Did you know that most animals and plants synthesize their own vitamin C from food they eat? This is accomplished via a biochemical pathway that employs 4 enzymes which convert glucose to vitamin C. In mammals (like humans), the glucose is extracted from glycogen, which is stored sugar, and transformed into vitamin C in the liver. We are not able to produce our own vitamin C and therefore we must consume it from from and supplements.
Adequate vitamin C is critical for overall health, collagen production and immune function among many other important functions. I wanted to share some other very fascinating facts about this critical nutrient.
We humans lack the L-gulonolactone oxidase enzyme which is critical for the last step of vitamin C synthesis.
In the late 1960’s, Linus Pauling discovered that white blood cells need very high doses of vitamin C in order to function effectively. His research demonstrated how high dose vitamin C could combat the common cold.
In the 1970’s, Dr. John Ely discovered the Glucose-Ascorbate-Antagonism (GAA) theory. Glucose and vitamin C have a very similar chemical makeup. Elevated glucose levels compete with and effectively restrict vitamin C from entering cells because glucose has a greater affinity for the insulin receptor. Both glucose and vitamin C depend upon the pancreatic hormone insulin and its signaling effects in order to get into cells.
What this means is that when there is too much sugar circulating in your blood it will prevent vitamin C from entering the cell. This is why we are told that eating too much sugary food will depress the immune system!
White blood cells may contain 20 times the amount of vitamin C as other cells and also have more insulin receptors than other cells. They also need 50 times more vitamin C inside the cell in order to deal with the oxidative stress that occurs when they encounter viruses, bacteria and cancer cells because when they encounter them they ingest (phagocytize) them. This is how they neutralize them. Elevated blood sugar damages and hinders this critical process. A blood sugar reading of 120 reduces this process by 75%!
I hope you learned something new about the importance of vitamin C and why reducing or eliminating excess sugar is so important for immune function.
Did any of these facts surprise you?
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