Vitamin C is an essential vitamin and your body can’t produce it. It is a water-soluble vitamin well known for its role in supporting a healthy immune system.
Vitamin C helps heal wounds and maintain healthy bones, skin, teeth and cartilage — a type of firm tissue that covers the bones. As an antioxidant, vitamin C fights free radicals in the body which may help prevent certain cancers and heart disease.
One of the main reasons people take vitamin C supplements is to boost their immunity, as vitamin C is involved in many parts of the immune system. Around 1970, Nobel prize winner Linus Pauling popularized the theory that vitamin C helps treat colds. He published a book about cold prevention using huge doses of vitamin C daily. Also, a total of 148 animal studies indicated that vitamin C may prevent infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. Vitamin C helps patients with herpes viruses, as well.
Vitamin C helps encourage the production of white blood cells known as lymphocytes and phagocytes, which help protect the body against infection. It also has beneficial immunomodulating properties in patients with viral infections, predominantly by increasing the production of α/β interferons.
How much Vitamin C do we need?
Taking at least 200 mg of vitamin C per day did appear to reduce the duration of cold symptoms by an average of 8% in adults and 14% in children, which translated to about one less day of illness.
If you want the benefits of vitamin C, you’ll need to consume it every day, and not just at the start of cold symptoms. To prevent infection by viruses and bacteria, people should take high doses of vitamin C (500 mg/d to 4,000 mg/d). Typically, many individuals can tolerate 1000-2000 mg/day in divided oral doses, which can then maintain a relatively constant level of vitamin C in the bloodstream.
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