For DEEP IMMUNE SUPPORT, vitamin C with bioflavonoids boosts long-term immunity and provides essential nutrition for immune cell function. Vitamin C enhances antibody production, and it is essential for healthy adrenal stress and immune regulation. Ample vitamin C and bioflavonoids can reduce acute infection rates, and cut the risks of chronic degenerative and autoimmune disorders including cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, contributes to immune defense by supporting functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system. The sciences of nutrition and immunology are tightly linked, since better nutritional status can improve the actions of the immune system. More than half a century of research has shown vitamin C to be a crucial player in immune cell function, and in many aspects of the immune system.
The human immune system is broadly divided into two components: innate and adaptive immunity. Innate immunity is an inborn, natural, immediate response to foreign invaders. Adaptive immunity requires more time as the body develops complex responses and memorization of pathogens. An example of adaptive immunity is the body’s ability to recognize a specific cold virus. With repeated exposure, the immune system can mount an effective response and destroy the virus without cold symptoms occurring.
The immune system is a sophisticated network of specialized organs, tissues, cells, proteins, and chemicals. These all work together to protect the human body from a vast range of pathogens. In addition to invaders such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites, the body is also under attack from environmental toxins, smoke, and even allergens. The immune system also guards against and removes abnormal or deformed cells which could increase degenerative organ disease or cancer risk.
A functional immune system must be able to recognize foreign invaders and abnormal cells, and to distinguish the good from the bad. A key component of the immune response is inflammation, which at a healthy level is essential to heal wounds and fight off unwanted invaders. However, in its zeal to battle invading pathogens and protect the body, excessive inflammation can damage the host tissues. Vitamin C helps to maintain appropriate levels of inflammation.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble, essential nutrient that cannot be synthesized by humans, yet it is critically important for a host of metabolic processes. It must be ingested and is found in fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C offers deep immune support via a number of mechanisms:
- Vitamin C supports the epithelial barrier function of the skin against pathogens, as it is essential for collagen formation.
- It promotes oxidant scavenging activity within the skin, thus protecting underlying tissues against environmental oxidative stress.
- Phagocytes are cells that protect the body by ingesting harmful foreign particles, bacteria, and dead or dying cells. Vitamin C accumulates in these cells, protecting their integrity and enhancing their effectiveness.
- When immune cells kill pathogens, they generate reactive oxygen species as a byproduct. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes these free radicals and thereby protects the immune system against potential tissue damage.
- Vitamin C has important gene regulatory functions. It has been shown to enhance the development and proliferation of B- and T- white blood cells, known as “helper” immune system cells.
- Vitamin C increases serum levels of antibodies–proteins that attach to foreign or unwanted invaders–so that white blood cells can remove them.
- The adrenal glands need ample vitamin C to make their stress-support hormones. These prepare the body for action, maintain stamina and energy reserves, and enhance healthy immune function.
- Vitamin C is needed in the metabolism of immune mediators including histamine, prostaglandins, and cysteinyl leukotrienes. Thus it is a foundational ingredient for healthy immunity.
Several studies have shown how vitamin C supplementation stimulates both the number and the activity of leukocytes, or white blood cells. In one study of 45 healthy male university students, 25 of them ingested 1,000 mg of vitamin C per day for a period of 75 days; 20 students received no extra-dietary vitamin C. The results showed that “ascorbic acid supplementation caused a statistically significant increase in the serum levels of IgA, IgM and C-3 complement.” 1 These are key proteins required for healthy immunity.
Neutrophils, the white blood cells which attack foreign bacteria and viruses, seem to be the primary cell type stimulated by vitamin C, but lymphocytes and other phagocyte white cells are also helped. A 2015 study confirmed vitamin C’s beneficial effect on neutrophil function. Supplementation with vitamin C of approximately 259mg per day for four weeks increased plasma and neutrophil vitamin C concentration in 14 young men who began with suboptimal vitamin C status.2 Improvements were seen in neutrophil chemotaxis, where these white cells are chemically attracted to clean up foreign material. Also, antioxidant generation was improved.
Antibodies, the proteins released by the immune system that bind to invaders or unwanted substances, are also boosted by vitamin C. Several studies have shown that vitamin C increases serum levels of antibodies. Humans and several other mammals are dependent on ingesting vitamin C. One study looked at the blood’s immune response between two groups of test subjects, on regular diets or with supplemental vitamin C. The findings indicated that the primary antibody response of the vitamin C-supplemented subjects was better than controls in two respects, both statistically significant. The researchers concluded: “The peak antibody titer was both higher and occurred earlier in the test subjects … suggesting that vitamin C stimulates the elaboration of Ig M-type antibodies in particular.” 3
A 2002 research study looked at vitamin C’s role in supporting epithelial barrier function and its oxidant scavenging activity of the skin. Vitamin C oral supplements of 500 mg per day were taken by 12 volunteers for 8 weeks. The results showed significant rises in plasma and skin vitamin C content.4 This confirms that vitamin C strengthens the skin’s ability to act as a barrier to keep microbial invaders out, and also helps the capacity of the skin to neutralize harmful oxidative substances. Long-term, vitamin C has a long history and important role for reducing the risk of chronic autoimmune disorders.
Bioflavonoids are plant pigments that give fruits and flowers their colors and are a crucial component in nature of the vitamin C complex, so it is preferable to use them together. Bioflavonoids enhance the absorption of vitamin C and improve its utilization throughout the body. In addition, for immunity clinical evidence indicates that the flavonoids have anti-inflammatory actions, act as antioxidants, and modulate gene expression to support healthy enzyme activity.5
In our clinic, many patients take 1,000 to 2,000mg daily of vitamin C, buffered with minerals for better absorption. These people report fewer and shorter respiratory infections, and reduced symptoms from autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or polymyalgia. They like the potential long-term immune protection against abnormal cell development and cancer risk.
Recommendation: Buffered vitamin C 1,000mg, buffered with magnesium and/or potassium, and including citrus Bioflavonoids 200mg, taken with any meals, one to three doses daily; or as directed by your healthcare provider.
- Prinz, Wetal, et al. “The effect of ascorbic acid supplementation on some parameters of the human immunological defence system.” International journal for vitamin and nutrition research. Internationale Zeitschrift fur Vitamin-und Ernahrungsforschung. Journal international de vitaminologie et de nutrition 47.3 (1977): 248-257.
- Bozonet SM, Carr AC, Pullar JM, Vissers MC. Enhanced human neutrophil vitamin C status, chemotaxis and oxidant generation following dietary supplementation with vitamin C-rich SunGold kiwifruit. Nutrients. 2015;7(4):2574-2588.
- Prinz, W., et al. “A systematic study of the effect of vitamin C supplementation on the humoral immune response in ascorbate-dependent mammals. I. The antibody response to sheep red blood cells (a T-dependent antigen) in guinea pigs.” International journal for vitamin and nutrition research. Internationale Zeitschrift fur Vitamin-und Ernahrungsforschung. Journal international de vitaminologie et de nutrition 50.3 (1980): 294-300.
- McArdle, F., et al. “UVR-induced oxidative stress in human skin in vivo: effects of oral vitamin C supplementation.” Free Radical Biology and Medicine 33.10 (2002): 1355-1362.
- Pérez-Cano, Francisco, and Margarida Castell. “Flavonoids, inflammation and immune system.” (2016): 659.
- Parkin, J.; Cohen, B. An overview of the immune system. Lancet 2001, 357, 1777–1789..
- Webb, A.L.; Villamor, E. Update: Effects of antioxidant and non-antioxidant vitamin supplementation on immune function. Nutr. Rev. 2007, 65, 181.
- Carr, Anitra C., and Silvia Maggini. “Vitamin C and immune function.” Nutrients 9.11 (2017): 1211.
- Jariwalla RJ, Harakeh S. Antiviral and immunomodulatory activities of ascorbic acid. In: Harris JR, ed. Subcellular Biochemistry. Ascorbic Acid: Biochemistry and Biomedical Cell Biology. New York: Plenum Press; 1996:215-231.