Avoiding the sick trap with Vitamin C

These fruits have vitamin C. Oh, that poor, beat up orange…

It seems like every winter, I fall into the same trap. I get sick, but I have to work since I’m the breadwinner of the family. So I go to the doctor. I get antibiotics, I take Nyquil for those tough nights when I need sleep. I wake up in a haze and go to work.

All of that is a hit to my internal organs like my kidneys and liver. All of that imposes stresses on my body that ultimately degrades my performance. And all of that is because there is only so much paid time off that I can work with and then I start to bump into days without pay. I have to check out for when my kids get sick, my wife gets sick, parent teacher conferences, and what’s left over are true sick days. It’s like the system is designed to keep me bouncing back and forth between doctors and over the counter medicine.

The “seasonal” medicine that is advertised on TV is designed to keep me working, even when I’m sick. Think back to the last Nyquil or Alka-Seltzer For Colds commercial you ever saw. The scene is some serf working a delivery job and he’s sneezing and coughing while handling Christmas gifts for delivery. He takes the serum and the symptoms disappear! Hooray! He can work! If he can do it, I can do it!

Most commercials for over the counter medication are about keeping you working while you’re sick. They usually air when October rolls around and they keep airing until the snow is gone. Then they go on to allergy medicine. This “I gotta take medicine so I can work” cycle is vicious and it only leads to long term illness in the form of far more debilitating diseases.

A couple of months ago, I decided that I wanted to change the cycle. I kept thinking of a visit to my doctor long ago where he read me the results of a blood panel. A blood panel is a series of standard tests run to measure your health, kind of like checking your oil in your car. So on that one visit to my doctor, I learned that my liver was at 83% of functioning. The doctor said that’s about normal for my age. And now I think of what I eat, what I drink and the medicine I take, in terms of liver and kidney functioning and health. I want to extend their health as long as I can. You know, so that I can see my daughters get married and have kids.

I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I tried coffee and that didn’t work for me. I avoid sugar. I am learning to avoid glutenous foods and try to go lean on carbs, but I don’t starve myself. I am getting more exercise lately with table tennis, for I just love to watch the curve of the ball. I play with my kids, and take them out for adventures on my days off because they keep me moving and they need to move.

I am just recovering from my second (or 3rd?) illness this last fall and winter. I decided that instead of doing the Nyquil or Sudafed or whatever was handy, I just cut down on my eating, drank lots of water and took vitamin C, in the form of Emergen-C. I ate lots of oranges, too. I tended towards the raw food when I’m sick and avoided carbs, too. I believe in Enzyme Nutrition (a great read).

I took this turn because I recall that there was some famous scientist, I think it was Linus Pauling, who took 2 grams of vitamin C every day for life after learning about it, and he lived to be a ripe old age of 92. This last fall and winter, I took up to 3 grams of vitamin C every day when I was sick or even when I could feel onset of illness.

In all cases, I took note of how I felt after taking the vitamin supplement in the form of Emergen-C (not an endorsement, so feel free to choose your own, or recommend one in the comments — I’ll check it out). I noticed within hours, some relief from acute symptoms. I noticed within days, much greater comfort and relief from the symptoms. It wasn’t a cure, but vitamin C greatly enhanced my comfort level while fighting off a cold or scratchy throat with a cough. I took no other medicines with onset of each illness I experienced in the past 4 months and I feel better for it.

I have also noticed that although I was sick, working while I was sick was made more tolerable. I also noticed that on my days off, I regained my health much faster with plenty of sleep and fluids, with vitamin C than without.

While researching this article, I learned that humans used to have a functioning gene that coded for the internal manufacture of vitamin C. Somewhere along the line, that gene mutated and no longer works, so now we have to get all of our vitamin C from our food. I also learned that the body will store some vitamin C, but that excess C will be excreted in our pee. You can’t really overdose on it, but you may find some discomfort if you take too much of it.

There has been a ton of research on Vitamin C going back for centuries. Vitamin C is one of the most studied of all the vitamins. Sure, there may be some controversy about Pauling’s claims with respect to cancer and heart disease. But I can tell you from personal experience, that I’d rather take 2 grams of vitamin C a day than a shot of Nyquil every night just to fight off a cold, or antibiotics to fight off a sinus infection.

Write on.