• Dr. Gladis Walter

Does Vitamin C support the Immune System?

Many studies report that vitamin C is good for the immune system but taking just vitamin C alone may not be enough to fight infection. Fruits and vegetables are a good source of this vitamin and because you are eating the whole food which contains bioflavonoids, there will be an increase in the absorption of vitamin C. This may not happen when you take the supplements alone unless you invest in a more sophisticated formulation, rich in calcium ascorbate. When a vitamin is water-soluble, like vitamin C, it will not be stored in our body, meaning that it won’t stay in your system for more than 24h. Because of that, you need to take them every single day. The prophylactic amount recommended in recent research is between 100-200mg, but it will depend on the conditions of your body. In reality, if you are more predisposed to virus infection, like the period we are living now, with the pandemic caused by the spread of COVID 19, it could be a good idea to check first if what you are eating contains vitamin C. Saying that the best source of vitamin C is still found in grocery stores, in the produce department. The combination of micronutrients contained in fruits and vegetables contributes to building a stronger immune system. They are: • Soluble vitamins B6 and B12 • liposoluble vitamins A, D, C and E • folate • zinc, iron, copper, selenium The best source of vitamin C, that I know, is found in the acerola cherry (Malpighia emarginata). You may not be impressed by its size and taste since it resembles a tart cherry, but this fruit is one of the most compact storage of vitamin C you may find in nature. Here is why acerola is a powerful vitamin C source: • 1 orange (96g) = 51.1 mg vit C • 1 acerola (4.8g) = 80.5 mg vit C • 1 strawberry (12g) = 7.1mg vit C Since the prophylactic prevention of infection requires 100–200 mg/day, to be distributed among cells and tissues, you may choose to eat: • 2-3 acerolas • 2-4 oranges • 10-20 strawberries But if your body is already fighting infection and the inflammation is building up, the dose of vitamin C recommended will be much higher (500mg to 1000mg). You can also take supplements but make sure it is from a trustable brand and price may be proportional to the quality. Look for certifications, origin and expiration date. A cheap product may imply a low dose of vitamin C with a low absorption rate.

References: Carr, A.; Maggini, S. Vitamin C and immune function. (2017). Nutrients, 9, 1211. Elste, V.; Troesch, B.; Eggersdorfer, M.;Weber, P. (2017). Emerging Evidence on Neutrophil Motility Supporting Its Usefulness to Define Vitamin C Intake Requirements. Nutrients, 9, 503. Hemila, H.; Chalker, E. Vitamin C can shorten the length of stay in the ICU: A meta-analysis. (2019). Nutrients,11, 708. Maggini, S.; Beveridge, S.; Sorbara, J.P.; Senatore, G. (2008) Feeding the immune system: The role of micronutrients in restoring resistance to infections. CAB Rev 3, 1–21. Manning, J., Mitchell, B., Appadurai, D. A., Shakya, A., Pierce, L. J., Wang, H., Nganga, V., Swanson, P. C., May, J. M., Tantin, D., & Spangrude, G. J. (2013). Vitamin C promotes maturation of T-cells. Antioxidants & redox signaling, 19, 2054–2067. Wintergerst, E.; Maggini, S.; Hornig, D. Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and e_ect on clinical conditions. (2006). Ann. Nutr Metab, 50, 85–94. Wishart, K. Increased micronutrient requirements during physiologically demanding situations: Review of the current evidence. (2017). Vitamin Miner, 6, 1–16.

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