How Does Vitamin C Boost Your Immunity And Improve Your Health
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that assists in the formation and maintenance of bones, blood vessels, and skin while strengthening your immunity. This nutrient is found naturally in several foods, especially in fruits and vegetables. Additionally, vitamin C supplements are also available.
As one could expect, COVID-19 has forced people to focus more on protecting themselves from illnesses and infections by strengthening their immunity. This article reviews the impact vitamin C has on your immunity and health.
Vitamin C An Essential Nutrient
Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid is a water-soluble nutrient and antioxidant that can neutralize unstable compounds and help prevent or reverse cellular damage in our bodies. It is also involved in various biochemical processes related to immune health.
Major benefits of Vitamin C include:
The Impact of Vitamin C on Immunity
Vitamin C is a critical micronutrient. It contributes to your immune defense system by supporting multiple cellular functions of your bodys adaptive immune systems. Being an antioxidant, it can also fight free radicals in the body, thereby decreasing inflammation and boosting immunity. It can keep your skin healthy and enable it to act as a barrier against toxic compounds entering your body.
Best Zinc: Thorne Research Zinc Picolinate 30 Mg
Zinc is the only active ingredient
May be a higher dose than you need
Initial studies suggest that low zinc levels may be related to worse COVID-19 outcomes, but more research is needed.Zinc supplementation has been tested in conjunction with other medical treatments and has shown some promise in those who are hospitalized but not those who are in the intensive care unit. We also dont have enough evidence to support adding zinc supplements for those who get enough zinc through food, and high doses are not recommended.
Zinc is found in seafood, beef, beans, nuts, whole grains, and dairy products, and most people consume enough through food. However, vegetarians and vegans have higher zinc needs since phytates found in whole grains and beans may reduce absorption. Certain gastrointestinal disorders and some medications may also reduce absorption. In these cases, a supplement may be helpful to achieve optimal levels for immune support.
Thornes Zinc Picolinate 30 mg is a top choice for a zinc supplement. Many zinc supplements are paired with other nutrients, but this one provides zinc only, which helps ensure you dont overdo it with other nutrients you may not need. The 30mg dose is higher than the RDA of 11 mg for adults which means that even if you dont absorb the entire dose, youre still likely getting enough to meet your needs. Its also well below the UL of 40mgmany zinc supplements provide high doses over that UL that are not recommended.
Special Benefits Of Taking A High
As is clear from the evidence shared above, vitamin C is absolutely vital to our physiology in a 360-health kind of way.* Since it’s water-soluble , we must get the vitamin C we need each day through food and supplementation.*
People who find themselves calling out of work often may benefit from taking vitamin C daily for immune support.* As Carr explains, not feeling your best “results in decreased levels of vitamin C in the body and requires higher intakes of the vitamin to reach optimal status.”* Replenishing those stores of vitamin C daily will help your tissues and cells get the C they need when they need it.*
Vitamin C also supports collagen synthesis, so high-quality supplements are a great addition to your daily routine if you’re looking to support your skin health from the inside out.* And while targeted nutrition solutions for beauty are a growing area of research , truthfully, all of the health pathways and benefits listed above can be supported with an effective high-potency vitamin C supplement!*
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Minerals: Essential Part Of Health
A mineral is a natural inorganic chemical compound that your body must have for normal growth, metabolism and to make many enzymes and hormones. Like vitamins, you must get your minerals from your food.
We need minerals every day just like we need our vitamins. Trace Minerals are required in a small quantity by our bodies. We need trace minerals in very small doses, but still they are very important for our health.
Dietary Supplements: Do They Help Or Hurt
What you need to know before taking a vitamin or mineral supplement.
The average American diet leaves a lot to be desired. Research finds our plates lacking in a number of essential nutrients, including calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, and D. It’s no wonder that more than half of us open a supplement bottle to get the nutrition we need. Many of us take supplements not just to make up for what we’re missing, but also because we hope to give ourselves an extra health boosta preventive buffer to ward off disease.
Getting our nutrients straight from a pill sounds easy, but supplements don’t necessarily deliver on the promise of better health. Some can even be dangerous, especially when taken in larger-than-recommended amounts.
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Beyond The Common Cold
Although supplements can’t ward off the common cold, vitamin C is still important to your health. It serves essential roles in the human body and supports normal immune function, according to a 2017 report in the journal Nutrients.
Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, meaning it neutralizes free radicals generated by the body’s normal metabolism and by exposure to environmental stressors, including ultraviolet radiation and air pollution. Free radicals are charged particles that can damage cells, tissues and genetic material if left unchecked, and thus trigger harmful inflammation.
Besides stopping free radicals, vitamin C helps to activate several key enzymes in the body, which go on to synthesize hormones and build collagen, a tough protein found in skin and connective tissues, according to the 2017 report. These hormones help control the response of the cardiovascular system to severe infections, while collagen fortifies the skin against injury.
Vitamin C may also bolster the fatty membranes in skin and connective tissue, thus protecting organs like the lungs from pathogens, according to cell culture and preclinical studies. When bugs do infiltrate the body, vitamin C helps direct immune cells called neutrophils to the site of infection and defends these cells against free radicals, the 2017 report noted.
Nature Made Vitamin D3 May Help Support Your Immune System
Geetika Gupta, MD, is a board-certified internist working in primary care with a focus on the outpatient care of COVID-19.
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Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been dozens of claims for alternative remedies to prevent and treat the virus. Unfortunately this has led to a lot of misinformation about how to stay well, and it is hard to know what to take seriously. When it comes to preventing serious illness, getting vaccinated and boosted is the best thing you can do to protect yourself. When fully vaccinated and boosted, you have a lesser chance of becoming sick or as severely ill, says Paul Thottingal, MD, national infectious disease physician for Kaiser Permanente.
Its also important to keep up with CDC guidance and to follow additional precautions if youre at increased risk for serious illness and complications. To prevent illness, hand washing, social distancing, and mask-wearing are still important for those at increased risk of infection and in areas with increased community-level COVID-19 spread, even when mandates are relaxed, adds Emily LaRose, DrPH, MS, RD, Nutrition and Global Health Consultant to Meedans Health Desk.
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Vitamins And Supplements Are Regulated
But before we look at how the science works, it helps to understand how ‘medicines’ are regulated in Australia.
In a nutshell, not all medicines undergo the same level of scrutiny or oversight. So even though vitamin C might sit next to a cold and flu medication on the shelf, they don’t necessarily undergo the same scrutiny.
Complementary medicines and supplements, which include vitamins, minerals, herbal, aromatherapy and homeopathic products, are in a different category to more conventional medicines, such as prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications.
In Australia, all medicines are regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration under which drugs can be categorised as registered or listed .
Registered medicines, including prescription medications and over-the-counter medications , are “assessed by the TGA for quality, safety and efficacy”.
Most complementary medicines are listed, meaning that while they have to meet some safety and hygiene standards, they don’t have to meet the same strict efficacy or effectiveness standards that registered medicines do.
This means complementary medicines might not come with the same effectiveness as your conventional medicines.
However, like conventional medicines, they can come with possible side effects.
You can also overdose on some of them and they can interact with other medicines you take.
“Safety is a relative thing,” explains clinical pharmacology professor Ric Day, from St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney.
How To Know If Your Child Has A Vitamin C Deficiency
The good news: Vitamin C deficiency is quite rare in the United States.
Vitamin C deficiency is very seldom seen in children and adults in developed countries, unless they have severe intestinal malabsorption or poor eating habits that avoid sources of vitamin C, says Dr. Radhakrishnan.
Diagnosing vitamin C deficiency requires special blood tests. But the main condition caused by deficiency of vitamin C is scurvy, which is very rare. Scurvy was described by the ancient Egyptians and in pirate stories, as it was a leading cause of death during long ship voyages in the industrial revolution era.
People with scurvy may have small brown spots on the skin, roughening of the skin, thickening of the gums and bleeding from the mucous membranes. They also may have a feeling of weakness or discomfort, emotional changes, poor wound healing, bone pain, and in late stages, jaundice, nerve involvement and convulsions.
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Is It Ok To Take Vitamin C Every Day
While most other animals can make vitamin C, humans need a bit of help. Because we can’t synthesize vitamin C , we have to consume it daily.
Ferira, a nutrition scientist and registered dietitian, puts things in further perspective, sharing that, “almost half of American adults have a vitamin C deficit from their diet. As a nation, we are failing to meet these baseline levels, or basic needs, much less benefit from effective doses.” She goes on to explain, “We cannot assume vitamin C will just happen for us Monday through Sunday. It has to be an intentional nutrition approach with planning and strategy involved.”
How To Get More Vitamin C In Your Diet
This antioxidant super-nutrient is found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. Yet, according to dietary intake data and the 2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines, many adults don’t get enough vitamin C in their diets. This is especially true of smokers and non-Hispanic black males, according to research done by Jeff Hampl, PhD, RD, and colleagues at the University of Arizona.
The foods richest in vitamin C are citrus fruits, green peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, white potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Other good sources include dark leafy greens, cantaloupe, papaya, mango, watermelon, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, red peppers, raspberries, blueberries, winter squash, and pineapples.
Here are eight easy ways to work more fruits and veggies into your diet each day:
Phyo K. Myint, MRCP, department of public health, University of Cambridge, England.
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Dosage: How Much Vitamin C Should I Get
Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs.
For most healthy people, it is easy to get adequate amounts of vitamin C through food. You can meet your recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C each day by eating just one of the following:
- Kiwi fruit
Two important caveats to these recommendations are:
- If you smoke, take an additional 35 milligrams per day.
- If you’ve been diagnosed with a vitamin C deficiency, you’ll need between 100 to 200 milligrams per day until a blood test shows normal levels.
Taking high doses may be appropriate for some people, but it usually provides no extra benefit. Your body controls how much vitamin C it absorbs.
That means it’ll take what it needs from food and supplements, and anything beyond that comes out in your urine. Taking 1,000 milligrams a day or more actually drops your absorption rate by about 50%.
There Are No Supplements To Boost Immunity
Supplements wont ward off disease during a deadly flu season.
It would be great to have a magic pill that could reduce the risk of developing a cold or flu but at the present time, there is no magic bullet, Manson said.
There is some evidence vitamin C may slightly shorten the duration of symptoms, she noted. But rather than popping vitamin C pills, its better to eat fruits and vegetables.
And have some chicken soup, Manson said.
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How Vitamin C Supports A Healthy Immune System
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin well known for its role in supporting a healthy immune system. Because your body cannot make vitamin C, it must come from the foods you eat every day.
Research shows 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. Vitamin C from foods also seems to reduce the risk of cartilage loss in those with osteoarthritis.
Though it may not keep you from catching a cold, there is some evidence that high doses of vitamin C may decrease the length of cold symptoms by as much as one to one-and-a-half days for some people. However, other studies did not result in the same findings, and the risk of side effects is greater with high doses of vitamin C supplements, so check with your doctor or registered dietitian nutritionist before taking.
The Excitement Over Supplements
We’ve heard a lot of encouraging news about supplements. A series of studies hailed vitamin D as a possible defense against a long list of diseases, including cancer, diabetes, depression, and even the common cold. Omega-3 fatty acids have been touted for warding off strokes and other cardiovascular events. And antioxidants such as vitamins C and E and beta carotene were seen as promising silver bullets against heart disease, cancer, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Here’s the big caveat: many of those exciting supplement studies were observationalthey didn’t test a particular supplement against a placebo in a controlled setting. The results of more stringent randomized controlled trials haven’t yielded the same good news.
“Often the enthusiasm for these vitamins and supplements outpaces the evidence. And when the rigorous evidence is available from randomized controlled trials, often the results are at odds with the findings of the observational studies,” explains Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and principal investigator of a large randomized trial known as VITAL .
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Do We Really Need Them In Supplement Form
A lot of vitamins and minerals are lost between the farm and reaching our plates. A lot of factors like exposure to heat, light, air and pollution affect the fruit and vegetables and many vitamins and minerals are lost in this process. Many others are lost during the cooking of our foods.
The average person can get the RDAs for vitamins and minerals simply by eating a reasonable diet containing plenty of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. Yeah, right. First of all, whos that mythical average person? Not anyone we know. The Doctors and Researchers calculate the RDAs on the basis of considering you as an adult under age 60whos in good health, has perfect digestion, isnt overweight, leads a totally stress-free life, doesnt have a chronic disease, and does not take regular medicine. The RDAs also assume that you really manage to eat a good diet every day.
Research Into Vitamin D Supplements
Theres lots of buzz about vitamin D supplements, but do they really help?
Manson was the principal investigator of the VITAL study, the largest randomized clinical trial of vitamin D. It found vitamin D did not significantly affect heart attack, stroke or cancer incidence.
For now, Manson believes its best to follow the National Academy of Medicines guidelines and aim for 600-800 IUs of vitamin D a day, which should meet the requirements of most people.
If youre not drinking fortified dairy products, not eating fatty fish or getting very limited sun exposure all sources of vitamin D supplements could help, she noted.
I think it should be fine to take 1,000-2,000 IUs a day as a supplement, especially if you have osteoporosis, or bone health problems or you have concerns about your diet, she said.
But many people are taking 10,000 IUs a day or higher and such high doses may have risks, including high blood calcium and high urine calcium, which may be linked to kidney stones, Manson noted.
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