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Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that aids in many processes. It is an essential nutrient that is neither produced nor stored by the body; daily intake is recommended to ensure the body is getting enough. The many benefits of regular vitamin C intake include management of high blood pressure, prevention of iron deficiency, and protection of memory and cognitive function.
One system that reaps many benefits from vitamin C is the immune system. It protects against diseases by aiding the producing white blood cells that fight against infection, as well as helping them to function once they are produced. Vitamin C also helps the skin by strengthening it, which leads to a better skin defence system. Read on to learn more about the connection between vitamin C and infectious diseases.
How does vitamin C affect the immune system?
Since the immune system is the first line of defence against all outside pathogens, keeping it strong and functional is of the utmost importance. This means participating in the right types of lifestyle activities and ensuring that you’re feeding your body everything it needs in the way of nutrients. Vitamin C is one of those essential nutrients that has been proven to be a great immune booster. Specifically, vitamin C has the ability to influence natural killer cells.
Natural killer cells are lymphocytes, or white blood immune cells. They go throughout the body during the immune response to target and kill cells that are infected. Vitamin C promotes and enhances natural killer cells’ activity, making them even better at their job. It can also influence B and T cells in the immune system, as well as stimulate other immune cells that are required to fight off infection.
How much vitamin C should I take to boost my immune system?
When it comes to dosages of vitamin C, everyone may have different needs depending on how well they absorb the nutrient and other lifestyle factors. For example, a person who smokes may need 35 mg more vitamin C per day then a person who has never smoked. Healthy adults typically require anywhere from 75 to 90 mg per day. To boost the immune system, the dosage required may also be higher.
Research has shown that to boost the immune system with vitamin C, it may be taken in high dosages after consultation with a healthcare professional. This amount may help to shorten the duration of colds as well as boost the immune function. However, the side effects that may come with high-dose vitamin C include stomach upset, nausea, and diarrhoea.
Does vitamin C supplementation prevent or treat infectious diseases?
According to recent research regarding vitamin C and COVID-19, supplementation with the nutrient could potentially be of use in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases. One particular study for example found that during an infection, high-dose vitamin C was able to normalise levels of vitamin C in serums and leukocytes.
When it comes to prevention of infectious diseases, vitamin C cannot cause someone to be immune to a virus or other type of infection. But it may make a difference in the severity of the illness or the duration of symptoms. Vitamin C is not meant to be used as a treatment alone, nor is there any evidence to support that it can cure any infectious disease, but studies have shown that it may help to boost the efficacy of treatments and management routes when it comes to viruses.