We have supplemented our daughter with Vitamin C from a very early age, to help build her immune system. An added bonus with vitamin C is it can help children who suffer with constipation, sadly an all to common occurance in our children.
The information shared below comes from The Link Between Vitamin C And Optimal Immunity it is the best article I have seen to explain the many immunity boosting benefits that come from taking vitamin C - for the whole family. A wonderful movie I highly recommend is That Vitamin Movie which really opened my eyes to the wonders of this vitamin.
The Link Between Vitamin C And Optimal Immunity
Vitamin C deficiency has been associated with frequency and duration of colds, along with immune system defects. While colds aren’t usually dangerous in themselves, they can lead to pneumonia and other respiratory diseases, especially for aging individuals. Colds can be an early indicator of gaps in immune function that could leave one vulnerable to a cascade of serious infections.
A deficiency of vitamin C broadly affects the various key aspects of immune function, which include the innate system we are born with, the adaptive system that develops from infancy to young adulthood, the cells that kill invaders, the cells that coordinate those attacks, and even the production of antibodies that fight known infections.
As a result of vitamin C’s wide-ranging impact on the immune system, a deficiency could leave us vulnerable to infections. A weakened immune system caused by low vitamin C levels can make any infection more serious. This danger becomes more ominous in older adults, in whom the phenomenon of immunosenescence(the aging of the immune system) already heightens risk.
There are multiple causes of insufficient vitamin C. Aging is one major cause of lowered vitamin C levels. The concentration of vitamin C in immune cells decreases with age, partly the result of an increasingly oxidative environment that consumes vitamin C. This can lead to damage to DNA, proteins, and fat molecules needed for normal immune function.
Stress is another major trigger for reducing vitamin C levels, leaving the affected individuals vulnerable to infection at precisely the time that stronger immune support is needed.
Why The Immune System Depends On Vitamin C
One of the most important functions of vitamin C is to support and energize the body’s immune system. Immune cells have active vitamin C transporter molecules embedded in their membranes that actively pump the vitamin into the cells when more vitamin C is required.
For example, during times of inflammation or infection, those transporters ramp up their activity to provide sufficient vitamin C to the cells’ inner workings, causing cells to attain levels up to 100-fold that of the plasma level. This is why blood levels of vitamin C drop during times of disease or infection.
This can create a potentially vicious cycle in which, just when you need extra vitamin C, your body’s stores are depleted. This also makes it especially important to increase one’s intake of vitamin C when sick.
The content of vitamin C within immune cells is closely related to those cells’ activity, especially in the case of specific cells that engulf and destroy infecting organisms (phagocytes) and of those that recruit, organize, and direct other immune cells (T-lymphocytes).
Fortunately, you can improve your immune system’s function by supplementing with vitamin C. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin C is around 90 mg per day. For optimal immune function, many experts now recommend supplementing with 1 gram (1,000 mg) of vitamin C daily in addition to a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
Human studies have shown that this amount of vitamin C can not only reduce the duration and severity of the common cold—but can reduce the incidence of developing a cold as well. Not all common cold studies produce consistent results. This means more than vitamin C alone is needed to combat common colds, such as using the right dose of zinc as soon as cold symptoms manifest.
Reduce The Duration And Severity Of Colds
One of the best-known uses of vitamin C is in the prevention and treatment of the common cold.14 While for young people a cold is little more than a nuisance, in older adults, colds can herald the onset of serious bacterial infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis, both of which increase the risk of premature death.
There is no shortage of research demonstrating that vitamin C can reduce symptoms and shorten duration of the common cold. Studies show that vitamin C supplementation can reduce the duration of colds by anywhere from 5 to 21%.
Vitamin C supplementation has also been shown to significantly reduce the severity of cold symptoms. And in older people who require hospitalization for pneumonia and chronic bronchitis, even a dose of just 200 mg per day was shown to reduce the clinical severity of the illness.
Vitamin C Reduces Incidence Of Colds
While the evidence demonstrating the ability of vitamin C to reduce the duration and the severity of colds is clear, the question of whether vitamin C supplementation could also reduce the incidence (rate of occurrence) of colds has been fiercely debated. Newer studies using higher doses of vitamin C show that vitamin C can, in fact, reduce the incidence of colds.
Studies using 1,000 mg or more have shown that vitamin C reduces cold incidence by a remarkable 50% among people undergoing heavy stress, such as soldiers and athletes. These studies found that the people who had the lowest dietary intake of vitamin C had the greatest benefit.
In 2014, a study of vitamin C published in the journal Nutrients provided definitive evidence that vitamin C supplementation can reduce the incidence of the common cold in otherwise healthy people with chronic stress or obesity. The study included 18- to 35-year-old men who had vitamin C levels of less than 45 micromol/L (61 to 80 is considered adequate). The study lasted eight weeks, and scientists recorded scores on a physical activity scale and tracked the occurrence of cold episodes.
During the study, 85% of placebo recipients experienced a cold compared with just 47% of supplemented subjects, a statistically significant difference and a risk reduction of 45%.
Reduction in cold duration was also significant in the supplemented versus the control group, with supplemented subjects experiencing an average of 3.2 (59%) fewer days with cold symptoms than placebo subjects. Intriguingly, supplemented subjects’ physical activity scores also rose by 40% compared with placebo recipients, strongly suggesting that supplementation was correcting hidden symptoms of vitamin C depletion, such as fatigue and malaise.
Even more impressive, at least three controlled studies also show that vitamin C supplementation can reduce the incidence of pneumonia by as much as 80%. This is a crucial finding for older adults since the death rate for elderly people with pneumonia exceeds 16%, even with antibiotic treatment, highlighting the urgency of prevention.