Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that your body needs for many functions. You probably heard about its ability to help the immune system. But is taking vitamin C for allergies useful or simply a waste of money.
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How Taking Vitamin C Could Help Allergies
Histamine plays a big role in allergy symptoms. Your body needs histamine it’s part of the immune system. The problem is when your body overreacts and produces too much histamine. When your body makes histamine in response to harmless stimulants, for example, pollens, dander, or dust mites, the symptoms can be extreme.
Vitamin C may help decrease the level of histamine in the body. Histamine levels were reduced 38% in the study after taking 2g of vitamin C.
Vitamin C was given intravenously in this study. They gave high doses of 7.5g to 71 people. It was tolerated well and only 1 out of the 71 had any type of reaction.
Over 50% of the participants in the study took no other allergy medication only the vitamin C treatment.
Participants not only had a decrease in allergy symptoms they also had a decrease in other symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disorders, depression, and lack of concentration. They also observed that there tends to be a deficiency of vitamin C in people with allergies.
This study was also done with intravenous vitamin C. It was given to those with allergies and also to people with infections. Vitamin C decreased histamine in both but showed a greater decrease in those with allergies.
Vitamin C is great for every part of your immune system. This article discussed how important it is for our immune systems in general. Also, when sick we get sick vitamin C gets used up and we need more. We don’t have the capacity to store much vitamin C so we continually need to replenish it.
More studies need to be done until we can be certain how well vitamin C helps with allergies. But there is some good evidence to suggests it could help. It is generally considered safe and is relatively cheap. Vitamin C could be a great option for helping improve your allergies.
Vitamin C deficiencies
Scurvy is caused by a deficiency of vitamin C. But it’s not a problem people encounter often now. You only need about 10mg of vitamin C a day to not develop scurvy. But just because people aren’t developing scurvy doesn’t mean everyone is getting an optimal amount of vitamin C.
People do not have the ability to store large amounts of vitamin C. We need to get it from our diets daily.
Reasons for low vitamin C:
- Lack of vitamin C in the diet
- Poor food choices
- Restrictive diets
- Lack of quality food
- Chronic illness
- Acute illness
- Excessively drinking alcohol
- Drug abuse
- Exposure to pollutants
- Physical or emotional stress
- Disorders that prevent you from absorbing nutrients. For example celiac disease or Crohn’s disease.
Symptoms of vitamin C deficiency can be vague and generalized. It can be difficult to pinpoint one symptom. But if you suspect you’re not getting enough vitamin C watch for symptoms.
Symptoms of low vitamin C:
- Fatigue – This can start after only weeks of low vitamin C intake.
- Easily bruised
- Poor wound healing
- Unable to fight off infections
- Rough, dry, or bumpy skin
- Redness around hair follicles
- Inflamed gums that bleed easily
- petechiae (small red or purple spots on the skin)
- Joint pain
If vitamin C deficiency is extreme it will lead to death. However, this is pretty rare. But if there could be reasons you are low on vitamin C or have any of the symptoms it would benefit you to get some extra vitamin C. When people are extremely low in vitamin C improvements can be fast.
Sources of Vitamin C
- Bell Peppers (Red has the most vitamin C) – 150mg per cup
- Strawberries – 98mg per cup
- Oranges – 96mg per cup
- Broccoli – 81mg per cup (cooking methods can affect the amount of vitamin C)
- Pineapple – 78mg per cup
- Kiwis – 71mg 1 medium kiwi
- Cantalope – 65mg per cup
- Fresh Thyme – 45mg per ounce
- Snowpeas – 38mg per cup
- Raspberries – 32mg per cup
- Blackberries – 30 mg per cup
There are many more foods that contain vitamin C these are just some common examples of high vitamin C foods.
If you are looking to get more can add in high vitamin C foods. For those with chronic health problems, physical, or emotional stress, who require larger doses of vitamin C, it can be hard to get enough with only food.
Boiling food is one of the worst ways to cook food when you are trying to increase your vitamin C. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and is leached into the water and removed from your food. You’re still getting benefits from eating the food and vitamins just less of them.
Steam is a better way to cook and keep vitamin C. Don’t cook the food until it is mush just steam lightly for the most vitamin C. You will lose a little but not as much as boiling.
Eat some fruits and vegetables raw. Fresh is always best but sometimes fresh isn’t an option. Don’t stress if you can’t eat perfectly (stress too much and it will lower your vitamin C more… that would be a little counterproductive). Get fresh herbs like thyme and parsley and sprinkle them on your food.
Can’t get fresh go with some frozen fruits and vegetables. A berry smoothie with a handful of spinach is a great way to get your daily dose of vitamin C. You can’t even taste the spinach in the smoothie… well, you mostly can’t taste it… Do it anyway it’s healthy!
How Much Vitamin C to Take
Allergy sufferers can be benefited by eating more foods with vitamin C. But to get the full benefits for allergies a supplement is probably required.
Severe allergy sufferers can search out clinics to see if any do IV vitamin C therapy. IV vitamin C therapy in the studies was 7.5g.
Finding an infusion clinic could be difficult. Since it is much easier and less invasive supplements are people’s main choice. The studies where people took 2000mg of vitamin C showed histamine levels dropped and allergy symptoms improved. 2000mg could be a good dose for allergies.
If you are a little nervous to start at a higher dose (it can cause diarrhea at high doses) start with 500mg and work your way up. Once you find the dose for you, either your symptoms are improved or just before the dose causes diarrhea, stick with that dose for a few weeks.
After symptoms improve you can go back to a lower dose. If you have bad allergies seasonally (or all year round) try taking it with quercetin and bromelain. Quercetin and bromelain are great for allergies and vitamin C helps with the absorption. Together they can make a great combo.
You can take vitamin C a few times throughout the day. It is a water-soluble vitamin and not much is stored in the body so extra is removed. Solgar is a brand I use for vitamin C. It is one of the more expensive brands and there are much cheaper ones out there, but I like this brand for the quality.
Getting too much vitamin C
You’re going to have a hard time getting too much vitamin C through foods. When taking a supplement you can run into a few problems if you get too much. You can have symptoms like:
If you experience these symptoms stop taking vitamin C or cut the dose down. The smallest dose that works is probably the best dose for you.
Vitamin C has some good studies and could be worth a try for allergies. I personally use vitamin C when my allergies are bothering me.
It is easy to add in through foods and even if you are going to supplement getting extra through food is a great idea. Eating healthier is always a good idea.
Remember how you cook your food affects the amount of vitamin C. Fresh is best but don’t overstress just work on adding in those healthy foods.
If you decide to take a supplement pay attention to how your stomach feels. Notice diarrhea or stomach upset cut back. You may start to see results quickly within a day or two. However, it may take a week or two before seeing results. Give it a little time when you start before giving up.
For other supplements that could improve your allergies here are a few suggestions:
Disclaimer – Medical advice is not provided in this article. Always consult a healthcare provider before adding any supplements or making lifestyle changes. For severe allergic reactions get help immediately.