The Sugar vs. Vitamin C Battle

Dr. Linus Pauling, famous for his work with vitamin C, proved that our white blood cells need high levels of that vitamin to fight infection. If we want to derail a cold, we just need to ingest lots of C, right?

But there’s a problem with identity. “The molecules of vitamin C, glucose and fructose very closely resemble each other. …When you get a cold or other infection, white blood cells and macrophages go to work to rid the body of the invading bacteria or virus. Insulin transports the vitamin C into these cells so that they can scurry around and rid the body of the infectious agent. …If there is more glucose (sugar) around than there is vitamin C, insulin will preferentially allow the sugar to enter the cell.” Not good! (

So, how do we treat colds and flu? Lots of sugar-loaded orange juice, right? And candies called cough drops. And sweetened cough syrup. And slurping soft drinks to make our sore throats feel better.

Next time a cold comes along, bump up your C intake but not your sugar intake. Eat whole oranges and grapefruit. Sip lemon water. Use sugar-free cough drops. Have your spouse make you a steaming pot of chicken soup. Stay home from work. Give the C every opportunity to do its job of healing your body. Becky


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