Vitamin C and the Body’s First Line Immune Defense

Vitamin C is an essential vitamin for immunity, and it is not able to be produced by our body internally. We need to get it from food or supplements, the convenient way. Vitamin C has been linked to many impressive health benefits. We usually grab a bottle of vitamin C from a pharmacy when we need to boost our immunity especially during a cold and flu season, or to expedite the healing of a wound when we have an injury. A person with low immunity is more susceptible to infections. A  healthy immune system helps to defend the body against harmful pathogens and it is also the key to regulate inflammation in our body.

 

The first line of defense in our body is called the innate immune system which immediately protects our body from harmful pathogens. When any foreign invaders breach our body’s defense system, our innate immunity will be alerted. It immediately prevents the movement and spread of the foreign pathogens throughout the body. The innate immune system quickly recognizes the site of where a pathogen invades and neutralizes  the pathogen as soon as possible.

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Its additional antioxidant property makes it extremely beneficial in clearing free radicals used by the immune cells to deactivate the pathogen but at the same time cause inflammation and harm to our body if it is not properly modulated. Thus, vitamin C is necessary for the immune system to mount and sustain an adequate response against pathogens, whilst avoiding excessive damage to the host. Thirdly, vitamin C plays an essential role in the skin’s defense system. It assists in the formation of collagen, the most important protein in preserving the integrity of the skin barrier. Inadequate amounts of vitamin C leads to a weak collagen layer that can cause the inner skin to be damaged easily, increasing the risk of pathogen invasion into the body. In short, vitamin C boosts immunity by helping the white blood cells to function more effectively while strengthening the skin's defense system.

Double Up Your Immunity With Zinc

Zinc is a mineral with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It works synergistically with vitamin C. Deficiency of zinc  is shown to impair the immune cells to clear-off the pathogens and generate ROS. Zinc is effective in fighting colds by preventing the rhinovirus (the virus that causes cold) from multiplying. It prevents the rhinovirus adhering to the mucous membranes of the throat and nose.  Additionally, it inhibits the growth and stops the reproduction of this pathogen.

 

Consuming zinc along with vitamin C enhances the benefits in promoting a healthy immune system. Vitamin C and zinc complement each other in enhancing the immune function. Together they  modulate the host resistance to  reduce the risk, severity and duration of infections.  It is well-known that vitamin C and zinc are better and more quickly absorbed in an effervescent formulation leading to better efficacy, as compared to capsules or tablets. Some ingredients in an effervescent formulation are able to buffer the acidity of vitamin C, which makes it less irritating to the stomach. Vitamin C and zinc in effervescent form is convenient and tasty. It is easy for people who do not prefer swallowing tablets.

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In general, vitamin C is safe for everyone's consumption. However, it is wise to choose the right vitamin C for your health needs. For individuals with compromised kidney function, Kordel’s Ester C® is recommended. It is an acid free formulation which causes less discomfort to the gastrointestinal tract and has the ability to reduce oxalate levels to prevent kidney stones formation. It uses a unique form of vitamin combining with its metabolite, threonates, that helps higher vitamin C absorption from the digestive tract to the circulation. Thus, resulting in 4 times better bioavailability and absorption than ascorbic acid. It retains longer in the body and is proven to stay as long as 24 hours in the white blood cells to provide a 24 hours immune protection. 

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According to experts, vitamin C is one of the safest and most effective nutrients. Even though it may not cure the common cold, the benefits of vitamin C may include protection against immune system deficiencies and strengthening the skin’s defense system. The maximum amount you can take in a day that is unlikely to cause any harm is 2000mg a day for adults.

Vitamin C encourages the production of white blood cells such as macrophages and neutrophils. These immune cells engulf and kill the microbes with ROS free radicals. While these free radicals are important  to ward-off the pathogens,  excessive production of them may cause some side effects, such as fever, sore throat, coughing or more seriously, lung damage such as pneumonia.  Besides helping the body to make more vitamin C, it has a strong antioxidant property to  protect the host tissue from this excessive oxidative damage.

COVID-19, flu and cold have similarities in their symptoms, which are hard to distinguish. The common symptoms in these 3 viral infections are fever, tiredness, cough and body aches. Symptoms which are unique to COVID-19 are shortness of breath and loss of sense of smell or taste. If we have runny nose or itchy eyes, it does not mean we have COVID-19. Not all symptoms are equal as they are caused by different strains of viruses.  Regardless, our immune system is our best bet to combat any of these respiration viruses and bacterias. It is therefore important to build our immunity while we are trying to adapt ourselves to the new norm in this pandemic.