Allergies : Springtime Allergies? Try Vitamin C

Now that winter is finally behind us, the trees, flowers, and grasses will start to bloom -- and people who suffer from seasonal allergies will begin their annual ritual of sneezing, sniffling, and feeling downright lousy. If you're one of 35 million Americans with seasonal allergic rhinitis (also known as hay fever), relief is natural, inexpensive, and as convenient as your local supplement aisle.

Hay fever is an allergy to proteins in the pollen of trees, grasses, mold, and some plants that affects the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and air passages. Symptoms include itchy, watery eyes; sneezing; irritability; a runny nose; and fatigue that can leave you feeling wiped out for weeks on end.

There are actually three hay fever seasons, each distinguished by the types of pollen present. Tree pollens are released first, usually between February and May, and then allergy sufferers get a triple whammy come late spring and early summer, when trees, weeds, and grass pollens are all out at the same time. Last but not least, fall is ragweed season.

When symptoms strike, some people with seasonal allergies reach for prescription or over-the-counter antihistamines. However, the side effects of antihistamines can include drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, moodiness, and confusion. Fortunately, there's a natural antihistamine that not only helps to control symptoms but also boosts immunity -- vitamin C.

Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine, and research suggests that it may help reduce allergy symptoms. "Vitamin C is the most important anti-allergy vitamin," says Patrick Holford, author of Good Medicine. "It is a powerful promoter of a strong immune system and it immediately calms down allergic reactions. It is also anti-inflammatory." He recommends that everyone takes a minimum of 1,000 mg of vitamin C per day, and 2,000 mg or more may be appropriate if you have seasonal allergies.

If you suffer from hay fever, look for hypoallergenic supplements. Also consider a vitamin C formula that contains bioflavonoids, plant components that are also shown to provide allergy relief by inhibiting the cells responsible for releasing histamine. Bioflavonoids are also anti-inflammatory.

The safe, effective way to tackle seasonal allergies is the natural way. Vitamin C will help control symptoms and normalize immune function -- without the undesirable side effects of other antihistamines.

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