Vitamin C and Your Immune System
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
Loading up on Vitamin C is a great first line of defense during cold and flu season. Many know instinctively to reach for vitamin C at the first signs of illness, and that’s for good reason. Vitamin C is truly a super vitamin, packed with immune boosting potential!
Vitamin C not only helps reduce symptoms and duration of respiratory tract infections–such as the common cold, bronchitis or sinusitis–it also decreases incidence of other conditions and complications like pneumonia and diarrhea.
Vitamin C plays a significant role in human health, both in reducing inflammation and preventing illness. Studies have even shown a correlation between being vitamin C deficient and having an increased risk and severity of the flu.
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, also known as ascorbic acid, which acts as an antioxidant in the body. Vitamin C plays an important part in overall health, from maintaining healthy connective tissue, to protecting the heart and increasing nutrient absorption.
Benefits of Vitamin C
Vitamin C helps prevent getting sick, and if you do get sick, vitamin C can reduce the length and severity of your symptoms. Emerging research shows promising results with vitamin C being a treatment for viral infections such as the flu.
Vitamin C also helps reduce viral pneumonia-related hospital stays–in one study of a patient with virus-induced acute respiratory distress syndrome, vitamin C was administered through a high dose IV which was believed to be a key factor in the patient’s rapid recovery.
Benefits of vitamin C include:
- Better skin
- Stronger immune system
- Increased nutrient absorption
- Reduced risk of chronic disease
- Helps manage blood pressure
- Reduces inflammation
- Anti-oxidant effect fights free radicals
- May lower risk of heart disease
- Protects brain function (memory and thinking) as you age
How Can I get Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is found primarily in fruits and vegetables, which is why it is important to include a lot of fresh organic produce in your diet. A vitamin C deficiency leaves you more susceptible to falling ill, can cause you to become chronically fatigued, and can even lead to scurvy.
The human body does not make vitamin C–we depend on external sources to meet our dietary needs. In fact, the body doesn’t even store vitamin C, so it’s important to have a steady stream of vitamin C rich foods in your diet. Vitamin C can also help you better absorb the other nutrients in your food!
Vitamin C-rich foods include:
- Bell peppers
- Citrus: Oranges, grapefruit, lemons
- Brussels sprouts
- Green peas
While vitamin C rich foods should b a part of your diet for many reasons, when you feel like you might be coming down with something, it’s time to start supplementing with more vitamin C than what you’ll get in food. You can use a high-quality vitamin C supplement, click here to see the vitamin C supplement I recommend to my patients. When you need an immune boost, take 2,000 mg 3-4x per day.
Other Ways to Boost Your Immune System
Vitamin C is an excellent immune booster, but it is best used in conjunction with other healthy lifestyle habits.
Immune Protocol: When you feel the first signs of illness
- Vitamin C supplement, take 2,000 mg 3-4x per day.
- Avoid alcohol, gluten, and sugar: these impair the body’s ability to fight off infections. Studies show that every time you indulge in something sweet, the immune system is depressed for hours!
- Get Enough Sleep: sleep is the body’s time to repair. It is essential to get enough sleep (even more than usual) when your body is fighting off an invader.
- Getting Outside: Vitamin D from the sun can help the immune system work better. Great in conjunction with vitamin C!
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient and a powerful antioxidant which many regard as the king of vitamins. It can help improve your health, both inside and health. Remember to feed yourself nourishing foods, like organic fruits and veggies which are full of vitamin C, to keep your natural defenses strong. However when you’re feeling compromised, know that vitamin C is a great first line of defense!