Do people who take vitamins recover faster from the flu and produce a more significant immune response?
Flu, also commonly known as influenza or Grippe, is a virus disease that attacks by infecting the respiratory system, nervous or gastrointestinal system (stomach flu). Rarely fatal, it often opens the door to Pneumonia, Eye and Ear infections and Brian inflammation that do threaten life. Common colds are usually confused with Influenza, in view of both these ailments attacking the upper respiratory system and showing similar symptoms. In fact they are both caused by different viruses. The worst catastrophe was a devastating world-wide epidemic (pandemic) of Influenza stuck during the summer-winter of 1918 taking the total death toll to about 10 million which included a half-million in the United States of America alone. Actually Influenza virus is around, most of the time harbored by many human beings. They indeed fall ill when their resistance is lowered. Epidemics begin when circumstances to the spread of Flu virus are favorable. There are 3 types of Flu virus. They are A, B and C. A type of flu is the most severe and sometimes fatal among these, usually affects the adults. Individuals that are healthy, seldom need diagnosis by a physician, unless of course, he has been haunted by the Flu for over few weeks or the disease itself is very severe in attack.
Usually in a strong immune system the Flu weans away after a few days or weeks, leaving no traces. But when a person’s defense system of the body or the immune system is weakened, the flue takes over and complicates the body’s condition.
In such situations, the healthcare professionals or the physicians advise complete bed–rest, with adequate intake of fluids, supplemented by good nutritious food for a speedy recovery in order to prevent dehydrated conditions. “Feed” the cold and “fast” the fever. The big question here is, whether proper diet taken along with medicines is sufficient for cure and relief from Flu. There is an argument that adequate intake of vitamins on the other hand is very useful for a faster recovery from flu and contributes to significant immune response.
Harri Hemila, an author-professor affirms that it does not make any sense to administer vitamin C on every single day hoping for reducing the chances of getting afflicted with Flu and cold. However, using vitamin C is justifiable if the person already contracted with cold and flu or physical stresses. But then, this theory also needs more research to confirm these results.
According to Catherine Collins, a registered dietician at the British Dietetic Association, the optimum intake of vitamin C, per day, should be 200 mg which indeed helps the immune system in a Flu-affected person. She claims that this could also be obtained from out of vegetables and fruits, adequately eaten every single day and that any over dose of vitamin C does not get absorbed into the body but will be removed. Mrs. Collins further stated that, although the vitamin C is useful for white blood cells for fighting the infections, no proper evidence is available suggesting that vitamin C could be useful as a preventive for Flu and cold. Mrs. Collins further avers that it might sound feasible, biologically, to most that since vitamin C helps strengthen the immune system, it also prevents any illness from occurring, and that there is no conclusive proof to that thought. Vitamin C is needed for a healthy immune system but then, one could always get it out of fruits and vegetables that he eats in the regular diet in order to derive the benefit of getting other important nutrients, anti-oxidants and fiber. It is reiterated that no scientifically supported evidence is available for the theory that consuming large doses of vitamin C could be effective in preventing or reducing the symptoms of Flu. Nevertheless, the intake of dietary supplements ensures getting adequate vitamin C on any day on which sufficient fruits and vegetables are not consumed. Vitamin E taken orally could have a protective effect against the Flu (which infects the upper respiratory tract). The intake of vitamin E is to be cautiously administered in view of possibility of certain adverse effects like increased bleeding and drug interactions. Pregnant and Breast-feeding women should take vitamin C only under the supervision of a doctor. Ascorbic acid or Vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin, is quite necessary for the body in the formation of collagen in bones, cartilage, muscle and blood vessels and helps absorption of iron. Although the scientific research generally indicates that vitamin C does not help prevent the Flu symptoms, there is a school of thought amongst the people that live in certain extreme conditions or circumstances (like Soldiers, Marathon runners and skiers) run a reduced risk of contracting with Flu by about 50%, reportedly. However this warrants an additional study. It is observed that consumption of large doses of vitamin C could lead to diarrhea, gastrointestinal upset and vaginal yeast infections in sensitive women population.
It is recommended that in spite of taking the Flu vaccine, vitamin C and vitamin D should be taken in high dosage, since these health supplements have been proved to be effective in the prevention and treatment of Flu.
An extremely important vitamin that is quite effective in post Flu regimen is vitamin A, because the Flu virus reduces the vitamin A levels that are stored in the body.
However, an expert health professional’s advice should be sought when the Flu-affected person is required to take vitamin A over a long period of time in non-mycelized form, since this can be potentially toxic. Because mycelized A, is a form of vitamin A, taken in high dosage for short duration is remarkably effective.
According to a study published in October, 1999 ( ref: journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics ), 1000 mg of vitamin C and Ascorbic acid taken, had a significant effect in reducing Flu symptoms in comparison with the usage of pain relievers and decongestants.
Study by Gorton HC and Jarvis k with an enlistment of 463 students between ages 18 and 30 as controls and 252 students belonging to the same age group as test subjects; has shown a remarkable result. The test subjects in 1991 were compared with controls in 1990 for similar symptoms of Flu and cold. While the controls were treated with pain relievers and decongestants, the subjects were administered with 1000 mg of vitamin C every hour for first six hours of reporting of symptoms of Flu; followed-up by three doses per day, for the next three days. Very significantly enough, the research showed that the reported Flu and cold symptoms decreased by 85% in the Test Group compared with the control group.
In conclusion, it is largely suggested by many a study group and research that intake of vitamins as supplements will only contribute to the building-up of resistance levels in the body to withstand the flue but does not build-up any immune system, as is generally assumed by the public. Vitamins do help the immune system but might not act as preventive or curative agents. The recovery from flu could be accelerated due to boost of resistance level in the body by the vitamins. Mega doses of vitamin C intake in both pre and post flu symptoms relieved and prevented the flu condition.