Vitamin C for immunity
How vitamin C benefits our Immune systems is explained.
VITAMIN C or ascorbic acid is an essential vitamin.
Human cannot synthesise vitamin C in the body like other mammals and should obtained from the food intake. But the vitamin C is water soluble and very unstable micro-nutrient, therefore it is often recommended to take vitamin C as supplements.
Vitamin C takes multiple roles in our body. It works as antioxidant,helps to support several protein syntheses including collagen, and Immune systems.
In 1970, Linus Pauling, a two-time Nobel prize winner, wrote a best seller titled vitamin C and the Common Cold where he suggested that high doses of vitamin C could help treat colds and other viruses. Based on these books, several studies have been conducted to research the oral consumption of vitamin c and the immune boosting effect. The recent review does suggest that vitamin C supplements reduce the duration of colds in the general population.
The review found that vitamin C supplements taken during a cold can reduce the duration of the illness by 8% in adults and 14% in children. Practically, that means that supplementing vitamin C can shorten the duration of a cold by about one day.
Several of the reviewed studies included people under intense physical stress, including marathon runners and soldier straining in the Arctic. Among these individuals, those who took vitamin C were about half as likely to catch a cold as those who did not take such supplements.
The human immune system in the body and the benefits of vitamin C
Human immune system protects the body against disease or other potentially damaging foreign bodies. The immune system is not limited in one single part of the body. It is rather made up of a network of cells, molecules, tissues, and organs working together to protect body with the series of actions.
Vitamin C benefits immune system in various way .
1) physical barriers
The skin is the initial and physical barriers in the body from foreign objects. And other barriers with specialized tissue layers like eyes, lung, bladder, and digestive system also blocks invaders from getting into the body.
Those barriers produce liquid like sweat, tears, and mucus to wash away the invaders. These liquids also contain enzymes that can kill bacteria.
Vitamin C support skin’s barrier against invaders by helping skin cells function and promotes the oxidant scavenging activity of the skin. vitamin C may also bolster the fatty membranes in skin and connective tissue, thus protecting organs like the lungs from pathogens.
2) The cells of immune system
Once the invadershave gotten into the body, various immune cells are working to fight infections and disease.
The cells generally defense against common pathogens (innate immune system), and sometimes target specific threats (adaptive immune system).
Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system.
* Innate immune system
Macropharge, known as the “big eater”, eats and destroys bacteria and other harmful cells.
Dendriticcells digest the foreign cells, and ‘mark’ it as invader to other immune cells recognize and destroy it.
The neutrophis (white blood cell) produce the chemicals to fight pathogens.
Vitamin C gathers these cells and enhances their functions.
It is also needed for the cleaning of the dead cells from sites of infection by macrophages, thereby decreasing potential tissue damage.
* Adaptive immune system
B cells release immune bodies to defend against invading cells. Each B cells programmed to make one specific type of antibody.
The killer T cells kill other infected cells and helper T cells send signal to boost other immune cells.
Vitamin C has been shown to enhance the cell regeneration of B- and T-cells.
Vitamin C deficiency results in impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections. In turn, infections significantly impact on vitamin C levels due to enhanced inflammation and metabolic requirements.
In short, the body relies on vitamin C to launch an effective immune response while sustaining minimal damage. However,the body cannot make its own vitamin C or store the nutrient efficiently, as the water-soluble vitamin dissolves once ingested and is excreted in the urine.