ABC’s of Good Health

Vitamin C For Allergy Relief

Vitamin C For Allergy Relief

Allergens get extremely difficult to avoid during the summer months with pollen everywhere. Most doctors would give you antihistamines to help relieve symptoms but these can often leave you feeling drowsy. A natural alternative is Vitamin C which can help to relieve symptoms.

An estimated 21 million adults in the UK suffer from at least one allergy, with numbers continuing to rise year on year! Allergies are caused by an exaggerated immune response to substances that aren’t actually harmful to the body such as pollen, mould and dust. Both genetic and environmental factors play a role in this over sensitive immune response that causes itching, swelling skin irritation/rashes, coughing, runny noses and muscle spasms.

Avoiding the allergen itself is the best way to avoid symptoms however this can be incredibly difficult if the allergen is something like dust or pollen which you are inevitably going to come across in your daily life. If you go and visit your doctor, they will probably prescribe you an antihistamine tablet (these can also be purchased over the counter). They can be taken as tablets, in a liquid form, a nasal spray, or eye drops depending on the allergy and associated symptoms.

Antihistamines work by blocking histamine, a substance which is released by the immune system cells, which then attaches to the receptors in blood vessels, causing them to enlarge. Histamine also binds to other receptors causing other symptoms such as redness, swelling and itching. By blocking histamine and keeping it from binding to receptors, antihistamines prevent these symptoms.

While antihistamines can be effective at treating the symptoms of mild and seasonal allergies in particular, there are a number of potential side effects or issues associated with taking them. They can cause you to feel drowsy and cloud the thinking, but more significantly they do not stop the problem from happening in the first place, they just mask the symptoms.

There is however, a natural alternative: eating your antihistamines!

So what are these Superfoods?

Well, luckily, most of these foods are available in abundance at your local supermarket or greengrocers. For a change, East meets West on this topic, with both traditional western medicine and alternative health practitioners agreeing that nature’s top edible antihistamines are found in foods containing Vitamin C, and quercetin (a powerful flavonoid, known as called bioflavonoid). Additionally, there is much evidence that eating foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids reduces allergy symptoms.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is considered as one of nature’s great wonders. A natural antihistamine, Vitamin C works by destroying the molecular structure of histamine, thereby decreasing the amount of histamine in the blood. The absorption of Vitamin C is highly dependent on the amount ingested therefore it is recommended that more than 500mg per day is taken in through food or supplementation in order to achieve tissue saturation.

Research published in the European Respiratory Journal (2010) found that ingesting fruits high in Vitamin C helped to reduce asthma symptoms in 8 year olds. Research by Kompauer et al (2007) also found evidence to support the role of Vitamin C supplementation in adults who suffered from allergic rhinitis.

It has also been suggested that taking bioflavonoids alongside Vitamin C actually enhances the action of this vitamin which means that allergy relief symptoms will be even greater. Bioflavonoids can be added to a supplement form of Vitamin C and are also found in rose hips.

Foods rich in vitamin C should be eaten as soon as possible when fresh, as they lose their strength after being exposed to air, or being processed, boiled, or stored for long periods of time.

Taking a Vitamin C supplement may be a more practical way for those suffering from an allergy to up stores within the body on a daily basis. Essential Vitamin C is a premium quality tablet providing 1000mg of Vitamin C per tablet. Alternatively there are also powder forms available for anyone who dislikes or has trouble swallowing tablets.

References

  • Cathcart, R. F. (1986). The vitamin C treatment of allergy and the normally unprimedstate of antibodies. Medical Hypotheses 21(3) 307-321.
  • Kompauer,I.,  Heinrich, J., Wolfram, G., & Linseisen, J. (2007). Association of carotenoids, tocopherols and vitamin C in plasma with allergic rhinitis and allergic sensitisation inadults. Public Health Nutrition 9 (4) 472-479.
  • Willers,S. M., Wijga, A. H., Brunekreef, B., Scholtens, S. (2010). Childhood diet and asthma and atopy at 8 years of age: the PIAMA birth cohort study. European Respiratory Journal, 37 (5) 1060-1067.


Amy Brawn

Amy Brawn

Writer and expert

Social Executive for myvitamins, lover of dark chocolate and anything with blueberries! Dabbles in Shakespeare :P