When life gives you lemons, increase your immunity with Vitamin C

By Nutrition Expert – Trupti Gurav,Mumbai.

Ascorbic Acid is a natural water-soluble vitamin also called as vitamin C. Ascorbic acid is a potent reducing and antioxidant agent that functions in fighting bacterial infections, in detoxifying reactions, and in the formation of collagen in fibrous tissue, teeth, bones, connective tissue, skin, and capillaries. 

Vitamin C contributes to immune defence by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system. (1)

The immune system is what protects your body from diseases and infections. It’s the bodily system that produces the immune response to defend your body from foreign substances, cells, and tissues. The immune system includes various parts of the body including the thymus, spleen, lymph nodes, special deposits of lymphoid tissue (such as those in the gastrointestinal tract and bone marrow) and macrophages, lymphocytes including the B cells and T cells, and antibodies.

Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) – has been shown to support a vast number of immune mechanisms in your body. For example, your white blood cells are an important component of your immune system. You have several different types of white blood cell, each of which helps to fight off illness-causing viruses and bacteria in a different way. Vitamin C helps to stimulate both the production and function of many of these types of white blood cells. It also helps your body to produce important antibodies: proteins that bind invading microbes to neutralise them. And Vitamin C’s powerful antioxidant properties help to protect certain white blood cells from the toxic compounds they produce in their fight against pathogens. In other words, Vitamin C is an essential nutrient. (2)

Reviewed Published by Marisa Moore (2019), concluded that vitamin C is essential for the growth and repair of tissue all over the body. Vitamin C helps heal wounds and repair and maintain healthy bones, teeth, skin and cartilage — a type of firm tissue that covers the bones. As an antioxidant, vitamin C fights free radicals in the body which may help prevent or delay certain cancers and heart disease, and promote healthy aging. (3)

Another study is by Anitra C. Carr in 2017, concluded that; Vitamin C appears to exert a multitude of beneficial effects on cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system. Although vitamin C is a potent antioxidant protecting the body against endogenous and exogenous oxidative challenges, it is likely that its action as a cofactor for numerous biosynthetic and gene regulatory enzymes plays a key role in its immune-modulating effects. (4)

Benefits of Vitamin C?

Vitamin C plays an important role in the growth and repair of tissue in all parts of your body.

The nutrient has been shown to:

  • Heal wounds and form scar tissue
  • Assist in the growth of healthy skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels
  • Repair and maintain cartilage, bones, and teeth
  • Also play a role in the Health development of cancer, heart disease, and arthritis. (5)

What causes vitamin C deficiency? (6, 7)

  • Seniors only consuming tea and toast diet.
  • A poor diet lacking in fresh fruits and vegetables, possibly due to low income or famine
  • Disorders of the GI tract like inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Iron overload which leads to wasting of vitamin C by the kidneys.
  • Illnesses such as anorexia and other mental health issues.
  • Older Age
  • Restrictive diets, due to allergies, difficulty orally ingesting foods, or other reasons
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol or use of illegal drugs

Recommendation of Vitamin C Intake (8)

When taken for general health, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin C as per Indian Standard is as follows:

The amount of vitamin C you need each day depends on your age. Average daily recommended amounts for different ages are listed below in milligrams (mg).

Life StageRecommended Amount( mg/d)
Birth to 6 months25 mg
Infants 7–12 months25 mg
Children 1–3 years40 mg
Children 4–8 years40 mg
Children 9–13 years40 mg
Teens 14–18 years (boys)40 mg
Teens 14–18 years (girls)40 mg
Adults (men)40 mg
Adults (women)40 mg
Pregnant women60 mg
Breastfeeding women80 mg

Sources of vitamin C

You can get recommended amounts of vitamin C by eating a variety of foods including the following:

  • Citrus fruits (such as oranges and grapefruit) and their juices, as well as red and green pepper and kiwifruit, which have a lot of vitamin C.
  • Other fruits and vegetables—such as broccoli, strawberries, cantaloupe, baked potatoes, and tomatoes—which also have vitamin C.
  • Some foods and beverages that are fortified with vitamin C. To find out if vitamin C has been added to a food product, check the product labels.

Vitamin C Supplements -Boosts immunity

One of the main reasons people take vitamin C supplements is to boost their immunity, as vitamin C is involved in many parts of the immune system.

  1. Vitamin C helps encourage the production of white blood cells known as lymphocytes and phagocytes, which help protect the body against infection.
  2. Vitamin C helps these white blood cells function more effectively while protecting them from damage by potentially harmful molecules, such as free radicals.
  3. Vitamin C is an essential part of the skin’s defence system. It’s actively transported to the skin, where it can act as an antioxidant and help strengthen the skin’s barriers.

References:

  1. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Ascorbic-acid
  2. https://www.nutralife.com.au/exactly-vitamin-c-help-immune-system-fight-off-colds-flu/
  3. https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/types-of-vitamins-and-nutrients/how-vitamin-c-supports-a-healthy-immune-system
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5707683/
  5. https://www.everydayhealth.com/drugs/ascorbic-acid
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493187/
  7. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/155758#causes
  8. http://cbseacademic.nic.in/web_material/Curriculum/Vocational/2018/Food%20Nutrition%20&%20Dietetics_XI.pdf
  9. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-Consumer/
  10. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-c-benefits#7.-Protects-your-memory-and-thinking-as-you-age

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