Vitamin C: Essential for Your Immune System and More | 1MD Nutrition™

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Vitamin C: Essential for Your Immune System and More

Vitamin C is well-known for its immunity-supporting benefits. Here's a guide to how vitamin C benefits your whole body, and information on how to take it.

9 minute read

Last Updated March 18, 2022

Vitamin C: Essential for Your Immune System and More

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an essential mineral, which means your body is not able to produce it, and you need to get vitamin C from your food or supplements. Vitamin C plays many important roles in the body. Most commonly, this essential vitamin is known for supporting the immune system.

Vitamin C and Your Immune System

Vitamin C is utilized by tissues all over your body. It benefits the growth and repair of tissues as well as supporting heart, bone, and kidney health. It is the antioxidant power of vitamin C that gets the most attention, as this helps support healthy cellular aging and immune system function. 

The most common food sources for vitamin C are citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, and potatoes. Because your body does not store vitamin C for long, it is beneficial to also take supplements. This is especially true when you are looking to promote optimal immune health.

Vitamin C is a key player in the body’s immune responses. There are several ways this vitamin helps you maintain a well-functioning immune system.

♦ Vitamin C is mostly found in your white blood cells. These are also known as your immunity cells, and their purpose is to protect you from environmental threats. These cells contain more than 80 times the amount of vitamin C found anywhere else in the body.

♦ Vitamin C promotes the immune response by supporting lymphocyte production and activity . By promoting the activity of the T-lymphocytes your body is better able to defend against environmental and seasonal threats.

♦ Vitamin C helps strengthen epithelial tissue, which is the lining of the digestive and respiratory tracts and is the first main defense of our immune system. This physical barrier that keeps environmental threats out while allowing nutrients to freely pass.

♦ Vitamin C helps the body to recycle spent vitamin E, another important vitamin that supports T-cell production, important immune cells responsible for identifying and taking out problem cells.

♦ Vitamin C promotes nitrogen oxide production. Phagocytes produce nitrogen oxide in large quantities, which is a key component of defending against environmental threats.

♦ Vitamin C supports normal mucus production by increasing the fluid fatty secretions needed, allowing mucus to be easily coughed up normally and removed from obstructing respiratory pathways.

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Additional Health Benefits of Vitamin C

In addition to supporting your immunity, vitamin C provides several other health benefits. This water-soluble vitamin is instrumental in promoting bone, heart, kidney, and overall health. 

Support your heart: Vitamin C can help support healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels to promote heart health. with both. It can also support circulatory health by  relaxing the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart. 

Absorb more iron: Iron is an essential mineral used to make the red blood cells which deliver oxygen throughout your body. Vitamin C helps your body to absorb iron from your diet by converting it into a more easily absorbed version. 

Promote eye health: The cleansing properties of vitamin C are associated with supporting macular function and reducing occasional oxidative stress.  

Support cognitive health: The powerful antioxidant properties of vitamin C help reduce typical oxidative stress to support healthy cellular function in the brain and healthy aging.

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The Right Dosage of Vitamin C

The amount of daily vitamin C you need will depend on your age and gender. You should always consult your doctor regarding the recommended dosage, especially when taking supplements that contain the vitamin. In general, the daily recommended amount of vitamin C is below:

♦ Females aged 14 to 18: 65 milligrams per day
♦ Females aged 19 and over: 120 milligrams per day
♦ Males aged 14 to 18: 75 milligrams per day
♦ Males aged 19 and over: 120 milligrams per day

When you are looking for supplements, make sure you get only those that contain naturally-sourced and clinically-studied ingredients. Not all vitamin C supplements are the same quality.

Be aware that you can also get different forms of vitamin C, such as L-ascorbic acid and supplements that combine the vitamin with other minerals like calcium and sodium. Avoid any supplements that have any non-essential added ingredients.

Side Effects and Warnings

As beneficial as vitamin C is, there are some circumstances where it should not be taken. For the most part, vitamin C is safe to consume, but you should not take vitamin C if:

♦ You have kidney or liver conditions
♦ You are allergic to ascorbic acid
♦ You are pregnant (consult your doctor as to the recommended dose as it will vary from the general amount)

Too much vitamin C can cause a condition known as hyperoxaluria. This is a very serious condition where too much oxalic acid is excreted in your urine, risking the formation of kidney stones.

Some people may also experience mild side effects from taking vitamin C, including:

♦ Headache
♦ Upset stomach
♦ Diarrhea
♦ Feeling lightheaded
♦ Flushed skin

Vitamin C can also interact with certain medications and other supplements, so you need to consult your doctor before taking any. It is also recommended to limit alcohol consumption when taking vitamin C because it diminishes the ability of your body to absorb the nutrient.

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The Bottom Line

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that supports your heart, vision, bones, and, most importantly, your immune system, it is a vitamin you do not want to miss out on. Because it is water-soluble, your body does not hold it for long, so you need to maintain optimal levels through supplements. 

Vitamin C is a great way to promote overall health and to support your immune system so it can better defend against environmental threats. It is time to get better acquainted with this water-soluble vitamin so you can enjoy your best health.