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Protect Yourself Against Cold

An Infection Epidemic Today

Health officials and lay people alike are expressing great concern over the future of public health. The emergence of so many debilitating and/or life-threatening infectious conditions testifies to a present-day epidemic. Doctors are being challenged to diagnose and manage a wide variety of infections ranging from the common cold to perplexing conditions such as CMV (cytomegalovirus), EBV (Epstein-Barr virus), CFIDS (chronic fatigue immunodeficiency syndrome), HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), and AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Many have come to agree with Nobel Prize winning bacteriologist, Joshua Lederberg, that viral infection is one of the biggest threats to human survival. Compounding that concern is the discovery that some bacterial infections, once easily managed with antibiotics, now pose a serious threat to the health of the general population. According to Alexander Tomasz of Rockefeller University in New York City, a leading authority in the study of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, some common bacteria have developed antibiotic resistance and are evolving into forms untreatable by all known medications. The rise of drug-resistant bacteria is "unparalleled in recorded biologic history," says Dr. Stuart Levy of Tufts University. One resistant bacterium can bear 16,777,220 offspring within 24 hours and can, even more insidiously, pass on its resistance to unrelated microbes. Tomasz stated that in a world where antibiotics may not work, the simplest infections could quickly escalate into fatal illness. His concerns are shared by doctors at the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta who stated, "It's potentially an extremely serious problem." They reported in 1992 that 13,300 hospital patients died of infections that resisted every drug doctors tried.

Prevention: The best medicine microscopic wars rage constantly within your body but you are normally not aware that these incessant battles against infection are being fought. The attackers are tiny but can be plentiful and lethal. Some are so small that 230 million of them could fit on the period at the end of this sentence. Ideally, your immune system will automatically provide legions of defenders, a wonderful network of organs and specialized cells that are constantly vigilant, fighting to keep you healthy. But sometimes your defenders are caught in a weakened state, and you develop a cold, the flu, or a more serious infection. We agree with the saying, "Prevention is the best medicine." We promote optimal support of the body's innate and miraculous infection-fighting ability now, which may help reduce our dependence on antibiotics later.

We advocate maximizing the state of immune system readiness and functionality and minimizing periods of immune weakness.

What factors may contribute to the weakening of your immune system? A basic list of things to avoid includes physiological, psychological, and emotional stress; poor physical and aerobic conditioning; lack of sleep, rest, and relaxation; and an especially poor diet.

While all of these factors are important, our discussion below will focus on proper nourishment.

The Value of Proper Nourishment

When your nutritional stores become depleted, your immune system may become less able to provide defense against foreign invaders.

A study reported in the journal, Lancet (Vol. 340, 1992), illustrates the importance of proper vitamin and mineral nourishment for optimizing immune system activity in the elderly. Ninety-six individuals over the age of 65 were evaluated after nutritional supplementation with a multiple vitamin/mineral formula or placebo. The study showed that the group who took the supplements had half the number of days sick from colds, flus, and other infection-related illnesses.

Vitamin C and the Immune System

Although many nutrients are necessary for a healthy immune system, vitamin C is perhaps the most common nutrient we associate with supporting immunity. Prompted by the publishing of Dr. Linus Pauling's book, Vitamin C and the Common Cold, in 1970, many people have sworn by megadoses of vitamin C as one of the best ways to reduce the chances of getting sick.

Although more research is needed to clearly establish the properties of vitamin C, some studies demonstrate that vitamin C increases the activity of specific white blood cells, the cells involved in fighting infection. It has been observed that white blood cell movement, as well as their ability to destroy bacteria, is stimulated in the presence of vitamin C. It has also been noted that some viral growth may be inhibited when vitamin C is present. Some scientific data suggest that vitamin C may reduce the incidence of the common cold, and that it may shorten the duration of colds and lessen the severity of symptoms.

A recent study revealed the positive effect of vitamin C on a very specific and important type of white blood cell of the immune system, the natural killer (NK) cell. The study indicated that vitamin C may cause an increase in NK cell activity. When NK cell activity increases, your immune system may become more capable of fighting infections.

Are all vitamin C supplements the same? Some nutritional experts suggest that vitamin C supplements made up of a blend of mineral ascorbates that are neutral pH and vitamin C metabolites may be a better form of vitamin C for many people.

How much vitamin C is recommended? The current RDA for vitamin C is 60 mg per day, the minimum amount needed to guard against the vitamin C deficiency disease, scurvy. Our ancestral diet contained 400 to 2,000 mg per day.

According to the late, two-time Nobel Prize winner and noted vitamin C researcher, Dr. Linus Pauling, this may still fall short of providing optimal support for immune system readiness and functionality. He personally took 4,500 mg of vitamin C each day, and recommended 10,000 to 12,000 mg daily for those with serious immune challenge or weakness.

Other researchers concur by suggesting that, at times of infection, vitamin C requirements may increase significantly.

Does vitamin C work alone? While vitamin C is one of the most commonly known vitamins, there are many other nutrients that are needed for good health. We recommend a variety of nutritional formulas. Ask us about them today.

Healthy ways to protect yourself

Eat a nutrient rich, balanced diet consisting of high fiber, complex carbohydrates, and moderate protein in the form of fresh, whole, unprocessed foods

Implement stress control measures and strive to achieve a healthy psychological state

Get plenty of rest and relaxation

Exercise regularly

Take a vitamin C supplement containing a blend of vitamin C and its metabolites

References 1. Raeburn P. Deadly post-antibiotic era seen. Orange County Register February 10, 1994. 2. Begley S. The end of antibiotics. Newsweek March 28, 1994:47-51. 3. Jaret P. Our immune system, the wars within. National Geographic June, 1986;169;6:702-35. 4. Chandra RJ. Effect of vitamin and trace element supplementation on immune responses and infection in elderly subjects. Lancet November 2, 1992;340:1124-7. 5. Pauling L. Vitamin C and the Common Cold. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman Co. 6. Vojdani A, Ghoneum M. In vivo enhancement of human NK activity by vitamin C. FASEB February, 1992;6;4:A12313. 7. Hemila H. Vitamin C and lowering blood pressure: need for intervention trials. J Hypertens 1991;9;11:1076-7. 8. Pauling L. Linus Pauling on vitamin C against colds, cancer and AIDS. Good Medicine Summer, 1993:8-10.
MET126 Rev. 5/98 ©1994 Advanced Nutrition Publications, Inc., rev. 1998


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