We are always told from a young age that Vitamin C helps our immune system but what is the immune system and how does it work ? Is it just Vitamin C that helps support it or are there other vitamins that are just as vital ? In this article we will touch up on all these topics to find out what are the best vitamins for the immune system.
What is the Immune System ?
The immune system is a host defense system comprising many biological structures and processes within an organism that protects against disease. To put it simply, your immune system is your body’s operating system.
Homeostatis is when your immune system is in good shape and when your immune system is in good shape the rest of your body takes care of itself. The immune system is designed to be resilient, which means it is designed to take a hit and come back stronger. Operating in an Optimal way is what your body wants to do in a natural way and thats what you ideally want to get your body to.
In order to get your body into Homeostasis, you need to fuel it with the right ingredients or inputs. This is true for any systems whether it is an engineering system or a bioligical system, all systems desire to operate in an optimal way, or in a state of Homeostasis.
The immune system response can identify a threat, mount an attack, eliminate a pathogen (a bacteria, virus or other micro-organisms that cause diseases) and develop mechanisms to remember the offender in case you encounter it again – all within 10 days.
In some cases, like if the pathogen is particularly stubborn or if the person is immunocompromised (having a weak immune system) the immune system starts attacking something it shouldn’t like your own tissue, which can last much longer, for months to years, and that leads to chronic inflammation. Which is the reason why we should always keep our Immune System healthy by fueling it with the right nutrients or Vitamins it needs.
The Immune System and it’s Sub-Systems
Your immune system is like the military – with two main branches, the innate immune response and the adaptive immune response.
The innate immune response is includes cells that are non-specific, meaning that although they distinguish an invader from a human cell, they don’t distinguish one invader from another invader.
The innate response is an immediate response to an invader – working within minutes to hours and which is responsible for causing a fever in patients to deal with the intruder.
The Adaptive Immune Response meanwhile is the second line of defense and is specific and distinguishes an invader from another invader. While the innate immune response is immediate, the adaptive immune response is not. However, the effect of the adaptive immune response is long-lasting, highly specific, and is sustained long-term by memory T cells which explains the reason why a person is immune from a certain virus after they had already contracted and recovered from it.
What do you fuel it with ?
Vitamin D is particularly important for bone health and immune system function. Our bodies create Vitamin D from direct sun light exposure to our skin. When your body takes in Vitamin D it produces Cathlecidin. If you imagine Vitamin D to be the body’s weapon or gun, Cathelecidins are the bullets that can pierce the walls of Bacteria, Viruses and Fungi (Pathegons).
In spite of that, vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world. Epidemiological studies demonstrate that suboptimal level of Vitamin D is associated with a number of lung disease including viral respiratory infections, chronic rhinitis, rhinosinusitis, COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease  asthma,[7,8] and Tuberculoises. Sufficient vitamin D also prevents prostate cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, depression, colon cancer and schizophrenia.
You can receive high amounts of Vitamin D from the sun and in smaller amounts in foods such as oily fish, fish liver oil and egg yolks. Any excess vitamin D is stored in your body fat for later use. Every cell in your body has a receptor for vitamin D and Vitamin D exerts important regulatory functions on cells from the innate as well as from the adaptive immune response.
When a person is Vitamin D deficient, a Doctor can prescribe a high dosage of Vitamin D over several days or weeks to adjust to normal levels. A maintenance intake of Vitamin D supplements between 1000 IU – 4000 IU per day however is considered safe, although taking higher than this for a long period of time may eventually result in Vitamin D toxicity.
SUMMARY: Vitamin D works as a gun in the anti-microbial system and not only does it help transport calcium to the bones it also helps to heal acute resporatory diseases. Vitamin D works on both the innate and adaptive immune responses. A maintenance dosage of 1000 IU- 4000 IU a day is considered safe unless prescribed a higher dosage by a Doctor. Amazon Best Seller Vitamin D with Coconut Oil for better Absorption.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble nutrient found in some foods. In the body, it acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals. The body also needs vitamin C to make collagen, a protein required to help wounds heal.
Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system.
Vitamin C deficiency results in impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections. In turn, infections significantly impact on vitamin C levels due to enhanced inflammation and metabolic requirements. Furthermore, supplementation with vitamin C appears to be able to both prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections. (Anitra C Carr et al. Nutrients. 2017).
Best food sources of vitamin C are Citrus fruits such as orange, kiwi, lemon, guava, grapefruit, and vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and capsicums are rich, natural sources of vitamin C. Other vitamin C-rich fruits include papaya, cantaloupe and strawberries.
When we’re not taking enough intake of Vitamin C from our food or need to give our body a boost it is fine to take supplements but make sure the Vitamin C supplement is extracted from Whole Food rather than absorbic acid Vitamin C to receive the optimum benefits.
Vitamin C in high dosage is a good way to deal with infections and the best time to deal with infections would be at the start of an infection. Below is a video by Dr. Sarah Myhill, highlighting the power of Vitamin C for treating infections, especially respiratory infections.
SUMMARY: Vitamin C is a potent anti-oxidant protecting the body from damage cause by free radicals, body also needs Vitamin C to make collagen. Studies show that Vitamin C is able to prevent and treat respiratory and systematic infections especially at high dosage. Whole Food Vitamin C (Not Absorbic Acid)
Vitamin A is a micronutrient that is crucial for maintaining vision, promoting growth and development, and protecting epithelium and mucus integrity in the body. Vitamin A is known as an anti-inflammation vitamin because of its critical role in enhancing immune function. There are two forms of Vitamin A preformed vitamin A found in foods such as liver, cod-liver oil, butter, eggs, and dairy products and Pro-vitamin A found in plant based foods such as spinach, carrots, and orange fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin E, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12
Many nutrients can have significant impacts on immunocompetence during periods of deficiency and supplementation. Current evidence indicates a beneficial role of numerous vitamins on immunity, including vitamins E, B6, and B12.
Of these three nutrients, the strongest evidence exists for vitamin E, which has been shown to improve cell-mediated and humoral immunity in both animal and human studies. Vitamin E supplementation was found to reverse the age-associated decline in immune response with levels above the current RDA. This increase in immune response can have benefits in elderly or other immunocompromised patients. Human and animal data indicate that both B6 and B12 play a critical role in nucleotide synthesis and subsequent cell growth.
Therefore, insufficient levels of B6 and B12 would inhibit the immune system’s ability to respond to pathogenic challenge. B6 deficiency impairs both cell-mediated and humoral immunity in animals and humans, which is reversed following B6 supplementation. (JOUR – MS, Raina – Meydani, Simin – 2002/03/01- SP – 188 EP – 198 – The Effects of Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12 on Immune Function – 4 – 10.1046/j.1523-5408.2001.00142.x – Nutrition in Clinical Care).
Vitamins have a role in the immune system, which extends to both innate and adaptive immune responses. Although some vitamins, such as vitamins C and E and members of the B complex, can act in a relatively nonspecific manner in the immune system (for example, as antioxidants) other vitamins, such as vitamins A and D, can influence the immune response in highly specific ways.
Although Vitamins C, E, B6, B12 and A are all essential for normal immune function, recent research suggests vitamin D may be far more superior and important to our body than any other Vitamin. That is not to say you choose between one or the other – all are important. But it has been noted vitamin D is responsible for affecting up to 2,000 different genes (that’s one sixth of the human genome).
A blend of all the above Vitamins you can find in a natural Whole Food Supplement such as Organic Whole-Food Multi Vitamin.