Just to be clear, according to The Association of UK Dietitians, you cannot “boost” your immune system through diet, and no specific food or supplement can/will prevent you from catching COVID-19/Coronavirus. Good hygiene practice remains the best means of avoiding infection. Also, there is currently no evidence to suggest that the COVID-19 virus is transmitted when handling or preparing food. Please continue to follow general food safety advice; washing hands thoroughly, cleaning surfaces and separating raw meat/fish from other foods when preparing food.
There are many nutrients that are involved with the normal functioning of the immune system and therefore we would encourage maintaining a healthy adequate diet in order to support immune function (include copper, folate, iron, selenium, zinc and vitamins A, B6, B12, C and D). We, therefore, do not recommend any food over another but instead encourage eating a variety of foods to maintain a healthy adequate diet, especially foods of plant sources.
Are YOU getting your daily dose of the little-known Vitamin P?
What do broccoli, kale, red onions, hot peppers, rutabaga, spinach and watercress have in common? They’re all vegetables that top the charts, specifically the USDA Flavonoid Database, for their high bioflavonoid content. (1) As such, you should consume these bioflavonoid foods because they’ve been shown to have antiviral, anti-allergy, anti-inflammatory and antitumor abilities. (2)
Brief History of Vitamin P
Albert Szent-Györgyi, a Hungarian biochemist, discovered vitamin C and rutin (vitamin P). The role of these vitamins in the body and their application to dermatology is vast. For the discovery of vitamin C and the description of oxidation, Albert Szent-Györgyi received a Nobel Prize in medicine in 1937.
In 1936, it was found that Hungarian red pepper and lemon juice contained a factor that could increase capillary strength and reduce capillary permeability in man, but was not ascorbic acid. As a result of animal experiments, it was believed that the material responsible for these effects was a vitamin, and, because of its apparent effect on permeability and its presence in paprika, it was provisionally named vitamin P (Permeabilitiits-Vitamin). Different studies showed that vitamin P preparations are capable of increasing capillary resistance in cases of vascular purpura (purple spots on the skin caused by internal bleeding from small blood vessels).
What is ‘Vitamin P’?
‘Vitamin P’ is a collective term for a group of bioflavonoids or flavonoids. Although, they are no longer considered to be vitamins by the strict definition of that word. They mainly come from plant sources; fruits and vegetables. It is an antioxidant like Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E and they can rid the body of free radicals, toxic by-products of chemical reactions that take place in the body every day. ‘Vitamin P’ is a water-soluble vitamin. Fuels the body with life-changing botanical elements. ‘Vitamin P’ promotes Vitamin C usage and the intake by our body by enhancing the absorption and action in the body. It prevents Vitamin C from damage that might be caused by oxidation.
What foods are high in ‘Vitamin P’?
- Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and limes.
- Red and blue fruits such as blackberries, strawberries and blueberries are an excellent source of the flavonol known as anthocyanins.
- Black tea contains the flavonoids catechin and quercetin which help combat arterial stiffness.
- Ripe red tomatoes and green peppers contain the flavonoids quercetin and luteolin.
- Red leaf lettuce provides the flavonoid quercetin.
- Fresh kale and spinach are high in the flavonoid kaempferol.
- Red onions contain high amounts of the flavonols quercetin and isorhamnetin as well as smaller amounts of flavonols kaempferol and myricetin.
- Coriander is high in the flavonol quercetin.
- Fresh oregano, sage and thyme contain the flavonol quercetin and the flavones apigenin and luteolin.
- Parsley is very rich in the flavone apigenin and also contains luteolin, kaempferol, quercetin and myricetin.
- Fresh garden cress contains the flavonol kaempferol, and fresh dill provides good amounts of both kaempferol and the flavonol isorhamnetin.
- Red wine is rich in catechins and contains the powerful grape flavonols quercetin as well as the flavone luteolin.
- Teas — both green and black varieties — contain the flavonoids catechin, kaempferol and quercetin.
- And for hot chocolate lovers: Dark chocolate cocoa provides catechins.
Health benefits of ‘Vitamin P’
1. Increase proper blood circulation
Rich in flavonoids, oranges have been proven to increase circulation around the body as well as lowering both blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
2. Healthy blood vessels and heart
Black tea is another excellent source of Vitamin P which promotes greater heart health. Containing the two flavonoids known as flavonols and catechins, a recent study found that people who drank two mugs of black tea every day experienced reduced arterial stiffness which allows blood to pump blood more easily around the body. In contrast, those suffering from stiff and inflexible arteries are more at risk of strokes and heart attacks.
3. Blood glucose level monitoring
The flavanol known as anthocyanin (found in blue and red fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and grapes) appears to positively affect how carbohydrates are digested in how it limited the release of glucose in the bloodstream.
4. Skin health and anti-ageing
Vitamin P serves an equally important purpose for people by boosting the body’s production of collagen which helps keep skin looking plump and youthful.
Risk and Side effects
There are no consistent side effects that have been linked with bioflavonoids except for supplemental catechin, which can occasionally cause fever and anaemic symptoms from the breakdown of red blood cells and hives.
High intakes of dietary flavonoids are generally regarded as safe. However, we don’t recommend extra-large amounts of supplemental bioflavonoids, which might be harmful to your health rather than helpful. While obtaining bioflavonoids from food sources is very safe, getting you bioflavonoids from supplements is more controversial.
Some studies have linked large doses of bioflavonoids with childhood leukaemia. (3) To be on the safe safe side, it’s best to obtain your bioflavonoids from food rather than supplements, especially if you’re pregnant, nursing or a child.
Bioflavonoid supplements may affect the action of anticoagulants and increase the toxicity of a wide range of drugs when taken concurrently. Talk to your doctor before supplementing with bioflavonoids if you have any ongoing health concerns and currently taking other medications.
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