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 leafy greens.
If you choose to supplement, you have a variety of types and formats to chose from; tablets, capsules, powders, and liquids. Ascorbic acid is probably the most commonly found type of vitamin C, which is the synthetic form, and you’ll see it not only in natural health products but also as additives in food to preserve freshness. Though it’s considered very safe for everyone, check in with a qualified healthcare practitioner to be sure that it’s an appropriate supplement for you.