First, we have to understand how vitamin C works in and with our immune system. It works by neutralizing free radicals in our body- that are responsible for causing cellular damage- and the stabilization of free radicals are key to decreasing inflammation. This is how immune function improves through vitamin C intake. This is not the only role of vitamin C, but it is among the most crucial, and as the powerful antioxidant that it is, there is no denying its essential role in our body.
It's not difficult to get the daily recommended intake of 90 mg per day, assuming you're eating a good balance of fruits and veggies daily. If you are breastfeeding, you need and extra 30 mg per day and if you smoke, you need an extra 35 mg.
The answer reflects the amazing and harmonious inner workings of our bodies. Have you heard of phagocytes? These are the key players in this wondrous defense mechanism against harmful invaders of our cells. Phagocyteseat up harmful bacteria, so the more we meet our vitamin c recommendations the more well equipped our immune system will be in the midst of the countless pollutants, chemicals, and bacteria that invade our bodies every day. Lymphocyteproduction also increases and filters our blood from foreign substances and collagen production increases to help our skin serve as a barrier from harmful compounds permeating through our skin.
It's important to understand the role of vitamin C in order to not take it unnecessarily. The truth is, vitamin C has the ability to strengthen the immune system in order to fight off viruses and bacteria more efficiently and possibly shorten the length and intensity of the virus/symptoms, however, it won't prevent you from contracting any particular virus/disease. As long as you consume the recommended amounts you are in the clear and are doing exactly what you need to be doing to protect yourself.
Note that there is currently no adequate evidence to support that oral supplementation of vitamin C PREVENTS any virus or disease and it is also not clear that its consumption will reduce the severity of COVID-19, as it can for other viruses. Excessive consumption of vitamin C- higher than 2,000 mg per day- will only cause side effects and a waste of your money.
Although there are currently undergoing clinical trials for the effectiveness of IV vitamin C in hospitalized people with COVID-19, the findings are not yet clear and/or sufficient to make it a standardized plan of treatment for patients. The use of high intravenous doses of vitamin C in hospitalized patients is different than the oral intake of non-hospitalized individuals with the disease.
Joanna Gil, B.S. Nutrition