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Why is vitamin C useful for the immune system?

October 14, 2019 5 min read

When it comes to supporting one’s immune system, many people know that Vitamin C has long been viewed as a great vitamin for keeping people healthy and fighting off garden variety illnesses, such as the common cold. 

This important vitamin, also known as ascorbic acid, is not made by the human body.

Instead, all the Vitamin C we have we must either get from food or supplements. 

Fruit, in particular, provides a valuable source of Vitamin C for many people.

Research into the power of Vitamin C really took off when Albert Azent-Gyorgyi, a Nobel Prize winner, began to initiate efforts in the area.

Researchers quickly realized the powerful impact this vitamin can have on systems throughout the body. 

They began to discover how this vitamin influences the immune system and the body’s ability to fight off infections.

Colds might be common, but no one wants to have one. 

The discomfort and poor sleep can be frustrating. 

For small children, the elderly, and those dealing with respiratory disorders such as asthma, even common colds can be dangerous as well. 

Colds can lead to pneumonia and other complications. 

The better we understand how to avoid these colds, therefore, the better off we are.

Fortunately, studies have shown some incredible benefits of Vitamin C. 

Here is what you should know about this important vitamin and how it can help boost your immune system.

Understanding how Vitamin C helps the body

Vitamin C can help boost your immune system in a variety of ways. 

The immune system has two main parts. . 

  • The innate system, which is the part that you are born with, and 
  • The adaptive system, which develops as you grow up and your body is naturally exposed to different bacteria and viruses. 

As you encounter these germs, your body develops the cells needed to fight them off, which then remain with your body to fight off future attempted invasions from that particular germ.

Vitamin C has the incredible power to help both parts of the immune system. 

It provides support for the cells used in fighting diseases. 

The body uses the vitamin to help it fight off germs. 

In fact, as the body fights off bacteria and viruses, people can deplete their Vitamin C stores as the body uses the vitamin in the battle. 

That is why it remains important for people to continue to take the vitamin throughout the illness.

Despite the importance of this vitamin, up to  a quarter of Americans have low Vitamin C levels. 

These low levels hinder their ability to fight off infections. 

A number of culprits can contribute to lowered Vitamin C levels. 

As people age, for example, their body tends to have lower Vitamin C levels.

This contributes to the lower immune system abilities of the elderly, who tend to struggle more in fighting off illnesses. 

Other factors, including stress, certain diseases, and very unbalanced diets can all result in deficient levels of Vitamin C.

Fortunately, since  low Vitamin C levels can result in a poorly performing immune system, adding Vitamin C can boost their body’s ability to fight off illnesses.


How to boost your immune system with Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. 

This means that it does not get dissolved in fat, the way some other vitamins do. 

Instead, whatever the body does not use simply gets flushed out. 

This process protects the body from overdoses, but it also means that people have to regularly take their Vitamin C supplements to see an impact. 

Most people do not see side effects from Vitamin C. 

Some stomach irritation can occur at large dosages, but a properly dosed Vitamin C supplement will give the body the support it needs without causing discomfort.

Here are just a few ways Vitamin C can help your immune system.

Vitamin C can help your body heal

The first layer of your immune system is your skin. 

Many people forget about the importance of this part of your body when it comes to keeping you healthy. 

Skin helps to block countless bacteria and viruses from entering your body. 

Fortunately, Vitamin C can help support the immune system even at this very early stage.

Specifically, Vitamin C will help the body recover from injuries, including wounds on the skin. 

When the body has an injury, this vitamin helps to support the healing process, ensuring that the body rebuilds this primary defense against invaders as quickly as possible.

Vitamin C can help your body fight free radicals

Free radicals pose a dangerous threat to the health of all people. 

These x  free radicals bind to proteins and other molecules in cells and can also damage the cell’s DNA. These damaging free radicals occur for a variety of reasons, including exposure to pollution and other environmental causes. 

If these damaged molecules are not removed quickly, they can damage cells, tissues and organs leading to increased risks of many different diseases including cancers.

Fortunately, Vitamin C can help here as well. 

Vitamin C-- because it is an antioxidant, has been shown to soak up free radicals  and help keep the entire body healthier. 

The ability to soak up  free radicals helps to lower the risk of a number of different diseases.

Vitamin C can help your body fight off colds and similar illnesses

One of the most well-known impacts of Vitamin C is its’ ability to help fight off colds and similar illnesses. 

Researchers had long heard anecdotal stories and traditional health recipes, so they did  a number of studies on the impact of Vitamin C on illness to determine its’ health benefits. 

They found that those who took supplements of the vitamin were able to shorten the duration of cold symptoms. 

Other studies looked at how likely people were to develop colds in the first place and the severity of the illness. 

They found that those with high Vitamin C levels scored better in all of these different categories.

These studies also uncovered helpful information, including the idea that those who keep themselves in great physical shape, such as athletes, may find it easier to reap the benefits of these Vitamin C impacts. 

They also found that the impact on overall health and immunity can sometimes even work better in children than adults.

Vitamin C can boost the ability of immune system cells to fight off disease

Vitamin C can also provide immediate help to the immune system cells that help to specifically fight off the virus. 

Researchers explored what happens in the immune system of people who age. 

They found that as people get older, important parts of the immune system-- such as white blood cells-- do not work as well as they do in younger people.

Researchers also found that when these cells have high exposure to Vitamin C, however, their ability to perform their job is restored to a degree, resembling that of a significantly younger person.

This demonstrated to researchers that taking enough Vitamin C can help ensure that the body is ready to fight off infections.

When your common cold hits you this winter, you will probably automatically look for something that can help you feel better. 

Fortunately, there was some truth in what your mother used to tell you, eating fruit and taking extra Vitamin C can help support your immune system. 

It can help you get over your illness faster, lessen many of the symptoms, and keep you healthier in the long run. 

Consider adding a Vitamin C supplement to your diet and see how it can benefit you today.

Sources:

https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/types-of-vitamins-and-nutrients/how-vitamin-c-supports-a-healthy-immune-system

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29099763

https://www.health.harvard.edu/cold-and-flu/can-vitamin-c-prevent-a-cold

https://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2015/11/the-link-between-vitamin-c-and-optimal-immunity/page-01


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