Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and an essential micronutrient for the immune system. It acts as a co-factor, which our immune system requires to catalyse enzyme reactions for both the innate and adaptive immune systems. Vitamin C is required for our immune system to work efficiently in several different ways by:
- Supporting the skin (epithelial cell) as a barrier preventing pathogens from entering the body.
- Protecting against environmental oxidative stress by boosting antioxidant activity in the skin
- Boosting neutrophil reactions (white blood cells) for phagocytosis of pathogens and microbes.
- Promoting apoptosis or programmed cell death and clearing of all neutralized pathogens preventing tissue damage.
- Amplifying B and T cell (other white blood cells) proliferation by gene regulation.
From the days of scurvy, we know that deficiency of vitamin C leads to an impaired immune system and increased infections. But having an infection means that you require more vitamin C due to the increase in inflammation and metabolic demand.
Can it help us? Well, more research is needed, but scientifically it does help the immune system to work efficiently.
Written by Toral Shah. Toral Shah a Nutritional Scientist (MSc Nutr Med). She specialises in optimising health and disease prevention through improving food, diet and lifestyle. She uses evidence-based science knowledge along with lifestyle medicine and cooking skills to help support others to lead a healthier life by eating delicious and nutritious food.