When you think about supporting your immune system, you probably think about vitamin C. But how are they actually connected? As the seasons change, many people may begin stocking up on orange juice or vitamin C supplements. In fact, vitamin C is one of the most commonly taken supplements in the world – but what does it really do for the immune system? And is it possible to take too much vitamin C?
What does vitamin C do for the immune system?
Vitamin C is an essential micronutrient for humans, but the body cannot make vitamin C on its own. You need to consume vitamin C through external sources, such as through your diet or supplements. Like the B-complex vitamins, vitamin C is water-soluble. Because our bodies do not store water-solubles well, vitamin C needs to be replenished every day.
Vitamin C helps support the immune system by supporting various functions. It is a potent antioxidant and helps fight oxidative stress which is important for a healthy immune response. It also supports the functioning of white blood cells, which are major components of the immune system.
Which foods are high in vitamin C?
Ensuring your diet has an adequate amount of vitamin C is the first way you can help support your immune system. Some fruits that are high in vitamin C are citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes, as well as less common fruits like pineapple, kiwi, and watermelon. Many vegetables are also rich sources of vitamin C, including broccoli, spinach, green and red bell peppers, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.
What is the difference between Ester-C® and vitamin C?
If you’ve ever stood in front of a vitamin C display at the pharmacy, you may be overwhelmed by the seemingly endless array of options. What is actually the difference between Ester-C® and regular vitamin C? In short, vitamin C is acidic and may cause stomach irritation for some people. Ester-C® was created as a response to this problem; it is a non-acidic, well-absorbed version of vitamin C that is gentler on the stomach. During the production of Ester-C®, vitamin C metabolites are also created that help to enhance the retention of vitamin C in your body.* Studies show that Ester-C® increases vitamin C levels in white blood cells for up to 24 hours or up to two times longer than regular vitamin C.
What happens when you have too much vitamin C?
According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition, vitamin C has very low toxicity and is not believed to cause serious adverse effects if you have taken too much. The most common complaints after high intakes of vitamin C are diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramps, and other gastrointestinal effects related to the unabsorbed vitamin C in the intestine.