Vitamin C for the Immune System: Does It Actually Work?

From the time you were young, your mom’s been telling you to drink your orange juice because it contains vitamin C. Vitamin C is supposed to boost your immune system and prevent you from getting sick. Does this actually work? How does Vitamin C help your immune system? Is this an old wives’ tale?
In this blog, we’ll discuss using vitamin C for immune system support and how you can maximize its effects. Here’s what you need to know. 

What is Vitamin C? 

Vitamin C is an essential vitamin, which means your body isn’t capable of producing it. However, studies have linked it to positive health benefits, which is why there’s a recommended daily intake. For women, this recommended daily intake is 75 mg of vitamin C. For men, the recommended daily intake is 90 mg of vitamin C. 

Vitamin C can be found in fruits and vegetables, which means many people get their daily intake without even trying. You can find vitamin C in oranges, strawberries, kiwi, bell peppers, broccoli, kale, and spinach. However, if you find that you’re not hitting your recommended daily intake, then a supplement may be in order. Always check with your doctor before adding supplements to your diet. 

Vitamin C For Immune System Healthy Fruits and Vegetables Spread on White Background

Does Vitamin C Boost Immune System? 

Although vitamin C is an essential nutrient, it cannot be synthesized by humans due to a loss of key enzymes in the biosynthetic pathway. In fact, when vitamin C deficiency occurs, it results in a potentially fatal disease called scurvy. This disease is characterized by the weakening of collagenous structures, poor wound healing, and impaired immunity. Only about 10 mg of vitamin C is necessary per day to prevent scurvy, but dietitians often recommend more because it helps reduce the risk of chronic disease. 

Vitamin C can help boost your immune system in all of the following ways. 

  • Growth and repair of tissues all over the body
  • Heal wounds
  • Maintain healthy bones, teeth, skin, and cartilage 
  • Fight free radicals in the body 
    • This can help prevent or delay cancers and heart disease
  • Promote healthy aging 
  • Decrease the length of cold symptoms 

How Else Does Vitamin C Benefit Your Body? 

Intentionally increasing your vitamin C intake doesn’t stop at benefiting your immune system (although that’s a huge part of what they do!). And you can never put enough stock into strengthening your body’s natural defenses. 

    1. Vitamin C may reduce your risk of chronic disease
      As mentioned above, antioxidants can prevent or delay chronic diseases like cancers and heart disease by protecting your cells from harmful molecules called free radicals. Free radicals will accumulate and promote a state known as oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been linked to chronic diseases. In addition, increasing your vitamin C consumption can increase your blood antioxidant levels by as much as 30 percent and help your body naturally fight off inflammation. If you know these types of chronic disease run in your family (or if you just want to be safe), it’s advantageous to take the daily recommended amount.

    2. Vitamin C may help with high blood pressure
      Vitamin C can help lower blood pressure in both those with and without high blood pressure. High blood pressure occurs in roughly 1 in 3 American adults and increases the risk of heart disease. Adults who take a vitamin C supplement are found to have lower average blood pressure than adults who do not. While you should not rely on vitamin C for standalone treatment for high blood pressure, this is a promising way to lower your blood pressure along with other advice from your healthcare provider. 

    3. Vitamin C may reduce blood uric acid levels
      Uric acid is a waste product produced by the body. When it is found in the body at high levels, it can crystallize and deposit in the joints. This typically causes gout symptoms and attacks. Gout is a type of arthritis found in about 4 percent of American adults. If vitamin C is increased, the uric acid levels in the blood can be reduced and prevent symptoms. 

    4. Vitamin C prevents iron deficiency
      Vitamin C can help improve the absorption of iron from the diet. Iron is a crucial nutrient for making red blood cells and transporting oxygen throughout the body. If you consume 100 mg of vitamin C, you can improve iron absorption by 67 percent and that can help reduce the risk of anemia among people prone to iron deficiency.

    5. Vitamin C protects memory and thinking as you age
      Research shows that oxidative stress and inflammation near the brain, spine, and nerves can increase the risk of dementia. Furthermore, low levels of vitamin C have been linked to impaired ability to think and remember. Because vitamin C can help resolve this naturally, increasing supplements have been shown to aid against conditions like dementia, a broad term that describes symptoms of poor thinking and memory. 

    Final Thoughts 

    Vitamin C is an optimal way to boost your immune system and also benefit specific elements of your health. Talk to your healthcare provider about taking a vitamin C supplement or add more vitamin C-rich foods into your diet. 

    Looking for other vitamins to boost your immune system? It doesn’t stop with vitamin C! Read our Vitamins to Boost your Immune System blog for more ways to stay healthy during the upcoming cold and flu season.


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