something sweet to give you that energy burst, when really you need fluids. Mild dehydration can also cause your metabolism to slow down by 3%. So there are a number of reasons why drinking adequate amounts of water can help you feel and look your best.

Health Canada recommends that women should consume on average 2.7 liters per day and men 3.7 liters per day. But if you work out, go in a sauna, steam rooms, or in hot weather you may need more than this.

#2 INTERMITTENT FASTING

This has definitely been growing as a popular weight loss strategy and this is not surprising.  There is no mess, no fancy recipes to follow, it helps to save money as you are missing meals and it has been proven to help successfully lose weight.

Intermittent fasting (IF) is not a diet but an eating pattern and involves restricting your eating window during the day. This can include a 4, 8, or 12 hour window to eat.

Intermittent fasting has been proven to help people lose weight for a number of reasons. Not only are you reducing calories by reducing the amount of opportunity to eat but, intermittent fasting has been shown to lower insulin levels and increase growth hormone levels, which assists with fat loss and muscle gain. It also increases the release of the fat burning hormone, norepinephrine (noradrenaline) and can increase your metabolic rate by 3.6–14% which means while you are sitting here reading this article you are burning more calories that what you would before.

People often experience less anxiety, depression, and feel happier than usual when doing IF. This might help people who struggle with emotional eating and over eating. For more information on intermittent fasting, go to our article.

#3 THERMOGENIC FOODS

Thermogenic foods are foods that can help increase metabolism and calorie burning. This is a process in which the body burns calories to utilize the foods you have just eaten. Each time you eat, the muscles in your gastrointestinal tract start working faster, your stomach starts to produce digestive juices and every nutrient requires a different amount of energy to be broken down and absorbed.

There are thermogenic foods and negative calorie foods – which means, that your body uses more energy to help digest the calories in food, resulting in a calorie deficit. Approximately 10% of calories are burned through diet-induced thermogenesis.

Scientists from University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust and the University of Warwick looked at the energy required to digest celery. Raw celery contains 53 calories, but it took 72 calories to digest the raw celery so it actually ran a calorie deficit.

Examples of thermogenic foods include: almonds, apples, berries, citrus fruits, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower), cucumber, green leafy veggies, mushrooms, cinnamon, ginger, Turmeric, hot spices, coffee and hot peppers.

#4 GREEN TEA

Who knew that sipping on green tea can do wonders for your waistline! Research shows that habitual tea drinkers had an average of 19.6% less body fat, and had slimmer waists, than people who didn’t drink tea regularly. Most of these tea drinkers chose green tea (Journal of Obesity Research). Check out our delicious .

The great thing about green tea is that it contains a flavonoid called EGCG, which helps burn fat and reduce diet-induced obesity and research shows that it also helps to keep the weight off afterwards (Obesity Research, June 2005). EGCG, can help inhibit an enzyme that breaks down the hormone norepinephrine (1). When this enzyme is inhibited, the amount of norepinephrine increases, promoting fat breakdown and weight loss (2).

Also, green tea contains L-theanine, a calming amino acid which can help decrease cortisol, a stress hormone linked with anxiety (12). Excess cortisol is responsible for that nice tire around our belly so managing cortisol can really help to slim down waistlines.

#5 HOT PEPPERS

Jalapenos contain a compound called capsaicin. Capsaicin can increase your body’s fat burning ability, which promotes weight loss. Jalapenos are found in salsa and research from Oxford University showed that salsa can stimulate the metabolism by 20-25%.

Salsa is a great alternative to ketchup for a number of reasons. Ketchup is heavily loaded in sugar. 2 tablespoons of Ketchup have 40 calories and 7.5 teaspoons of sugar, while 2 tablespoons of Salsa are less than 10 calories and 2 teaspoons of sugar.  Add on the fat burning properties of the capsaicin in the salsa and you have a great weight loss condiment. Add salsa to your eggs, on burgers, as a dip or with your chicken.

TRY OUR FAT BURNING WEIGHT LOSS DRINK BELOW!

To get more bang for your buck try our weight loss virgin bloody mary which is loaded with fat burning properties. This is a great option when entertaining or out with friends, without feeling the pressure of drinking.

References

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4872453/
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519049/
3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30274327/
4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24117885/
5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29539647/
6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24117885/
7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16546266/
8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30764679/
9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26691768/
10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29662448/
11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29695122/
12. Keservani RK, Sharma AK, Kesharwani RK. Medicinal Effect of Nutraceutical Fruits for the
Cognition and Brain Health. Scientifica (Cairo). 2016;2016:3109254. doi:10.1155/2016/3109254
13. Al-Dujaili E, Smail N. Pomegranate juice intake enhances salivary testosterone levels and
improves mood and well being in healthy men and women. Endocr Abstr. 2012;28:313.
14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16176615
15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17299107
16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1790619z
17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20372175
18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23979220
19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16321601
20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10584049

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coconut Matcha Tea

Coconut Matcha Tea

Two Glasses with Detox Green Smoothie

This rich smooth green tea is delicious on a winters morning or curling up with a good book or movie.

Not only is it delicious but it is loaded with health benefits!

You can use green tea or matcha green tea powder. There are so many health benefits of green tea. I would classify this is one of the super foods because of the extensive research that has been done it for various health conditions and diseases. Green tea is rich in antioxidants, in particular polyphenols, which help to combat free radical damage. Free radical damage can negatively impact your organs and contribute to various diseases.

Green tea contains L theanines which is a calming amino acid that increases the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, which has anti-anxiety effects. It also increases dopamine and the production of alpha waves in the brain, which can help boost motivation and get you going throughout the day. (1)

A study published in the Journal of Obesity Research showed that habitual tea drinkers had an average of 19.6% less body fat, and had slimmer waists, than people who didn’t drink tea regularly. Most of these tea drinkers chose green tea.

Green tea also contains a type of flavonoid called EGCG, which has not only shown to help burn fat and reduce diet-induced obesity, but also helps to keep the weight off afterwards (Obesity Research, June 2005). EGCG, can help inhibit an enzyme that breaks down the hormone norepinephrine (2). When this enzyme is inhibited, the amount of norepinephrine increases, promoting fat breakdown and facilitating weight loss (3).

Several studies suggest that taking green tea extract or EGCG supplements can make you burn 3–4% more calories at rest, although some even show an increase as high as 8% (4,5,6).

Looking for another way to use green tea? Check out this great green tea banana ice cream recipe!

Coconut butter is made by pureeing coconut meat, with the coconut oil. The spread is solid at room temperature and softens when heated. It has nutrients coconut oil doesn’t, specifically fiber. One tablespoon of coconut butter has 2 grams of fiber. It also contains protein, potassium, magnesium and iron.

Enjoy this creamy rich green tea this winter!

References
1. https://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server/APJCN/17%20Suppl%201/167.pdf
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10584049
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16176615
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17299107
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17906192
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20372175

Coconut Matcha Tea

Looking to spice up your matcha game? We have a great coconut macha tea recipe for you to try.
Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Servings 1

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup Water (hot)
  • cup Canned Coconut Milk
  • 1 tsp Green Tea Powder
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Butter
  • 1 tbsp Raw Honey (optional)

Instructions
 

  • In your blender, combine the hot water, coconut milk, matcha, coconut butter, and raw honey (if using). Blend until creamy and frothy. Pour into a mug and enjoy!

Notes

Nutritional information per serving:
Calories 377
Iron 1mg
Fat 32g
Carbs 24g
Fiber 2g 
Sugar 19g 
Protein 3g 
Sodium 40mg 
Potassium 232mg
Magnesium 5mg
Calcium 39mg 
Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogourt

Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogourt

Two Glasses with Detox Green Smoothie

This delicious yet simple Plain Greek Yogurt has less carbs and sugar that regular yoghurt and almost twice the protein (24 grams compared to 13 grams in regular plain yogurt) making it a much healthier option for weight management.

Greek yoghurt has less of the sugar lactose making it easier for people that are lactose intolerance to digest.

Pumpkin is super nutritious. One cup of cooked pumpkin (245 grams) contains 2 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and 245% of RDA (recommended daily intake) for vitamin A and 19% of the RDI for vitamin C. It is also low in calories as 94% of pumpkin is make up of water.

Pumpkins contain antioxidants, such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. These can neutralize free radicals, stopping them from damaging your cells and can reduce your risk of cancer. (1,2) Because of it’s high Vitamin A levels it helps support healthy eyes and boost the immune system.

Maple Syrup contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Studies indicate that maple syrup contains 24 different antioxidants (3). The darker syrups are made from sap extracted later in the harvest season and they are higher in the antioxidants. When buying maple syrup, make sure to read food labels carefully. This way, you’ll get real maple syrup — not just maple-flavored syrup, which can be loaded with refined sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.

For another great recipe containing maple syrup, check out our turmeric latte recipe.

With this yoghurt recipe you can make a batch of this and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.

References

1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0308814697001969

2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12134711/

3. https://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/publications?id=28297

Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogourt

Love pumpkin pie but don't love all the calories that come with it? This pumpkin pie yogourt is what you're looking for!
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Servings 1

Ingredients
  

  • 3/4 cup Plain Greek Yogourt
  • 1/3 cup Pureed Pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt

Instructions
 

  • Whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl until well combined. Enjoy!

Notes

Nutritional information per serving:
Calories 253 
Iron 2mg
Fat 4g
Vitamin D 75IU
Carbs 37g
Vitamin E 1mg
Fiber 3g
Sugar 26g
Riboflavin 0.4mg
Protein 18g
Cholesterol 25mg
Vitamin B6 0.1mg
Sodium 704mg
Folate 10μg
Potassium 246mg
Vitamin A 13652IU
Magnesium 28mg
Vitamin C 15mg
Zinc 1mg
Calcium 438mg
Selenium 1μg

Supporting the Immune System with Vitamin C

Supporting the Immune System with Vitamin C

Supporting the Immune System Koru Nutrition

The world is going through unprecedented times at the moment. Supporting a healthy immune system has never been so crucial for our health and the health of our families. At Koru Nutrition we want to make sure that you have the right information so you can take the steps needed to build a healthy immune system and help protect you and your family.

Influenza, commonly known as “the flu”, is an infectious disease caused by an influenza virus. Symptoms can be mild to severe. The most common symptoms include: a high fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pains, headache, coughing, and feeling tired. These symptoms typically begin two days after exposure to the virus and last about a week. The cough, however, may last for more than two weeks. Right now, we are living in uncertain times with the immergence of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Although part of the cold and flu family, the human race has never been exposed to this virus before.

So is there anything we do to protect ourselves?

The Under-Rated Power of Vitamin C

Health food stores and drugstores have been running out of various immune-supportive supplements as people attempt to strengthen and enhance their immunity. Vitamin C is one supplement that has been in high demand.

But does vitamin C really protect us?

Vitamin C is found in high concentrations in our white blood cells, but is rapidly depleted during infections resulting in reduced immunity (5,6). Vitamin C helps us to upregulate our immune system, and the scientific literature has extensive research on the ability of vitamin C to support the body in recovery from a variety of viruses (4, 5, 7, 8, 9).

A vitamin C deficiency results in a weakened immune system and susceptibility to colds and other infections. Since the lining of the respiratory tract also depends heavily on the protection of vitamin C, respiratory infection and other lung-related conditions may also be a symptom of inadequate vitamin C intake(10).

Research shows that vitamin C in  therapeutic doses  can be very effective at preventing and addressing the common influenza virus, sometimes even after serious complications such as encephalitis have arisen along with many other viral syndromes (4). In spite of this information, vitamin C is still not routinely utilized against this infectious disease, and none of the various forms of vitamin C are included in the formularies of nearly any US hospitals.

One study on individuals that had cold/flu-like symptoms split participants into 2 groups. The control population were treated with pain relievers and decongestants, whereas those in the test population were treated with hourly doses of 1000 mg of Vitamin C for the first 6 hours and then 3 times daily thereafter. Overall, reported flu and cold symptoms in the group that was administered vitamin C decreased by 85% compared with the control group. (1)

In the evaluation of vitamin C, administration of extra therapeutic doses at the onset of cold/flu symptoms has found to help reduce illness duration, shorten the time of confinement indoors and relieve the symptoms associated with it, including chest pain (2).

Unfortunately, because the novel coronavirus has never been seen before, there is little research to date about the impact of vitamin C specifically on the COVID-19 virus. However, because vitamin C has shown success in treating many other viral infections and has a very low risk-profile, it may be one more tool you and your family can use – in addition to social distancing, frequent handwashing, and wearing a facemask and gloves in public – to help protect yourselves.

Supplementation

Currently, for the immune benefits. Vitamin C supplementation is very safe. There is no documented toxicity level for vitamin C because it is a water-soluble vitamin, which means it is flushed out of the body relatively quickly. Vitamin C is also easily lost with stress, and as mentioned above, is rapidly lost when a person is sick or has an infection.

Because vitamin C has a laxative effect at higher doses, often health professionals recommending individualized high-doses for their clients will suggest taking it only to bowel tolerance. Vitamin C is best taken with meals to improve absorption.

 

Foods High in Vitamin C

Having a diet high in fruits and vegetables is a great step to not only increase your vitamin C intake, but also your intake of many other immune-supportive antioxidants and nutrients. If you are unable to supplement, or simply want to increase your intake, the chart below outlines some foods that are high in vitamin C. However, if you do have flu-like symptoms vitamin C supplementation is highly recommended.

Food Amount (mg) Daily value (DV) %
Bell Peppers (1 cup) 174.8 291%
Parsley (2 tablespoons) 10 16.6%
Broccoli (1 cup) 123.4 205.7%
Strawberries (1 cup) 81.7 136.1%
Tomatoes (1 cup) 34.4 57.3%
Lemon juice (¼ cup) 28.1 46.8%
Oranges (1 fruit) 69.7 116.2%
Kale (1 cup) 53.3 88.8%
Cabbage (1 cup) 30.2 50.3%

 

If you would like more information about the impact of nutrition on your immunity, please reach out to Koru Nutrition today.

Stay safe and stay home.

 

References

  1. Gorton HC, Jarvis K., J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1999 Oct;22(8):530-3. The effectiveness of vitamin C in preventing and relieving the symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections.
  2. Biomed Res Int. 2018; 2018: 1837634. Published online 2018 Jul 5. doi: 10.1155/2018/1837634 PMCID: PMC6057395 PMID: 30069463 Extra Dose of Vitamin C Based on a Daily Supplementation Shortens the Common Cold: A Meta-Analysis of 9 Randomized Controlled Trials Li Ran, 1 Wenli Zhao, 1 , 2 Jingxia Wang, 3 Hongwu Wang, 4 Ye Zhao, 3 , 5 Yiider Tseng,corresponding author 5 and Huaien Bucorresponding author 4
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