Vitamin C & Immune Function
Hi, I’m Dr. Warner here –
I am the founder of the Well Theory. Let’s discuss immune function, immunity, and vitamin C, which was one of the key components in my multivitamin. My Immunity Boosting Multivitamin can be referred to as being pro-immunity – it aids in the processes of healing and boosts the function of the immune system.
Why is vitamin C so important? You’ve probably heard since childhood that vitamin C helps to fight colds and flu, and it will commonly be seen as an ingredient in medicines that come out every cold and flu season.
But why is it good for immunity?
The more I learn about vitamin C, the more I’m just blown away by its immunity-boosting capabilities.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant and prevents infections. It’s essential in your diet – meaning you have to take it as the human body is unable to produce or synthesize it on its own.
If you already have a well-balanced diet that incorporates plenty of vitamin C, that’s ideal. Eating well can be difficult and takes time and planning, so many people – myself included – find that supplementation is necessary to get the essential vitamins and nutrients to improve immunity.
I recommend my multivitamin – which is packed with vitamin C – to my surgical patients to give them the best chance for fighting infections and healing quickly. My multivitamin has a daily dose of 1000mg of vitamin C.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) and other regulatory bodies will tell you that you don’t need that much, but I have found this to be a good amount for people healing a wound or fighting off an infection in a state of oxidative stress. Vitamin C is water-soluble, and any amount that the body does not use is easily expelled through digestion.
While taking a multivitamin is a great step towards building your immunity, eating the right foods is the best way to absorb essential vitamins and minerals. Read our blog on 10 Immunity-Boosting Foods to find out what you should start including in your diet today!
Vitamin C is mandatory for sustaining an effective immune response to infection. Most of us are vitamin C deficient as it is the fourth leading cause of nutrient deficiency in the United States. A normal virus would normally not cause more than a runny nose or watery eyes, but vitamin C deficiency can cause this virus to bloom into more serious, problematic conditions such as pneumonia.
This is especially important for respiratory infections which is why we see a lot of vitamin C products for the common cold. Vitamin C prevents the common cold, and it helps the body to fight it off faster. Without this prevention, the common cold can become a deeper, lower respiratory infection and become pneumonia.
The elderly, institutionalized, or nursing home patients are especially at risk as they are immunosenescent – meaning their immune system is weakened. Many are malnutritional, ill, and are vitamin C deficient. When these individuals are supplemented with C at IV levels and high oral doses, they do better with respiratory infections. If you have an elderly relative in a nursing home, consider increasing their vitamin C dosages.
Vitamin C also protects our body from our own immune system. Neutrophils in the immune system attack and absorb pathogens by releasing toxins and proteins. These neutrophils are then eaten by macrophage cells to clean up these toxins. If the macrophages do not carry out this task, the toxins from the dead neutrophil will be released into the tissue causing a pro-inflammatory response that can damage the tissue.
What does vitamin C do? Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and electron promoter. It reduces oxidative damage and protects us from the toxicity that our own immune system produces to damage the pathogens. This means that vitamin C is a self-protective mechanism and makes the lymphocytes and the neutrophils within the immune system function better.
Vitamin C is important for mitochondrial energy production. This nutrient provides daily power to the cells so that they have properly functioning mitochondria.
It also regulates the cytokine release from immune cells. Immune cells release certain chemical messengers, like cytokines, that trigger inflammation, bring in the macrophages, and encourage the attack on pathogens. If you have too much of the wrong cytokine, you may experience excess inflammation, tissue damage, and toxicity. Also, if you have too much of the wrong kind of cytokine, you may not experience enough inflammation.
Vitamin C helps to regulate the number of cytokines based on the type and intensity of the infection. The body requires enough vitamin C in every cell, including in the immune cells and the entire system to regulate this.
If you are surrounded by heavy pollution, like we are in South Louisiana, you are exposed to higher levels of oxidative stress because your body is constantly fighting off heavy metals, pesticides, and air pollution. The body then produces reactive oxygen species that can cause chronic inflammation. This can be affected by excess weight, as well.
To fight this, the body will deplete what little vitamin C it has to stabilize the cell membranes and protect the cells from oxidative stress.
If you are in an area of high pollution or if you smoke, you have low vitamin C levels and are constantly under oxidative stress. If you have diabetes, are obese, or just stressed out in general, you are also under oxidative stress.
Your body will constantly seek vitamin C and other antioxidants to lower this oxidative stress. Any illness will require even more vitamin C to protect the immune system. This is why I believe that vitamin C supplementation is crucial to health, as well as why I chose 1000mg for my multivitamin. From regular, daily oxidative stress and general stress, we can all benefit from healthier skin and connective tissues, as well as less inflammation and a strengthened immune system.
Dr. Meredith Warner is the creator of Well Theory and The Healing Sole. She is a board-certified Orthopedic Surgeon and Air Force Veteran.
She is on a mission to disrupt traditional medicine practices and promote betterment physically, spiritually and mentally to many more people. She advocates for wellness and functional health over big pharma so more people can age vibrantly with more function and less pain.
At Well Theory, Our surgeon-designed products are FDA Registered and formulated to help people:
- Manage the symptoms of musculoskeletal pain
- Recover vibrantly from orthopedic related surgeries
- Fill the gaps in our daily diets
- Manage pain associated with inflammation
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