There are a few things you need to know about taking vitamin C and immune response. Getting vitamin C for immune support is old advice and good advice. vitamin C is one of the most important nutrients for our immune response – bar none. I hope everyone is getting vitamin C to help build their immune response. Let’s talk about what vitamin C does do and what most people don’t realize.
Studies have shown how great vitamin C is for the immune response. One double blind, clinical study found that:
“Vitamin C in megadoses administered before or after the appearance of cold and flu symptoms relieved and prevented symptoms in the test population compared with the control group.”(1)
Getting your daily vitamin C is common advice but it’s good advice. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient because your body doesn’t make it and doesn’t store it, so you need to make sure you’re getting plenty of it daily. It’s critical for building a healthy immune response but it’s not as simple as taking a cheap supplement every time you feel a cold coming on.
Vitamin C Supplements
In fact, don’t take that cheap supplement – ever. They have unnecessary ingredients and fillers that are the complete opposite of healthy. Common ingredients include maltodextrin which is a filler made from GMO corn, rice or wheat. They also have ascorbic acid which is frequently made from GMO corn. Many popular brands also have sugars or dyes. Why add all this garbage to your body when you are trying to be healthy? If you have to take a supplement, take one that is made from whole foods.
Most of the time you won’t need to take a supplement. Vitamin C is common in lots of fruits and vegetables and that’s the best way to get your nutrients. Don’t like fruits and vegetables? You need to rethink your relationship with them.
Many vegetables that have other nutrients you need also have lots of vitamin C like kale, Brussels sprouts, beet greens and peppers. Food is what fuels you and whole foods are the best fuel. Did you know vitamin C helps your body absorb iron? You can’t eat Doritos and Mountain Dew all the time and make up for it with a supplement. In fact, if you eat lots of sugary, processed foods it makes it harder for your body to use those supplements.
Sugar and Immune Response
Studies have shown that eating too much sugar is bad for your immune response. One study looked at eating too much sugar and its effect on the innate immune response and found:
“In summary, acute hyperglycemia can significantly alter innate immune responses to infection and this potentially explains some of the poor outcomes in hospitalized patients who experience hyperglycemia.” (2)
What does sugar have to do with vitamin C and immune response? Not only does sugar cause inflammation but it’s bad for your immune cells. Let’s look at how it affects one type of your white blood cells, neutrophils, which are one of the many cells that are part of your immune response. All your cells have receptors which allow for different substances to enter them. Glut1 is a receptor that lets sugar in and Vitamin C. If you eat lots of sugar those receptors are taken up by sugar which oxidizes the cell while not letting vitamin C, an antioxidant in. Oxidization is basically the rusting of your cell and vitamin C is critical for keeping your cells from rusting. If your white blood cells rust and die, then you have fewer to fight infection. That makes it harder for your body to fight off any virus even if you’re taking vitamin C.
And like I said, sugar is very inflammatory which means your body has to fight inflammation and inflammation can damage your gut. Your gut is very important for your immune response and vitamin C.
Gut Health and Immune Response
You can take all the supplements you want but if your gut health is bad then you won’t absorb the nutrients you need. If you are eating crappy processed foods and other inflammatory foods, it’s going to leave your gut a mess. Some of the garbage in those cheap supplements are very inflammatory. Taking vitamin C supplements will just be a waste of money.
Make sure you are taking care of your gut by eating whole foods, avoiding your allergies, skipping inflammatory foods and eating fermented foods. Did you know there is a great fermented food that also has lots of vitamin C? It’s sauerkraut! Not everyone likes it but if you eat it enough you will start to crave it.
Vitamin C Foods for Your Smoothie
You don’t need to have a glass of orange juice to get your vitamin C. In fact, don’t drink orange juice because it is loaded with sugar and has no fiber. Have a smoothie instead. If your smoothie has a few servings of fruits and vegetables like kiwi, kale, beet greens or strawberries then there is a good chance that you are getting the recommended daily allowance. You can boost the amount of vitamin C by adding one of these three vitamin C superfoods.
Camu Camu – I love this superfood. A teaspoon of camu camu powder has 200 times as much vitamin C as a banana and 200 times more than an orange. It’s sour so don’t add it to a chocolate or peanut butter type smoothie. This is great in a fruit smoothie.
Kakadu Plums – This antioxidant fruit comes to us from Australia and can also be gotten in powder form for smoothies. Not only is this fruit high in vitamin C but it’s also high in iron.
Acerola Cherries – These cherries are sweet and a great addition to a smoothie for lots of vitamin C.
Getting your vitamin C from whole foods is ideal for great immune support.
Vitamin C and Building Immune Response
What do you need to know about vitamin C and immune response? Taking vitamin C alone won’t keep you from getting sick or boost your immune system. Like I have said before, there is no magic pill for building an immune response. Vitamin C is a critical component of building that immune response, but you also need to give your body what it needs. Support your immune response, avoid sugar and eat healthy vitamin C rich foods.
Written by Dr. Patrick Flynn
Learn more about building an immune response in this video with Dr. Patrick Flynn: