Does Vitamin C “Boost” the Immune System?

The immune system is the key bodily system fighting infection and pathogenic invaders. It goes without saying, therefore, that supporting it however we can is crucial in mitigating our risk of contracting viruses throughout the year, or indeed of contracting novel coronavirus COVID-19.

The wording is crucial here, however. While we can ‘support’ our immune system, we can never ‘boost’ it and so artificially amp up its efficacy in the short or long term. No supplement, no dietary change or any other combination of factors can ‘boost’ the immune system – and any company or person that claims to have found a way to do just that, is pulling the wool over your eyes.

Vitamin C is often pointed to as a reliable crutch for fighting off the common cold, and any number of seasonal ailments. It is continually referred to in such a manner, mainly due to health claims dating back to the 1970s. There is mixed modern evidence to support its use in reducing the symptoms of cold, flu or any other common illnesses, however.

In study populations of older adults, and high performing athletes, researchers were able to show that vitamin C could reduce the duration of a cold by 8-15% when taken as a daily preventative measure, or at the first sign of symptoms. Unfortunately as of writing, there is no evidence to suggest that vitamin C supplements can prevent the onset of COVID-19.

This is not to undermine the vital role that vitamin C plays, however. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient, even outside of immune system support. It plays a vital role in the repair of tissue and enzymatic production of key neurotransmitters. Vitamin C is also capable of being both an antioxidant and a pro-oxidant, depending on what the body needs at any given moment. It can serve a variety of useful functions in the body, all of which feed into and support the wider immune system.

What does vitamin C do?

  • Reduces the duration of some illnesses
  • Makes tissue repair possible
  • Enables the production of key neurotransmitters
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Acts as neurological support
  • Provides naturalised cortisol

Where can I find vitamin C?

  • Yellow peppers – 100g provides 183mg of vitamin C
  • Blackcurrants – 100g provides 181mg of vitamin C
  • Broccoli – 100g provides 89.2mg of vitamin C
  • Brussel sprouts – 100g provides 85mg of vitamin C
  • Potatoes – 100g provides 11.4mg of vitamin C*

Alternatively, you can take supplements such as our very own Vitamin C Extreme – which can provide a more reliable source of vitamin C when your options are limited.

* Although this is a low amount of vitamin C, potatoes keep well and are useful for satiety.

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