Ask Gerda: Should I Take Vitamin C for Immunity?
Ask Gerda: Should I
Gerda Endemann, our senior director of science and research, has a BS in nutrition from UC Berkeley, a PhD in nutritional biochemistry from MIT, and a passion for cherry-picking from our wellness shop. She spends a lot of her time interpreting research—established and emerging. And our wellness routines thank her for this. (Yours will, too. Send us your own questions for Gerda: [email protected].)
Dear goop, I want to do everything I can to support my immune system. I don’t hear much about vitamin C and immunity these days except that some people swear by it and others think it doesn’t help. Is the evidence connecting vitamin C and immune health out of date? —Alexis P.
Hi Alexis, Thanks for asking, because in rereviewing the research, I found that vitamin C’s role in immunity looks even more extensive and interesting than ever. In the early days, all we really knew was that white blood cells go to a lot of trouble to hoard vitamin C. We didn’t know why. But we thought there had to be a reason that these cells take vitamin C from the blood and concentrate it up to a hundredfold. Since then, we’ve learned of multiple ways vitamin C helps keep white blood cells healthy so that they can kill viruses, bacteria, and infected cells.
You’ve probably heard that vitamin C is an antioxidant and a free radical scavenger. In order to destroy bacteria and viruses, white blood cells sequester them into compartments into which they pump high levels of toxic reactive oxygen species (ROS). One crucial role of vitamin C is thought to be deactivating the ROS that leak out of these compartments. In this way, vitamin C protects the white blood cells and keeps them from being damaged in the process of fighting pathogens. Meaning: They’ll be able to keep fighting. Vitamin C is also needed for the production of T cells and NK cells and for numerous other aspects of immune function. Finally, we are starting to understand why a deficiency of vitamin C impairs immunity.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 percent of Americans are deficient in vitamin C. Those of us who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables aren’t likely to fall within that group. A poor diet with little fresh produce is the major cause of deficiency, but other factors can also contribute, including weight loss surgery, smoking, and alcohol abuse. And with lung cancer, sepsis, and infections, as well as after surgery, vitamin C levels in the body can fall drastically.
What you probably want to know is whether extra vitamin C, beyond what you get from a typical diet, is helpful in supporting a healthy immune response. It looks like there are situations where extra vitamin C may be beneficial, such as for people who do intense physical exercise, like running marathons or alpine climbing. And a meta-analysis concluded that regularly consuming at least 200 milligrams of vitamin C could help support a healthy immune response in both adults and children.
If you want to add a regular source of vitamin C to your diet, one high-potency solution is LivOn Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C. One serving contains a generous 1,000 milligrams, which is over 1,000 percent of the Daily Value. This is not a tablet or a powder—it’s a little packet of gel that you add to around three ounces of any cool beverage and swallow in one gulp. (Or you can throw it back without water.) Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C is formulated with LivOn’s liposomal technology, so you also get 500 milligrams of phosphatidylcholine (which contains the nutrient choline) in each serving.
Along with the 500 milligrams of vitamin C in GOOPGLOW Morning Skin Superpowder, you get generous amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are super valuable not just for skin but for anyone wanting to promote healthy eyes in the long term. (Tell your mother.) Mix this powder with water for an orangey drink—I love the taste.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of goop.