More Effective Than the Seasonal Flu Vaccine!

Did you know there is a safer, more effective option to the flu shot? A study published found Colostrum to be 3 times more effective than vaccination for flu prevention.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17456621

Colostrum boosts the immune system, has anti-viral, anti-fungal, and antibacterial properties. To learn more about Colostrum, read my post:  https://healingautismandadhd.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/colostrum-isnt-just-for-babies/

To purchase the brand of Colostrum we use in our home, click here: http://kirkmanlabs.com/ProductKirkman/60/1/ColostrumGoldandtrade;Liquid%E2%80%93Unflavored%E2%80%93Hypoallergenic/

Digestive Enzymes – An Important Team Player

Football season is here and our family loves the Dallas Cowboys. I love to watch football with the men of my house.  The quarterback is the primary playmaker on the team and sets the game in motion. Digestive enzymes are like the quarterback in the digestion game in our gut. They get the ball rolling and involve the entire team in reaching the goal…digestion of foods so our bodies can get the nutrients to thrive on.  Digestive enzymes are needed to completely break down the foods and peptides for several reasons: to reap the all the nutrients in the food, and so the bad bacteria or yeast don’t have more food to eat and grow on.

Our body naturally produces digestive enzymes to break down foods before they start their trek through the intestines. We have enzymes in our saliva that aid in food breakdown. These enzymes are amylase, which break down carbohydrates along with our chewing of the food. Next stop is the stomach where stomach acid, muscles and the enzyme pepsin, breaks down proteins and work on the food for approximately an hour before it continues to the small intestine. Our small intestines release enzymes as well as our pancreas. Enzymes released in our small intestines are lactase (breaks down milk sugars), DPP IV (breaks down the milk and other protein bonds), and disaccharides (breaks down starches and sugars).

You can see that digestive enzymes have a lot of work to do and without them, our bodies cannot function properly just like a football team can’t function without its quarterback. Enzymes are required for your body to function properly because without enzymes you wouldn’t be able to breathe, swallow, drink, eat, or digest your food. Our cells won’t get the glucose for energy, amino acids for protein and toxins wouldn’t be removed from our blood.

Some Digestive Enzyme Facts:

  • Enzymes are proteins made by cells in our bodies and all living organisms.
  • Enzymes exist in all raw food.  All raw foods, including meats, have some enzyme activity.
  • The more raw food you eat, the less digestive enzymes your body needs to produce.
  • Cooking or other types of processing destroys enzyme activity.
  • Digestive enzymes, used properly, can provide a substantial benefit to most everyone, especially those consuming a great deal of cooked or processed food.

Enzyme Deficiency

Poor dietary habits, fast food consumption, and excessive intake of fat and sugars, all require excessive amounts of enzymes to digest our foods. Over eating foods that are void of enzymes (processed pre-packaged foods) and eating too much food results in a depletion of enzymes in the body. In particular, there is strain put on the pancreas to secrete greater amounts of enzymes than normal. The result is an exhausted pancreas. To reduce the load on the pancreas, the immune system lends its white blood cells which have stores of enzymes to aid in the digestive process. The result of this is impaired immune function. By ensuring our body has sufficient enzymes not only supports the digestive process, but the immune system as well.

Eating a food or food group too frequently will also contribute to an enzyme deficiency. Foods that are more likely to cause allergies/sensitivities are the ones that are consumed the most: eggs, wheat/gluten, milk, corn and soy. When these foods are consumed several times a day for years it creates an enzyme deficiency for that food and the body can no longer break down the proteins or starches and causes a reaction when the peptides enter our bloodstream.

When food is properly digested, it is broken down into substances that the body recognizes and can utilize. If food molecules are not broken down into their smallest form (by enzymes) when they enter the bloodstream the body recognizes them as foreign invaders and attacks. When the body no longer can handle the overload of food that it cannot properly digest and utilize, the result is food allergies and intolerance, indigestion, gas, bloating, heartburn, constipation, and diarrhea. There are other symptoms of our body’s imbalance from incomplete digestion such as asthma, environmental allergies/sensitivities, candida over-growth, arthritis, obesity, eczema, fatigue, headaches, and hyperactivity.

One digestive enzyme that tends to be insufficient in a lot of ASD kids, as well as kids with ADHD, is DDP4 (dipeptidyl peptidase-IV).  This enzyme is found in the gut and is responsible for breaking a bond between amino acids in peptides formed during protein digestion. Problems occur when there is a lack of DDP4 which causes incomplete digestion of the gluten (wheat) and casein (dairy) molecules, leaving a mischievous peptide. In the case of damaged or leaky guts, these peptides called gluteomorphin (gluten) and caseomorphin (casein) can pass into the blood, where they do harm because they evoke an immune response. They can also mimic endorphins that cause changes in perception, mood, and behavior.  This is one reason why the gf/cf (gluten-free/casein free) diet is so effective in reducing behaviors in kids with autism. It’s the elimination of the offending peptides from the diet.

Types of Enzymes

  • Amylase  – breaks down carbohydrates, starches, and sugars (found in fruits, vegetables, potatoes and a lot of snack foods)
  • Protease  – breaks down proteins (found in meats, eggs, cheese, and nuts)
  • Lipase  –   breaks down fats (found in most dairy products, meats, oils, and nuts)
  • Cellulase  – breaks down cellulose, plant fiber

When one supplements digestive enzymes, plant derived enzymes are the most effective. They are obtained from the lysosomes of live plant cells.  They are more effective because they can survive the acidic environment in the stomach and different PH levels in the small intestines. Animal derived digestive enzymes that mimic our pancreatic enzymes only survive in the alkaline environment of our small intestine.

Digestive Health & Foods That Support It

In order to keep our digestive and overall health at its best, eating more raw vegetables, nuts, and fruits is important. Papaya and pineapple are the best sources of foods that contain naturally occurring digestive enzymes. Papaya contains the naturally occurring digestive enzyme papain, which helps to digest protein. Pineapples contain the digestive enzyme bromelain, which acts as an aid for indigestion. Pineapples also contain multiple anti-inflammatory enzymes. Mangos, watermelon, blueberries, raspberries and grapefruit also contain naturally occurring digestive enzymes.  Parsley, kale, broccoli, celery, cabbage and beets and beet greens are excellent choices for raw vegetables that contain naturally occurring digestive enzymes. Wheat grass and aloe vera  juice contain a lot of enzymes.

All raw food contain digestive enzymes; naturally fruits and vegetables are excellent sources. Some smart fruit choices are  fresh apples, figs, pears, cherries, peaches, strawberries and apricots. For vegetables, all of the bell peppers: red, yellow, green and orange, as well as tomatoes, are excellent choices.

Balancing your meal with raw foods in addition to cooked foods can assist your body in the digestive process, just as the quarterback balances out the game with running plays, passing or handing off the football. For example, a salad or raw veggies along with your steak or chicken breast will help ease the demand on your body to release digestive enzymes since the veggies in the salad contain enzymes. Same goes for the quarterback when he hands the football off to the running back; which saves his throwing arm and reduces the risk of interceptions.

For more information on using digestive enzymes for your child, refer to my page on enzymes.

https://healingautismandadhd.wordpress.com/diet-2/digestive-enzymes/

Essential Fatty Acids and Why We Need Them

Omega-3 and omega-6 are considered “essential fatty acids” (EFA) because our bodies need them for building healthy cells, and maintaining nerve and brain function. Our bodies can’t produce EFAs, so our only source is from food. This is one area where your diet will greatly affect the balance of omega-3 vs. omega-6 and your overall health. Essential fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that can protect us from diseases likes type-2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and age-related brain decline.

Omega-6 fatty acids primarily comes in the form of linoleic acid from plant oils. The main source that the western diet provides these are in the form of corn oil, soybean oil, and sunflower oil. But the healthier source of omega-6 should come from seeds and nuts. We really should only be getting 5%-10% of our food calories from omega-6 fatty acids in our diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids come from fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna. Unfortunately, with our polluted oceans, tuna and mackerel contain unsafe levels of mercury, and other contaminates, while salmon is only best as wild caught Alaskan salmon. There are other sources such as flaxseed, walnuts and green leafy vegetables. Flaxseed oil, for example, contains about 55% omega-3 fats. Canola oil has about 10%.

All of these foods are healthy choices, but there’s still some debate about whether they have all the benefits of fish oil. The reason: the omega-3 in flax, canola, walnuts, and other vegetable sources are in the form of alpha linoleic acid, or ALA. Although the body can convert some ALA to EPA and DHA, the two forms of omega-3 fats with proven heart protection benefits, it’s not clear how much is converted. Diets high in omega-6 fats interfere with the conversion of ALA to DHA in omega-3s.  As you age that conversion becomes even more inefficient, at a time when your brain and nerves really need the protective benefits from EPA and DHA.

Omega-6 fatty acids compete with omega-3 in the body, so the ratio of these two forms of polyunsaturated fats is very important. We need more omega-3 in a ratio of 1:1 to 1:4 (omega-6:omega-3).  With all the fast food, prepared convenient foods and packaged foods in the America diet, this ratio is way off since it’s flooded with omega-6 fatty acids in the form of vegetable oils such as corn and safflower oil.

So if you don’t eat fish, or want to limit the amount you eat due to exposure to toxins, a supplement is recommended in the form of omega-3 that is high in DHA.

BENEFITS OF EFAs

Essential Fatty Acids, particularly Omega-3s (high in DHA) supports brain function with focus, concentration and mood. About two-thirds of the brain is composed of fats. Myelin, the protective sheath that covers communicating neurons, is composed of 30% protein and 70% fat. DHA reduces oxidative stress, enhances learning and memory, and is the most abundant omega-3 fatty acid in cell membranes within the brain. Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and the primary building material for cell membranes, which let nutrients in and toxins out.

  • Our bodies cannot produce Omega fatty acids, so we must get them through our diet and supplementation.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are utilized by our eyes, brain, heart, joints, digestive system and many other tissues and systems.
  • Omega-3 improves your ability to concentrate as well as your energy level.
  • Omega-3s in the form of DHA are beneficial to kids and adults with ADHD or autism.
  • Through it’s anti-inflammatory effects, cod liver oil is a promising treatment for arthritis sufferers.
  • The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oils keep platelets in the blood from sticking together, which reduces blood clotting and lowers the risk for heart attacks. They may also provide protection by reducing inflammation in the blood vessels.
  • Omega-3s help with mood disorders, such as depression.
  • Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and omega-6s are pro-inflammatory. Diseases like heart disease, cancer, type-2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s thrive on cell inflammation. Diets rich in omega-3s reduce inflammation and disease risk.
  • Grass-fed cattle are higher in omega-3s vs. omega-6s.  Conventional beef is fed diets high in omega-6s with grains like corn and soybeans.  Organic beef doesn’t necessarily mean they are grass-fed, which is the type of beef we should be consuming. It just means the grains they are fed are organically grown.

Our family has reduced our intake of omega-6s and eat a diet richer in omega-3s, yet we still take a dietary supplement of omega-3 fatty acids in the form of DHA.  Remember, our bodies may not be efficient at converting enough of the ALA (from EFAs) to DHA.

An informative source with a great list of FAQs on this subject is the DHA/EPA Omega-3 Institute.

http://www.dhaomega3.org/

 

My favorite mineral: Magnesium

Everyone in our family takes a magnesium supplement in addition to the magnesium we get from our diet. Magnesium is an essential mineral, which means our body needs it to function. We get it from our diet or with supplements. 

Lack of magnesium may lead to irritability, muscle weakness, and irregular heartbeat. Every organ in the body — especially the heart, muscles, and kidneys — needs the mineral magnesium. It also contributes to the makeup of teeth and bones. Most important, it activates enzymes, contributes to energy production, and helps regulate calcium levels as well as copper, zinc, potassium, vitamin D, and other important nutrients in the body.

Certain medical conditions, however, can upset the body’s magnesium balance. For example, an intestinal virus that causes vomiting or diarrhea can cause temporary magnesium deficiencies. Some gastrointestinal diseases (such as irritable bowel syndrome or IBS and ulcerative colitis), diabetes, pancreatitis, hyperthyroidism (high thyroid hormone levels), kidney disease, and taking diuretics can lead to deficiencies. Too much coffee, soda, salt, or alcohol as well as heavy menstrual periods, excessive sweating, and prolonged stress can also lower magnesium levels. Children on the autism spectrum tend to be low in magnesium due to digestive issues and diet.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency may include:

  • agitation and anxiety
  • restless leg syndrome (RLS)
  • sleep disorders
  • irritability
  • nausea and vomiting
  • abnormal heart rhythms, low blood pressure
  • confusion
  • muscle spasm and weakness
  • hyperventilation
  • insomnia
  • poor nail growth

Magnesium will:

  • relax nerve impulses and muscle contractions
  • promote relaxation; aid in restful sleep
  • help lower blood pressure
  • keep your bones strong (especially when taken with calcium)
  • keep your heart healthy by lowering cholesterol
  • relieve symptoms of menopause and PMS
  • help the body absorb calcium and potassium

Fibromyalgia – A small preliminary clinical study of 24 people with fibromyalgia suggest that a proprietary tablet containing both malic acid and magnesium may improve pain and tenderness associated with fibromyalgia when taken for at least 2 months. Other studies suggest the combination of calcium and magnesium may be helpful for some people with fibromyalgia. Magnesium has been shown to relieve muscle pain and fatigue in individuals with Fibromyalgia.

Migraine headache – A few studies suggest that taking magnesium supplements may help prevent migraine headaches. In addition, a few clinical studies suggest that magnesium supplements may shorten the duration of a migraine and reduce the amount of medication needed. People who have migraine headaches tend to have lower levels of magnesium compared to those with tension headaches or no headaches at all.  Some experts suggest combining magnesium with the herb feverfew along with vitamin B2 (riboflavin) may be helpful when you have a headache.

Type 2 Diabetes – It is estimated that up to 80 percent of those with type 2 diabetes have a magnesium deficiency. High glucose levels, in patients with Type 2 Diabetes, will cause the body to flush magnesium from its system. In a recent study, people with diabetes who took magnesium supplements had improved insulin and glucose levels.

Heart Disease – “Magnesium does a heart good”. People with heart conditions, including heart attacks, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms and coronary artery disease, tend to be magnesium deficient. Studies show that people with low amounts of magnesium in the body have double the risk of developing coronary heart disease, and that magnesium supplementation can lower cholesterol by as much as 20 percent. Magnesium supplementation can increase individuals’ magnesium levels and minimize the risks associated with heart disease.

DIET: The best dietary sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, nuts, peas, beans, and cereal grains in which the germ or outer layers have not been removed.  For example, spinach (1 cup) and pumpkin seeds (1 ounce) will provide about 157 mg.; long grain brown rice (1 cup) provides 84 mg.; 1/2 fillet of wild fresh salmon contains 59 mg. For a list of foods rich in magnesium, the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements has a list: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/magnesium#h2

A diet high in fat may cause less magnesium to be absorbed. Cooking may decrease the magnesium content of food.

Diets that provide plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are good sources of potassium and magnesium, are consistently associated with lower blood pressure. The DASH study (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) suggested that high blood pressure could be significantly lowered by a diet high in magnesium, potassium, and calcium, and low in sodium and fat.  Evidence suggests that magnesium may play an important role in regulating blood pressure.

The U.S. RDA of magnesium intake for children 4 – 10 yrs is between 120 – 170 mg/day; adults between 270 – 400 mg./day.

To supplement your diet with magnesium, there are various forms of magnesium to choose from.

TYPE OF MAGNESIUM: Magnesium citrate, oxide, glycinate, and sulfate. For constipation, people use magnesium citrate, but for a good supplement for bodily functions without diarrhea, we use magnesium glycinate.

The various forms of magnesium will affect the digestive tract differently. Below are some guidelines on how your body may react to types of magnesium:

  • oxide:  tends to firm stools
  • glycinate:  a very gentle form of magnesium that is easier on the system
  • citrate:  tends to loosen stools
  • sulfate:  tends to loosen stools
  • chloride:  tends to loosen stools

Magnesium sulfate – Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate. Be sure to buy USP (U.S.Pharmaceutical grade). You can get them at the Dollar store, grocery.drug store and Costco. Epsom salts will:

  • ease stress and improve sleep
  • reduce inflammation and relieve muscle pain/cramps
  • flush out toxins
  • help prevent or ease migraine headaches

When given an Epsom salt bath, the magnesium and sulfate in the salts are absorbed into the body through the skin.  Sulfate is thought to circulate in the body up to about nine hours. Any Epsom salts left on the skin may continue to be absorbed as long as it is still on the skin, offering continuous ‘timed-released’ input into the bloodstream.  I put 1.5 to 2 cups of Epsom salts in hot bath water to dissolve and then add the cold water to balance the temperature. Soak for about 15 minutes before using natural soaps or shampoos. Others add baking soda and lavender oil to enhance the relaxation effects.  You can also do a foot bath of hot water and Epsom Salts for 15 minutes while watching TV/reading before bed.

Cuckoo for Coconut Kefir

I have heard parent’s success stories about helping their child with autism recover with diet and the healing benefits of coconut kefir. So I researched it and found that it is a rockin’ probiotic drink and offers much more than good gut health. Here is the dish on this hard to find, expensive drink.

True coconut kefir is derived from young, green, coconuts from Thailand. (1st obstacle in making this drink) The coconut water is combined with kefir starter to create a nutritionally dense, probiotic rich, non-dairy, drink.

What is Kefir?

Kefir is a starter culture made from gelatinous white or yellow particles called “grains”. The grains ferment the milk incorporating their beneficial yeast as well as friendly “probiotic” bacteria, to create the “cultured” product. The grains are then removed (by straining) before consumption and can be used again.

The naturally occurring bacteria and yeast in kefir combine symbiotically (I love that word!) to provide excellent health benefits when consumed regularly.

Kefir can be made from any type of milk, cow, goat, coconut, soy, or rice. For the lactose intolerant population that cannot digest cow or goat milk, kefir provides lactase, an enzyme that consumes the left over lactose after the culturing process. Therefore, lactose intolerance should not stop anyone from consuming kefir dairy products.

What is the Difference Between Coconut Water and Coconut Milk?

This one had me so confused. From what I’ve researched, coconut water is the liquid that comes from the young, green, coconuts. Coconut milk is derived from extracting the meat of the mature coconut which contains a lot of fat and calories. This fat is not as bad as it sounds though. Coconut oil is 92% saturated fat. Don’t freak out yet! It’s approximately 65% (two-thirds) medium chain fatty acids (MFCA). Most all other fats and oils (saturated and unsaturated, plant or animal based) are mostly long chained fatty acids (LCFA). LCFAs are the fats that accumulate in your fat cells, and clogs your arteries. Your body needs pancreatic digestive enzymes and bile to digest LCFAs and they circulate in your entire body. MCFA rich coconut oil/milk does not need these enzymes or bile to digest. They are readily digested and go straight to your liver, boosting your metabolism.

Benefits of Coconut Water Kefir

  • It increases energy and provides a feeling of good overall health
  • Aids in digestion, heals the gut with high levels of probiotics
  • Reduces sugar cravings
  • Contains high levels of minerals like potassium
  • It cleanses the liver
  • Eases aches and joint pain
  • Improves skin tone and complexion. Will help with acne, age spots, skin tags, moles & warts
  • Strengthens hair, skin and nails
  • Beneficial effects on the endocrine system (thyroid, adrenals, pituitary, ovaries)

Where to Purchase Coconut Kefir

So now you want to know where to get coconut water kefir, right? Well, there are not a lot of companies out there that sell it already in its cultured state. You can purchase young, green, coconuts and use a kefir starter culture to make your own. Or pay a lot of money having it shipped to you from the handful of companies out there that make it.

I found two sources of true coconut water kefir on the internet that I would trust. Body Ecology sells their brand of CocoBiotic beverage for $28.98 for a 44 oz. bottle and $14.95 for an 8 oz. travel size bottle. They also sell their starter culture packets if you want to buy young, green, coconuts and make your own coconut water kefir. A box of 6 packets cost $26.95 and each packet can be used an average of 7 times each. Their website is http://www.bodyecology.com.

The other source that was brought to my attention is CocoKefir. This company was founded by Michael and Holly Larsen whose daughter was diagnosed with autism.They credit her recovery in part to the implementation of a biomedical approach to healing her gut first, which in turn helped heal her mind. They sell their 16 oz. CocoKefir bottle for $9.99. That’s $0.62 per ounce vs. Body Ecology’s 44 oz. bottle at $0.66 per ounce, and their 8 oz. bottle cost $1.87 per ounce. Their website is http://www.cocokefir.com.

There is a third option out there. It’s not coconut water kefir, it’s cultured coconut milk. Remember the difference, water comes from young, green, coconuts and the milk is derived from the meat of mature coconuts. But the milk has the MCFAs, of which the water does not. So Delicious makes Cultured Coconut Milk with prebiotics and probiotics, made from organic coconuts. They have original (unflavored), chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. The original one is best since it does not contain any added sugars that only feed the bad bacteria and yeast in our gut. A 32 oz. bottle sells for less than $4.00 and can be found at Whole Foods. You may find it in your local grocery store, but I’m not sure the cost.  We have tried it and we have noticed benefits from drinking it. Digestion has improved, the obvious benefits from the prebiotics and probiotics, plus it gives us more energy. I like it mixed with a little orange juice, but my sons will only drink it in a smoothie. I know I’m adding fructose from the fruits I mix into it, but it still has helped them tremendously.

I am purchasing a bottle of the Cocobiotic coconut water kefir and plan on seeing if we experience a true difference from drinking the So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk. I’ll keep you posted on the results. If anyone has experience with these products or has other information to share, please comment below.

To watch Michael Larsen of CocoKefir interviewed on Fox & Friends click below:

http://youtu.be/cfmNhA_D3mQ

Recall on Alcohol Prep Pads (B12 shot users!)

The FDA announced that Triad has issued a voluntary nationwide recall on all lots of alcohol prep pads, swabs, and swabsticks due to potential microbial contamination. (see link for FDA recall info) The pads are sold under the manufacturers’ name Triad and other companies like Walgreen and CVS to name a few.

http://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls/ucm239219.HTM

http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm239319.htm

Alcohol prep pads are used to disinfect before an injection. Most parents that give their child with autism methyl-B12 shots use these pads and may not be aware of the recall. I didn’t know about it until my friend Shannon Penrod called me to tell me about. She gives her son methyl-B12 shots, as do I, and had a box of the recalled prep pads. The concerning part is that the pads brand name was NOT on the FDA list. She was alerted to the recall because she read about parents suing Triad for the death of their toddler. Read the story here:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41588330/

Shannon’s son had just been given his B12 shot using this alcohol pad to disinfect the area. That night he woke up and had nausea and vomiting with fever. These are the symptoms of a stomach virus and also of exposure to Bacillus Cereus.  This bacteria is typically found in rare food poisoning outbreaks, and was found to contaminate the Triad prep pads, swabs and swabsticks forcing the recall.

Needless to say, she was very concerned when she read the story on AOL that morning. She called the phone number on the box of prep pads to ask if it was in the recall and it was…even though it wasn’t on the list. The manufacturer will have the most updated list of products involved in the recall, so always check with them. This bacteria would be devastating for people with compromised immune systems.

Thankfully we do not purchase alcohol prep pads, even though they are very convenient. I prefer to use rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball to disinfect my son’s skin before a B12 shot.

Please spread the word to people who give injections to themselves or a child; whether it’s someone with autism getting B12 shots, a diabetic or cancer patients.  By the way, thankfully Shannon’s son recovered and is fine.  But she still doesn’t know if it was a stomach virus or contamination from the prep pad.  Want to know the really scary part? My friend’s pediatrician did not know about the recall and went to check their inventory immediately.

Related posts:

https://healingautismandadhd.wordpress.com/2010/04/14/vitamin-b12-our-miracle-supplement/

Do You Get Enough Vitamin C In Your Diet?

Is it possible to get too much vitamin C? Yes, but it’s also possible that you may not be getting enough to support important immune functions in your body. I happen to love this vitamin. It does so much for our health and is readily available in so many fruits and vegetables.  The RDA of vitamin C is 75 – 90 mg/day for adults, but as in most RDA for vitamins and minerals, it is not enough to keep your blood levels high.

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water and are not stored in the body.  They are eliminated in our urine, so excess amounts are excreted, thus overdose is not a concern. But it’s still important not to exceed the safe upper limit of 2,000 milligrams a day to avoid stomach upset and diarrhea.

Our bodies cannot make vitamin C. In order to reap the health benefits of vitamin C, you must have a continual supply in your diet, or take a dietary supplement.

Eating vitamin C-rich foods is the best method to ensure an adequate intake of this vitamin. While many common foods contain vitamin C, the best food sources are citrus fruits. One orange, a kiwi fruit, 6 oz. of grapefruit juice or 1/3 cup of chopped sweet red pepper each supply enough vitamin C for one day.

Still, American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Dee Sandquist, RD, suggests doing your best to work more fruits and vegetables into your diet before taking supplements.

“Strive to eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily, because you will get a healthy dose of vitamin C along with an abundance of other vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that are good for disease prevention and overall health,” she says.

Here are all the foods and beverages you’d need to consume in a day to reach 500 milligrams (mg):

  • Cantaloupe, 1 cup: 59 mg Vitamin C
  • Orange juice, 1 cup: 97 mg
  • Broccoli, cooked, 1 cup: 74 mg
  • Red cabbage, 1/2 cup: 40 mg
  • Green pepper, 1/2 cup, 60 mg
  • Red pepper, 1/2 cup, 95 mg
  • Kiwi, 1 medium: 70 mg
  • Tomato juice, 1 cup: 45 mg

I know what you are thinking. Most Americans eat on the go, fast food, or simple don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables a day to get 50 mg of vitamin C, let alone 500 mg. Especially parents of special needs kids and their picky eating habits. I know only one friend that has her son eat this many vegetables a day, and he is also on the gf/cf diet.  She is one smart cookie and started him out at a young age eating fruits and vegetables. I wish I’d done that with my sons at an early age. I am now struggling with getting my son with autism to try new fruits and vegetables. My older son’s palate is much more daring and he likes to try a variety of new recipes; even if they include vegetables. But since vitamin C is water-soluble, veggies lose its vitamin C when cooked. Raw veggies are best, but sometimes just not a reality for most families.

Why do we need vitamin C?

The body needs this vitamin to keep it in good working order. Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C helps hold body cells together, aids in wound healing, assists in bone and tooth formation, strengthens the blood vessel walls, is vital for the function of the immune system, and improves absorption and utilization of iron. It is also a natural anti-histamine.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant and it works with vitamin E as a free-radical scavenger. Studies suggest that vitamin C reduces the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, stroke, and cataracts.

Stress reduces our bodies vitamin C supply. Vitamin C can benefit individuals whose immune system is weakened by stress. Because it is one of the nutrients sensitive to stress, it is the first nutrient to be depleted in alcoholics, smokers and obese individuals.

Vitamin C is heavily concentrated in the brain and crucial to brain function. The earliest signs of deficiency is confusion and depression. Studies have shown vitamin C to improve cognition and alertness.

Vitamin C supplements are plentiful on the market. Something you should consider is the source of the vitamin. Most vitamin C supplements are derived from corn. This created a problem for my oldest son since he showed an allergy to corn. I found a corn and citrus-free version by Twinlabs called Allergy C. It’s made from sago palm. Keep in mind that sago palm contains salicylates if your child reacts to them. I give it with the morning digestive enzyme TriEnza that contains No Phenol digestive enzyme.

I give my son with autism a vitamin C supplement. He gets 250 mg in the morning and another 250 mg after school. This helps maintain a more even blood level than taking all 500 mg at once. When he is sick with a cold I up the dose to 750-1,000 mg/day. He takes a corn-based supplement since he has phenol sensitivity and no allergy to corn.

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