During this uncertain time many of us are eager to take whatever steps we can, to strengthen our immune health. Claims and counterclaims are being widely made about which nutrients we can and cannot rely on to evidentially support our immune system.
So, what place should vitamin C have in your efforts to live healthily and provide your immune system with the best possible position to fight off viruses?
Understanding What Vitamin C Is, and What It Isn’t
It is important to appreciate that while vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and an essential micronutrient for the immune system, it can never guarantee that you do not suffer from a common cold, and much the same can be said for SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for causing COVID-19.
After all, COVID-19 is a new infectious disease, for which there is not currently any specific cure, antiviral or vaccine. You are therefore entirely dependent on your body’s immune system to fight it off, and the more tools that your immune system has, the better. Vitamin C is just one of these tools to hand, that we can utilise to strengthen our immune system.
Vitamin C’s role, then, is as a co-factor, which the body requires in order to catalyse enzyme reactions for both the innate and adaptive immune systems.
How Exactly Does Vitamin C Help?
There are various ways in which vitamin C helps our immune system to function more efficiently. It supports the skin (epithelial cell), for example, as a barrier warding off pathogens from entering the body. It also boosts the skin’s antioxidant activity, thereby helping to protect against environmental oxidative stress, in addition to bolstering neutrophil reactions (white blood cells) for phagocytosis of pathogens and microbes.
Other forms of support that vitamin C provides for the immune system include the promotion of apoptosis or programmed cell death and the clearing of all neutralised pathogens preventing tissue damage. It also amplifies B and T cell proliferation by gene regulation.
So, while you certainly can’t guarantee that you won’t contract a virus simply by taking more vitamin C, there can be consequences if you don’t have enough of it. Vitamin C deficiency is associated with impaired immune system response and a greater risk of infection.
Furthermore, if you do become infected, you will require more vitamin C due to heightened body inflammation and metabolic demand. Tonic Health contains the highest dose of Vitamin C on the market, with Vitamin D, Zinc and plant extracts too. One sachet of Tonic Health is the equivalent vitamin content as eating 21 oranges!
What Else Does the Science Tell Us About Vitamin C?
Various studies down the years have indicated the potential worth of vitamin C in helping to guard against and treat infection; a 2013 review of several dozen studies, for instance, found evidence for vitamin C supplements reducing the duration of colds in the general population.
According to that review, taking vitamin C supplements during a cold could shorten the illness’s duration by 8% in adults and 14% in children – the equivalent of about one day.
Researchers at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University have also launched a clinical trial to investigate whether vitamin C could help to reduce symptoms and improve outcomes for COVID-19 sufferers. However, the trial will not be completed until September, and at the time of typing, no results were yet available. More information about it’s usage to fight the corona virus in New York too, can be found here.
In the absence, then, of further information specifically linking vitamin C’s immune effectiveness to the latest coronavirus outbreak, we would urge you to continue following our previously published immunity-supporting tips, in addition to the latest guidance from the NHS.