When it comes to vitamins, C, D and Zinc are some of the best known. But why exactly does the body like them so much and what role do they play in keeping us healthy? We’ll look through some of the latest clinical studies to understand the benefits of vitamin C, vitamin D and Zinc for today’s world.
Vitamin C and Skin
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, it is well known in the beauty industry for its amazing benefits for the skin. Vitamin C is required for the biosynthesis of collagen. Collagen is your skins best friend as it is a protein that is an essential component of connective tissue aka it keeps your skin looking tight and is also necessary for healing wounds on your skin. Taking care of your skin should be a priority as it acts as a protective barrier from invading pathogens. Did you know that your skin, just like your gut, has a colony of good bacteria that is responsible for inhibiting harmful bacteria taking over? With all that being said you may want to incorporate Vitamin C in your skin care routine!
Vitamin C and Cardiovascular Disease
We know that Vitamin C is a strong anti-oxidant and could be beneficial in protecting you against cardiovascular disease. Oxidative damage is a major cause of cardiovascular disease so, eating a diet high in antioxidants, such as consuming lots of fruits and vegetables, or supplementation of Vitamin C can potentially reduce risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Vitamin C: The Science
An analysis of 9 prospective studies that saw 293,172 participants found that people with no cardiovascular disease at baseline who supplemented ≥700 mg a day of Vitamin C over the course of 10 years had a 25% lower risk of coronary heart disease compared to those who took none at all. Who knew Vitamin C was such a triple threat?!
Vitamin C and the Immune System
Perhaps the most well documented benefit of vitamin C is its contribution to supporting a healthy immune response. It helps stimulate the production and healthy function of white blood cells, aka our infection fighting cells. When we get sick, especially durig the winter months, our Vitamin C levels drop to half their normal levels which is because our body requires more when fighting an infection. Vitamin C also plays a key role in helping your immune cells clear up the site where neutrophils and macrophages (types of white blood cells) killed off the infection, basically acting like a vacuum!
Vitamin C and the Immune System: The Science
A 2020 study by Lui et al, looked into the antimicrobial and immunomodulatory properties of high dose vitamin C. They found that high dose vitamin c (HIVC) had the ability to suppress cytokine storms caused by COVID-19, and helped to improve pulmonary function and reduce the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome related to COVID-19.
The most recent pilot study in Wuhan (2021) was carried out by Zhang et al, and saw critically-ill patients administered with high doses of Vitamin C. Results showed a reduction in mortality by 80%. The sample size was small, so more work needs to be done to understand exactly how potent vitamin C is when it comes to respiratory illness.
Vitamin D and Type 2 Diabetes
There is evidence to show that Vitamin D plays a role in the regulation of insulin. It does this by entering beta cells and through interacting with several type of receptors which bind together. The binding of receptors causes the activation of the insulin gene which increases the amount of insulin you make. Not only does Vitamin D increase the amount of insulin being produced but it also increases insulin sensitivity. This is a long and complex physiological process but to put it simply, the binding of receptors triggered by Vitamin D entering beta cells also increases the number of insulin receptors.
Vitamin D and Type 2 Diabetes: The Science
In 2019, a randomised controlled trial carried out by Lemieux, et al, published their findings on Vitamin D supplementation in high risk of or newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes patients. They found that supplementation of Vitamin D improved insulin sensitivity and could delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Vitamin D and the Immune System
Now let’s move onto vitamin D. During the summer months when the sun in shinning for hours on end, most of us get a sufficient amount of vitamin D from the sun. Unless you’re a hermit and like to stay inside all day in the summer- no judgement! The fact is, 1 in 4 people in the UK don’t have sufficient levels of vitamin D, especially during the winter months when sunlight is scarce. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin, so much so that the UK government has stated that it is essential to take, especially with everything that’s going on in the world. Vitamin D is essential for a functional immune system by activating anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties. The Vitamin D receptor is expressed on immune cells which include B cells, T cells and antigen presenting cells, therefore, being a vital part of both the adaptive and innate immune system. Vitamin D is also a mood booster. So, next time you feel a little grumpy and it’s been a while since you’ve stepped outside, you may just need your daily dose of vitamin D.
Vitamin D and the Immune System: The Science
A 2019 systematic review and meta-analysis of eight observational studies that included 20,966 subjects showed that low levels of Vitamin D were associated with an increased risk of pneumonia.
A recent study (2020, Kara, et al.) studied the effects of vitamin D prevalence against morbidity and mortality rates in people with COVID-19. Their findings show that countries that have a low prevalence of Vitamin D (factors to consider are diet, lifestyle and sunlight exposure) had a higher burden of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality.
Zinc and the Immune System
Finally, we are going to talk about zinc. It isn’t in the spotlight as much as vitamin C and vitamin D when it comes to immune support and we are unsure why it's not spoken about as much as it has just as big of a role to play. Zinc is essential for the function of macrophages, the cells that kills foreign microbes by engulfing them. Zinc is also crucial for the development and function of neutrophils and natural killer cells, names of white blood cells and are key in an immune response.
Zinc and the Immune System: The Science
Researchers showed (2019, Read, et al.) that zinc has vital role in anti-viral immunity. They showed that zinc inhibits something called RNA polymerase which is required by viruses to replicate, therefore exhibiting zinc’s potential role in defending the body against infection.
It’s pretty clear that providing your body with the nutrients, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc, is essential for proper physiological function. Here at Tonic Health, we aim to provide all the latest evidence, specifically related to immune health, to help get you feeling like your best self! If you want to learn more about Tonic Health and all things immunity head to our immunity hub or if you want to give Tonic a go, sample it for only £2.99.