Does Vitamin C Boost Your Immune System

What Are the Best Sources of Vitamin C?

Vitamin C and the immune system go hand in hand, which is why it’s important you get enough of it. However, the body doesn’t naturally make Vitamin C. Instead, you must eat nutrient-rich foods, including fruits and vegetables, like kiwi, strawberries, kale, spinach, broccoli and bell peppers, to get it.


Does Vitamin C boost your immune system? Research shows it does. This is why it’s even more critical to ensure your diet contains enough Vitamin C. The Office of Dietary Supplements suggests men should receive 90 mg of Vitamin C daily, while women should receive 75 mg daily.


Most experts recommend your Vitamin C intake come from food. However, some people find it difficult to get enough that way. Sometimes, it’s best to incorporate a Vitamin C supplement for added support. 

Why It’s Important to Eat Foods That Have Vitamin C

Many animals are capable of producing Vitamin C, but humans cannot. Primates are incapable of synthesizing Vitamin C and ascorbic acid due to a lack of the enzyme L-gulono-y-lactone oxidase. Ascorbic acid is needed for hydroxylases function. Without it, the prolyl hydroxylase function is reduced. 


This information was initially discovered in the 1950s and 1960s.  Since then, further studies have been done that continue to back up the Vitamin C biosynthesis issues in mammals.


Because we are unable to make this vital nutrient on our own, we must eat Vitamin C foods for daily support. Otherwise, a Vitamin C deficiency is inevitable. Still, many people struggle to get the recommended daily amount through food, and must use supplements to help.

What Foods Have a Lot Of Vitamin C?

Most fruits and vegetables contain adequate amounts of Vitamin C. Because of the connection between Vitamin C and the immune system; it’s vital that you add as many of these to your diet as possible. 

Thankfully, the wide variety of available options makes it easy to choose foods you will enjoy. You can also get creative with your recipes to incorporate many Vitamin C-rich foods into your menu plan. Before deciding what to eat each day, ask yourself, which vegetables have the most Vitamin C?


What specific foods contain high Vitamin C levels? These are some of our favorite Vitamin C enriched foods to incorporate into your diet:

Acerola Cherries

A half-cup of red acerola cherries will provide 822 mg of Vitamin C. But if you don’t enjoy the taste of these cherries, you might consider turning it into a salsa instead. 

Rose Hips

Rose hips come from the rose plant. They’re sweet and tangy and jam-packed with Vitamin C — six rose hips provide about 119 mg. Rose hips have been found to have large amounts of carotenoids, Vitamin E and polyphenols as well. Some people drink rosehip tea as a daily source of Vitamin C. 

Broccoli

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable. Each half-cup of cooked broccoli offers 51 mg of Vitamin C. Eating broccoli will help lower oxidative stress and help you take advantage of Vitamin C’s immune system help. A study watched young men who smoked as they ate steamed broccoli for ten days. Results showed a reduction in inflammatory marker C-reactive proteins. Enjoy citrus and ginger roasted broccoli.  

Guavas

The guava is a tropical fruit that contains a pink flesh. It is found in South America and Mexico. One guava contains about 126 mg of Vitamin C and is high in lycopene. One study showed that healthy people who ate 400 grams of the fruit each day had lower blood pressure and dropped cholesterol levels. Consider trying guava cheese turnovers

Thyme

If you want to add some Vitamin C to your everyday dishes, consider using thyme. Fresh thyme contains more Vitamin C than oranges when compared gram for gram. In fact, one ounce contains 45 mg of Vitamin C. By sprinkling just two tablespoons to your meal, you can easily add seven mg to the dish.

Kiwis

The kiwi contains 71 mg of Vitamin C. These high levels can help reduce oxidative stress, improve your body’s immune system and lower cholesterol. One study showed that people eating two to three kiwi each day for nearly a month reduced triglycerides and blood platelet stickiness. Consider trying a kiwi and lime soup as a refreshing meal that offers Vitamin C and immune system support.

Kale

The cruciferous vegetable, kale, provides 80 mg of Vitamin C. It also features high levels of lutein, zeaxanthin and Vitamin K. If you prefer cooked kale, you can still receive 53 mg from one cup. Eating a kale citrus salad is a great way to get more Vitamin C. 

Brussel Sprouts

A half-cup of cooked Brussels sprouts offers 49 mg of Vitamin C. This vegetable is also high in Vitamin K, fiber, Vitamin A, potassium and manganese. Studies show how this food reduces oxidative DNA damage. For more Vitamin C, make a winter salad with Brussels sprouts and citrus

Oranges

With one medium orange, you can acquire 70 mg of Vitamin C. Oranges also contain high levels of phenolic, carotenoids and citric acid, which promote strong heart health and prevent anemia. If you’re cooking for a family or want to make something that will create leftovers, try making orange chicken

Lemons

One raw lemon, with the peel on, offers 83 mg of Vitamin C. Back in the 1700s, lemons were a popular option for sailors suffering from scurvy. Plus, lemon juice is considered a strong antioxidant. To create even more nutrients, consider cooking lemon pepper mushrooms

Do Vitamin C Supplements Help Your Immune System?

So, does Vitamin C support your immune system or not? It’s been shown to decrease inflammation, boost collagen production and destroy harmful bacteria. Studies also show the vitamin promotes the spread of lymphocytes, which increases antibodies and can protect your body from harmful invaders.


More specifically, does Vitamin C help with a cold? In research done regarding Vitamin C and cold prevention, it doesn’t seem to make you any less likely to get the common cold but might help you recover faster and experience fewer symptoms. Evidence suggests that higher doses of Vitamin C could reduce lung inflammation in some respiratory illnesses. 


Looking at the Vitamin C benefits, it’s clear it’s a vital aspect of general well-being. Vitamin C may not prevent all diseases, but it surely helps boost the immune system by promoting better overall health.

Does Vitamin C Help Fight Viruses?

Is Vitamin C good for the flu and can Vitamin C help the immune system in general? These are questions that have been heavily researched.


We see that Vitamin C and immune system support go hand-in-hand. In your body, the white blood cells take part in protecting the immune system. These cells fight off bacteria and illnesses to keep you healthy. Research shows that Vitamin C helps stimulate white blood cell production. 


Additionally, Vitamin C can produce antibodies, which are proteins required to neutralize invading microbes. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant that enables white blood cells to fight pathogens.

 

So, why does Vitamin C help the immune system? By supporting, producing and maintaining white blood cells, the body is set up to have better protection against illness. But the use of Vitamin C against viruses goes deeper than white blood cells. We also see that Vitamin C boosts the health of your skin and mucous membranes, which further protect against disease. To provide optimal Vitamin C immune support, you want to incorporate this nutrient into your diet or add a supplement. 

Vitamin C and COVID-19

Does Vitamin C strengthen the immune system? There’s no question it does. But that doesn’t mean Vitamin C is effective against COVID-19? Researchers have been working hard to find treatments and prevention to the coronavirus, but more research is needed. Here’s what we know so far:


High Vitamin C doses have been given during studies to improve lung function, which is a need many COVID-19 patients have. Still, it’s important to remember that Vitamin C is not a standardized part of regular COVID-19 treatment at this time. Researchers are continuing to study the effects of Vitamin C on patients to determine if supplementation might assist the recovery process.


However, we do know that it’s possible to use a Vitamin C supplement for immune system support. Any time that you boost your immune system, you put yourself in a better position to fight off diseases. 

Vitamin C Deficiency Diseases List

The Office of Dietary Supplements lists several conditions that occur from Vitamin C deficiency. Because the body doesn’t produce Vitamin C on its own, not getting it through your diet can be a real problem.


One of the most well-known — although extreme — Vitamin C deficiency symptoms is scurvy. This condition leads to inflammation of the gums, fatigue, spots on the skin, corkscrew hairs, poor wound healing and joint pain. It can also cause depression and loss of teeth. People who suffer from scurvy can also experience anemia, which can be life-threatening if not treated.


The best way to prevent these conditions is to use Vitamin C for immune system support. If you aren’t able to get the recommended amount through your diet, consider a high-quality supplement instead.

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