Vitamin C and the Immune System

Vitamin C and the Immune System

Did you know that Vitamin C is the 4th leading nutrient deficiency in the United States? (Schleicher et al, 2009)

How does vitamin C affect immune function?

Vitamin C supports BOTH the innate and adaptive immune systems, and can both inhibit and activate different parts of the immune system (Carr, 2017).

  • In conditions like asthma and bronchial hypersensitivity, vitamin C can inhibit excessive activation of the immune response (Shaik, BD et al 2015).
  • Vitamin C is necessary for recycling spent neutrophils(a type of white blood cell), in order to prevent toxic debris accumulation and stimulating migration of neutrophils to the site of an infection.
  • In addition to recycling and stimulating neutrophil migration, vitamin C also enhances functions of lymphocytes, macrophages, and mast cells. The reduction of reactive oxygen species benefits the immune system, and accelerates killing of unwanted microbes.

Vitamin C & Infections

Infections increase the need for vitamin C, and indeed, vitamin C is the best natural antiviral. It can both prevent and help fight infections through its enhancement of various parts of the immune system. For example, vitamin C deficiency results in impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections. Research shows potential in the use of vitamin C to prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections. Scientists have even identified that people with respiratory problems have lower vitamin C levels, and administration of vitamin C has been able to lessen these symptoms (Bakaev, V et al, 2004).



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Bakaev, V. V. and A. P. Duntau (2004). "Ascorbic acid in blood serum of patients with pulmonary tuberculosis and pneumonia." Int J Tuberc Lung Dis8(2): 263-266

Carr, A. C. and S. Maggini (2017). "Vitamin C and Immune Function." Nutrients9(11).

Schleicher, R. L., M. D. Carroll, E. S. Ford and D. A. Lacher (2009). "Serum vitamin C and the prevalence of vitamin C deficiency in the United States: 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)." Am J Clin Nutr90(5): 1252-1263.

Huijskens, M. J., M. Walczak, N. Koller, J. J. Briede, B. L. Senden-Gijsbers, M. C. Schnijderberg, G. M. Bos and W. T. Germeraad (2014). "Technical advance: ascorbic acid induces development of double-positive T cells from human hematopoietic stem cells in the absence of stromal cells." J Leukoc Biol96(6): 1165-1175.

Hemilä, H. and P. Louhiala (2013). "Vitamin C for preventing and treating pneumonia." Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews(8).

Hoffer, A. and Walker, M. (1978). Ortho-molecular. New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing, Inc.

Shaik-Dasthagirisaheb, Y. (2016). "Relationship between Vitamin C, Mast Cells and Inflammation." Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences06.

Stone, D. (2018). 80 Years of High Dose Vitamin C Research. Norderstedt: Books on Demand.

Levy, T. (n.d.). Curing the Incurable Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins 3rd edition (3rd ed.).

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