What Vitamins Are Good For Your Immune System
3 Vitamins That Are Best for Boosting Your Immunity
- Vitamin C is one of the biggest immune system boosters of all. In fact, a lack of vitamin C can even make you more prone to getting sick.
- Vitamin B6 is vital to supporting biochemical reactions in the immune system.
- Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps the body fight off infection.
What Is Vitamin C And How Can I Get It
As a water-soluble vitamin, vitamin C is an essential nutrient, which means your body cant produce it. Fortunately, you can obtain what you need through your diet and, if needed, supplementation. While citrus foods like oranges and grapefruits are rich in vitamin C, you can also find it in a variety of other fruits and vegetables1, such as:
New research of US population data shows that over 45% of Americans are not meeting their vitamin C needs through food alone.2 Those who smoke have higher vitamin C requirements to help counteract the oxidative stress of smoking and smokers generally have lower concentrations of vitamin C. If you dont regularly eat the foods above, you may not be getting the Vitamin C your body needs to stay healthy. Consider adding a Vitamin C supplement to meet your daily nutrient needs.
Learn More: How Much Vitamin C Should I Take?
Vitamin C And Your Immune System
I have been taking Vitamin C to prevent colds and the flu since the 70s, when Linus Pauling declared vitamin Cs ability to defeat the common cold. I have always thought it helped prevent or shorten any illness. Since then, its been a hotly debated subject as to how effective it actually is for preventing colds, and influenza. Personally, I am a believer.
Vitamin C is a very potent antioxidant that protects against free radicals that can lower your immunity, and increase the risk of chronic disease, as well as speed up the aging process.
Vitamin C does help the immune system protect against viral infections and other types of infections more efficiently. It does this by strengthening the function of our innate immune system, which is our first line of defense against bacteria and virusesespecially those we have never encountered before.
In addition, vitamin C also activates the adaptive immune system responses to increase levels of antibodies which attack specific types of germs, bacteria and viruses that the body has previously fought off.
A recent study published in Seminars in Preventive and Alternative Medicine looked at over 100 studies and found a growing list of benefits of vitamin C. Some of those health benefits include:
This is where liposomal vitamin C has an advantage.
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Nuclear Receptors For Vitamin Metabolites
Locally produced 1,252VD3 can act on immune cells in an autocrine or paracrine manner. On complexing with 1,252VD3, the nuclear vitamin D receptor heterodimerizes with nuclear receptors of the retinoic X receptor family which has three main isoforms: , and and binds to VD3 response elements in the promoters of VD3-responsive genes .
Similarly, retinoic acid exerts its multiple effects by binding to nuclear receptors of the retinoic acid receptor family, which also has three main isoforms: , and . These form RARRXR heterodimers, which interact with retinoic acid response elements within the promoters of retinoic acid-responsive genes,. RAR proteins are ubiquitously expressed and are also upregulated by retinoic acid,. As mentioned above, RXR proteins can also pair with VDR proteins or form RXRRXR homodimers, which are specific receptors for 9-cis-retinoic acid but not for all-trans retinoic acid . In addition, RXR proteins are partners for other nuclear receptors, such as thyroid hormone receptor, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor and liver X receptor, among others. Therefore, it is possible that, given their common RXR nuclear binding partners, some ligands, such as 1,252VD3 and retinoic acid, might antagonize each others effects.
Optimizing Your Dietary Vitamin C
How do you optimize your vitamin C intake from foods? Start with choosing good sources of vitamin C . Then, pay attention to how you prepare those foods. Certain preparation methods can lower the amount of vitamin C in a food. Boiling can substantially reduce the content, whereas microwaving, surprisingly enough, preserved the most. In general, the longer and the hotter the cooking method, the more vitamin C was destroyed.
Storage methods also play a role. Fresh and frozen produce tends to have more vitamin C than canned. The longer you keep that fresh produce in your fridge or on your counter, the less vitamin C you end up with. Frozen produce is a good option as the freezing process can destroy some of the enzymes that eventually degrade vitamin C.
Though not well documented, the amount of vitamin C in fruits and veggies may also differ significantly depending on where theyre grown, how theyre grown, how long they sit after harvest, what season it is, and how theyre stored. Even fruits grown on different branches of the same tree can vary in their nutrient content!
- 1 medium guava = 126 mg
- 1 medium red bell pepper = 152 mg
- 1 medium orange = 70 mg
- 1 cup of raw broccoli = 40 mg
- 1 small lemon = 30 mg
- 1 small papaya = 95 mg
- 1 cup of raw Brussels sprouts = 75 mg
- 1 cup of raw strawberries = 60 mg
- 1 kiwi fruit = 64 mg
- ¾ cup of diced pineapple = 48 mg
- 1 cup of frozen cauliflower florets = 21 mg
- 1 cup of raw cantaloupe = 57 mg
- 1 large tomato = 25 mg
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Neutrophil Apoptosis And Clearance
Following microbial phagocytosis and killing, neutrophils undergo a process of programmed cell death called apoptosis . This process facilitates subsequent phagocytosis and clearance of the spent neutrophils from sites of inflammation by macrophages, thus supporting resolution of inflammation and preventing excessive tissue damage . Caspases are key effector enzymes in the apoptotic process, culminating in phosphatidyl serine exposure, thus marking the cells for uptake and clearance by macrophages . Interestingly, caspases are thiol-dependent enzymes, making them very sensitive to inactivation by ROS generated by activated neutrophils . Thus, vitamin C may be expected to protect the oxidant-sensitive caspase-dependent apoptotic process following activation of neutrophils. In support of this premise, in vitro studies have shown that loading human neutrophils with vitamin C can enhance Escherichia coli-mediated apoptosis of the neutrophils . Peritoneal neutrophils isolated from vitamin C-deficient Gulo mice exhibited attenuated apoptosis , and instead underwent necrotic cell death . These vitamin C-deficient neutrophils were not phagocytosed by macrophages in vitro, and persisted at inflammatory loci in vivo . Furthermore, administration of vitamin C to septic animals decreased the numbers of neutrophils in the lungs of these animals .
Should I Take Vitamin C With Other Supplements
Vitamin C has an impeccable reputation for supporting immune health, but it’s not the only nutrient that can help support a robust immune system.
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Vitamin C And Immune System Regulation
Besides an extensive range of biochemical pathways in which vitamin C is involved, it also participates in the response of the innate and adaptive immune system . The intracellular content of vitamin C in immune cells depends on the plasma availability. In healthy adults the content of vitamin C in leukocytes can be saturated with an intake of at least 100 mg of vitamin C per day, through foods, obtaining a concentration of about 3.5, 3, and 1.5 mmol/L, respectively, in lymphocytes, monocytes and neutrophils . Leukocytes absorption of vitamin C from the blood is very efficient, through SVCT proteins , resulting in an intracellular content which is 50 to 100 times greater than the plasma concentration . As an effective antioxidant, vitamin C contributes to protecting neutrophils from oxidative stress during the early stages of an immune response, when neutrophils activate phagocytosis and produce reactive oxygen species to destroy antigens . Once the phagocytic capacity is exhausted and neutrophils start to die, vitamin C seems to regulate the process in favor of apoptosis, through the activation of a caspase-dependent cascade, inhibiting the transition to necrosis, and resulting in a more efficient resolution of inflammation .
The Nutrient Appears To Have Modest Prevention Power
Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Thinkstock
Vitamin C is often touted as a natural cold remedy. The nutrient is featured in supplements promising to boost the immune system. Nobel laureate Dr. Linus Pauling famously claimed that taking large doses of vitamin C helps thwart a cold. Is there something to these claims? “The data show that vitamin C is only marginally beneficial when it comes to the common cold,” says Dr. Bruce Bistrian, chief of clinical nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
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How Does Vitamin C Compare To Other Immune
While vitamin C is important when it comes to helping to support your immune system, other nutrients also play valuable roles in supporting a healthy immune system. Take a look at how these other nutrients help support your immune system.
- Vitamin A: This fat-soluble vitamin comes from animal sources in the form of retinol and fruits and vegetables in the form of carotenoids, like beta-carotene. Carotenoids are converted to active vitamin A in the body. Recognized for its role in the immune system, vitamin A helps support the immune system.
- Vitamin D: Nearly all immune system cells have vitamin D receptors that allow this key nutrient to support a healthy immune response.
- Zinc: This mighty mineral helps with many processes in the body, including the immune system. Zinc helps support a healthy immune system.
The Bottom Line
To sum it all up, vitamin C is an essential nutrient that plays a critical role in supporting your healthy immune system. If youre not sure whether youre getting enough vitamin C, consider taking a vitamin C supplement to fill the nutrient gap.
Learn More: Vitamin D Immune System Benefits
This information is only for educational purposes and is not medical advice or intended as a recommendation of any specific products. Consult your health care provider for more information.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
How Much Vitamin C Should You Take
When it comes to vitamin C, many people think more is better. The recommended daily amount is about 65-90mg per day, and the upper limit is 2,000mg per day. Most supplements on the market provide much more than 90mg, and if you’re eating foods with vitamin C and supplementing, you’re meeting your 90mg requirement and then some.
If you’re taking more vitamin C than is recommended, it’s unlikely to hurt you since the vitamin is not stored in the body. “For some, consuming too much vitamin C can cause stomach upset, like diarrhea, nausea or cramps,” Randazzo says. In fact, if you are sick, your body needs much more vitamin C and your needs can increase due to inflammation and other factors. This is why it’s important to talk to a health professional like a doctor or nutritionist to help you determine how much vitamin C you need to prevent or treat illness.
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Vitamin C And Immune System: Does It Help
Weve all heard that Vitamin C is one of the best things to take when you have a cold or virus, as the vitamin should help your immune system fight the infection. But is that actually the case, or just a commonly believed myth?
In this post, well find out the truth of whether or not Vitamin C helps the immune system function and also the connection between whey, glutathione, vitamin C and immunity.
Effects Of Antioxidant Vitamins On Immunity
It has been known for more than 30 years that some vitamins with antioxidant properties, including vitamin A, vitamin B6 , vitamin C and particularly vitamin E, have protective effects on animal models of atherosclerosis and ischaemia-reperfusion injury . Vitamin E collectively refers to eight related compounds , of which -tocopherol has the greatest bioavailability and is the best characterized. Vitamin E decreases the release of reactive oxygen species by monocytes and the expression of CD11b and very late antigen 4 , thereby decreasing monocyte adhesion to the endothelium. Vitamin E also blocks the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including IL-1, IL-6, TNF and the chemokine IL-8, by monocytes and macrophages,. Moreover, vitamin E prevents the upregulation of the adhesion molecules vascular cell-adhesion molecule 1 and intercellular adhesion molecule 1 on the endothelium induced by oxidized low-density lipo protein and IL-1, as well as the upregulation of E-selectin and some chemokines. Reactive oxygen species activate the nuclear factor-B pathway, which initiates many pro-inflammatory events. Therefore, the therapeutic antioxidant effect of these vitamins could be explained, at least in part, by their capacity to decrease NF-B activation.
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Who Should Take A Vitamin C Supplement
Certain groups are at higher risk of developing a deficiency in vitamin C due to inadequate intake or malabsorption problems, so they might benefit from taking vitamin supplements. Its always recommended that you check with your physician if you should take any dietary supplements containing this vitamin and consult with them about vitamin C dosage.
First, those who dont eat varied foods are likely to have low levels of vitamin C. People with a limited food variety are usually:
- poverty-stricken people
- people with mental illnesses
Next, people with medical conditions that decrease vitamin C absorption are generally advised to use supplemental ascorbic acid sources. For example, people with certain types of cancer or end-stage kidney disease can have low concentrations of vitamin C.
Furthermore, the Institute of Medicine came to the conclusion that people who smoke need a higher daily dose of vitamin C. Also, passive smokers are advised to meet the recommended daily value of this vitamin. Finally, infants fed with evaporated or boiled milk can have a low concentration of vitamin C since ascorbic acid in this baby food isnt found commonly. Thats why they should be fed with breast milk or infant formula.
How To Get Enough Vitamin C
“Typically, I recommend eating a variety of fruits and vegetables for those seeking to boost their vitamin C content,” dietician Jenn Randazzo tells CNET. Vitamin C is found in many foods including:
- Citrus fruits and their juices
- Red and green peppers
- Some foods and beverages that are fortified with vitamin C
“Because vitamin C content may be reduced by prolonged storage and cooking techniques, try to consume vitamin C foods either raw or steamed for a short period of time,” Randazzo adds. Another way to ensure you get enough vitamin C is to add a supplement. This can be helpful during times when you want to prevent illness, boost your immune system or get extra vitamin C support if you’re sick.
“If you’re worried about getting enough vitamin C into your daily diet, it is available as dietary supplements as well ,” Randazzo says. “However, some supplements have other forms, like sodium ascorbate, calcium ascorbate, and other mineral ascorbates too. Research has not shown that any form of vitamin C is better than the others, so it’s important that you use the form easiest to incorporate into your personal wellness routine.”
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How Does Vitamin C Help Support The Immune System
Vitamin C plays several key roles in the body, both as an antioxidant and as an enzyme co-factor, assisting in reactions such as making collagen and carnitine. Vitamin C also helps in iron absorption in the GI tract. While this key nutrient plays a variety of roles in the body, vitamin C is best known for its role in helping to support your immune system.
For starters, vitamin C helps support function of immune cells. As an antioxidant, vitamin C delivers antioxidant activity and helps to support immune cells by neutralizing free radicals.3
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Too Much Of A Good Thing: Overdoing Vitamin D
It’s important to not overdo vitamin D supplements since taking unsafe amounts of it can have negative effects on your health, like kidney problems, kidney stones, or hypercalcemia, a toxic condition where there is too much calcium in the blood. Generally, taking more than 4,000 IU per day is considered too much.
This is why it’s important to talk to your doctor before you take a supplement, and also ask for a test. If you think you get a decent amount of sun, eat foods with vitamin D regularly, and your levels are healthy, your doctor will likely say you don’t need any extra.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
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Vitamin C And Infection
A major symptom of the vitamin C deficiency disease scurvy is the marked susceptibility to infections, particularly of the respiratory tract, with pneumonia being one of the most frequent complications of scurvy and a major cause of death . Patients with acute respiratory infections, such as pulmonary tuberculosis and pneumonia, have decreased plasma vitamin C concentrations relative to control subjects . Administration of vitamin C to patients with acute respiratory infections returns their plasma vitamin C levels to normal and ameliorates the severity of the respiratory symptoms . Cases of acute lung infections have shown rapid clearance of chest X-rays following administration of intravenous vitamin C . This vitamin C-dependent clearance of neutrophils from infected lungs could conceivably be due to enhanced apoptosis and subsequent phagocytosis and clearance of the spent neutrophils by macrophages . Pre-clinical studies of animals with sepsis-induced lung injury have indicated that vitamin C administration can increase alveolar fluid clearance, enhance bronchoalveolar epithelial barrier function, and attenuate sequestration of neutrophils , all essential factors for normal lung function.