Vitamin C and the Immune System

What are good sources of Vitamin C?

Is Vitamin C really good for colds?

Research shows that eating 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate every day can lead to lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. That's great but we're talking about Vitamin C. Why bother when we just mentioned chocolate is good for us? Well, Vitamin C is a vital nutrient to support a healthy immune system.

Vitamin C is a good thing

The immune system has evolved over the years to protect our health. Molecular and cellular components make up the immune system. These either occur naturally (innate) to an organism or need to be acquired (adaptive) after an initial response to a specific pathogen. The immune system is comprised of physical barriers (such as the skin, hair and mucous), chemical barriers (such as enzymes in sweat and saliva) and biological barriers (living organisms that help protect the body from pathogens). Vitamin C contributes to immune defence by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune systems.
Vitamin C supports the epithelial barrier function against pathogens. Epithelia are continuous sheets of cells, one or more layers thick, covering the exterior surface of the body, lining internal closed cavities and body tubes. Epithelia protect the body from physical, chemical and infectious damage. Epithelial tissues undergo constant renewal and repair.
Vitamin C accumulates in phagocytic cells (cells that protect the body by ingesting harmful foreign particles, bacteria and dead or dying cells and ultimately killing microbial.
The role of Vitamin C in lymphocytes is less clear (white blood cells crucial to our immune system) but it has been shown to enhance the proliferation of B-cells (for anti-body driven adaptive immunity) and T-cells (for cytotoxic adaptive immunity by killing cells that are infected with viruses).
Vitamin C is beneficial to individuals with weakened immune systems brought on by stress. Because Vitamin C is one of the first nutrients to be depleted by this stress and in alcoholics, smokers and obese individuals.

As an antioxidant, Vitamin C fights free radicals in the body which may help prevent or delay certain cancers, heart disease but also promote healthy ageing. Vitamin C may also support the reduction of cartilage loss in those with osteoarthritis.
There is good evidence taking Vitamin C for colds can reduce the risk of developing further complications such as pneumonia and lung infections. Supplementing with Vitamin C appears to prevent and treat respiratory infections.
Sources of Vitamin C are abundant. Citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, green and red bell peppers, broccoli, and kiwifruit contain a good supply. Vegetarians benefit from this vitamin as it helps the body absorb iron from foods such as beans, spinach and quinoa.
The next time you’re picking out a nice piece of dark chocolate, you know, “to lower your cortisol levels”, maybe have an orange at the same time.

How much Vitamin C should be considered daily?

Can you take too much of this vitamin? 

 Sources: Ask the Scientists; NCBI; Pubmed; Healthline. 

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