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How Vitamin C Actually Works with the Immune System

How Vitamin C Actually Works with the Immune System

April 07, 2020

You might feel like there’s been a lot of debate about whether Vitamin C works or not. It’s true, there has been a lot of debate for decades, even amongst scientists and their research. But that debate has to do with the specifics of Vitamin C and the common cold. The science community, however, does not dispute that Vitamin C is important to your health—specifically to your immune function. That’s not up for debate.

 

The role of Vitamin C in your body is tactical—it’s expected (by your body) to help launch an effective immune response while sustaining minimal damage. With the coronavirus, we’ve heard that two things lead to severe outcomes: poor immediate first response by the immune system and a cytokine storm—or hyper immune response—once the virus has spread. Your body relies on Vitamin C to keep your immune function optimally operational, ready to strike with precision and strength.

 

The Immune System—A Quick Definition

So we can wrap our heads around how Vitamin C actually works with your immunity, let’s orient ourselves with a working definition of the immune system. This one is from the National Institute of Health glossary:

 

The immune system is a group of organs and cells that defends the body against infection, disease, and altered (mutated) cells. It includes the thymus, spleen, lymphatic system (lymph nodes and lymph vessels), bone marrow, tonsils, and white blood cells.

 

How Vitamin C Works with Your Immune System

According to this 2017 scientific review in Nutrients journal, Vitamin C supports various cellular functions of both your innate and adaptive immune system. Your innate immunity is that first rapid nonspecific response to a pathogen, and your adaptive immunity is an antigen-specific immune response—it processes and recognizes the antigen, then it “remembers” it.

 

The various ways Vitamin C supports your immune system are:

 

  • It strengthens your outer barrier (skin)
  • It helps deploy scavenger cells (phagocytes)
  • It cleans up the battlegrounds
  • It enhances the reproduction and specialization of lymphocytes

 

Now we’ll dive a little deeper into the world of your immune system to see just how Vitamin C helps these vital defenses of your immune function and why they’re so important.

 

Vitamin C Is There for Your Skin

Your skin protects you from pathogens.  It is a closed surface and a working barrier that is a part of your innate immune system. Vitamin C supports that barrier by helping your body make collagen, which is vital to healing wounds and thickening the skin. Vitamin C also promotes the oxidant scavenging activity of the skin, potentially protecting against environmental oxidative stress.

 

Vitamin C Accumulates in Scavenger Cells

Defense cells, or phagocytes, are the next level of protection offered by your innate immune system when a pathogen makes it past your skin and mucous membranes. These scavenger cells are deployed to eliminate pathogens on the spot. There are two very effective kinds: macrophages (in tissue) and neutrophil granulocytes (in blood and tissue). These cells enclose the pathogens and digest them. Scavenger cells that have a lot of Vitamin C in them have enhanced stimulation, prompting them to react—this is called chemotaxis. This leads to phagocytosis—the digestion of the pathogen, and ultimately microbial killing.

 

Helps with Programmed Cell Death, Clearing the Debris

When their work is done, all these defense cells and their spent components have to be cleared out. Your body relies on Vitamin C to help with apoptosis (programmed cell death) and clearing away the spent neutrophils from infection sites where scavenger cells fought the good fight. This decreases damage to tissue, which could otherwise cause necrosis or death of the tissue.

 

Vitamin C Has Been Shown to Enhance the Production of Lymphocytes

T lymphocytes and B lymphocytes are the major players in your adaptive immune system. T lymphocytes are produced in the bone marrow and mature in the thymus where they learn to recognize “self” and “not-self”. T lymphocytes, or T cells, need Vitamin C to perform their tasks, which is to multiple and specialize once they have come into contact with the pathogen. T cells specialize into the following:

 

  • T helper cells
  • T killer cells or cytotoxic T cells
  • memory T cells
  • regulatory T cells

 

B cells are important to your adaptive immune system because they produce antibodies in the blood for specific pathogens. It’s believed that Vitamin C helps these cells perform their task because of its gene-regulating effects.

 

Best Way to Get Vitamin C

It’s ironic … the body needs Vitamin C to live, but cannot make it or store it efficiently. You have to ingest it. Furthermore, in keeping with that ironic twist, Vitamin C has poor bioavailability. To add further insult to injury … if you take large amounts of Vitamin C the traditional way to try to offset that poor absorption, it can cause nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain. And all that extra Vitamin C you paid for will be ushered out in your urine.

 

According to the previously mentioned research article in the journal Nutrients:

 

“Prophylactic prevention of infection requires dietary vitamin C intakes that provide at least adequate, if not saturating plasma levels (i.e., 100–200 mg/day), which optimize cell and tissue levels. In contrast, treatment of established infections requires significantly higher (gram) doses of the vitamin to compensate for the increased inflammatory response and metabolic demand.”

 

If our bodies don’t make it and our digestive system is not so hot at getting Vitamin C into our bloodstream, how are we supposed to get those levels of it to the components of our immune system?

 

The way is with Puffin Health Liposomal Vitamin C. Our CELLg8 liposomal formula encapsulates your Vitamin C in all-natural lipids, which protect it in the digestive environment and deliver it at a dramatically increased rate into your bloodstream. You’ve just learned how your body and immune function rely on Vitamin C. But it needs protection on the way to the bloodstream. Puffin Health Liposomes can do just that.

 

To learn more, check out this article on what liposomes are and why traditional vitamin supplements don’t work.  Another great article on understanding how liposomes are the ultimate uber for delivery your supplements can be found. 




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