A well known vitamin
Having a healthy immune system has been top of mind for many of us in the last couple of years, and for good reason. Many of us have heard of, or tried, a trick or two to try and improve immune function, especially during cold and flu season, but few of us are sure if they really work. Vitamin C is certainly a very popular one.
The reason Vitamin C is so well known as an immune booster comes from early research that demonstrated that those who do not have sufficient vitamin C in their diets, end up suffering from a variety of maladies, one of which is a weakened immune system and increased susceptibility to infection.
How Vitamin C Works
Vitamin C supports the immune system by several mechanisms:
- Protects the integrity of epithelial cells, which would make it harder for pathogens to enter
- Accumulates in certain white blood cells and improve the way they move and defend against pathogens
- Modulates the inflammatory response
- Reduces the amount of histamine released
- Acts a potent antioxidant that can minimize cellular damage from oxidation.
Another aspect is that during an infection, there is an increase in the need for vitamin C by the body, and since it is a water-soluble vitamin that cannot be stored, levels can drop quickly resulting in a deficiency. For this reason, studies have shown that supplementing Vitamin C during infections can replete the levels and help the body recover a bit faster, and ameliorate the severity of infections, such as colds, flus and pneumonia.
It also doesn’t take a whole lot of Vitamin C in order to have sufficient levels from the diet, it just has to be a steady, daily supply. A supplement need not necessarily provide a high dose of vitamin C to ensure that the average person has an adequate level of vitamin C. It’s also quite easy to get plenty of Vitamin C through foods, such as citrus, kiwi, berries, bell peppers, and greens.