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The body’s first line of defense, the physical barrier created by the skin, relies on vitamin C. Vitamin C is necessary for the production of collagen, an important type of connective tissue.** Collagen creates the structural framework of the skin to promote skin integrity, helping to effectively keep unwanted substances from entering the body.
Vitamin C’s important role in immune health does not stop at the surface.** During the initial stages of the immune response, white blood cells of the innate immune system start the inflammatory response as one means of dealing with unwelcomed visitors. In a state of inflammation, an abundance of free radicals can be produced.
Free radicals are unstable compounds that can interfere with a normal cell’s ability to function optimally. Free radicals cannot differentiate between your own healthy cells and the target of your immune system so they can end up damaging your own cells. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps to fight free radicals.** It also helps to regenerate other antioxidants like vitamin E to their active state to maintain antioxidant support.**
In addition to supporting skin integrity and antioxidant health, vitamin C is essential for the optimal functioning of white blood cells.** During an immune response, white blood cells go through a process of rapid division and multiplication. Vitamin C supports the production of the important B and T cells of the adaptive immune response.** It also helps special types of cells of the innate immune system called phagocytes do their job, engulfing unwanted compounds.**
Unlike most other animals, humans cannot synthesize their own vitamin C so it must be obtained from dietary sources. As a water soluble vitamin, vitamin C dissolves easily in water but cannot be readily store in the body. This means adequate amounts of vitamin C should be consumed every day.
Vitamin C is found in foods such as citrus fruits, strawberries, cantaloupes, raw vegetables and potatoes. Unfortunately, in today’s busy world, many of us do not consume as many fruits and vegetables as we should. National survey data indicates Americans are not meeting the recommendations for daily fruit and vegetable intake, resulting in a significant prevalence of about 40% of Americans with inadequate dietary intake of vitamin C.8 Furthermore, vitamin C is sensitive to heat so boiling and other cooking methods can deplete the natural vitamin C content of foods.
Daily intake of 200 mg supports respiratory health.** Note that while this amount provides adequate support for most healthy individuals, actively multiplying and dividing white blood cells may have even higher requirements of vitamin C.**
Every day, your body is bombarded by foreign substances from the outside world. Credit card pin pads, bathroom faucets, cell phones, literally everything you touch is covered in tiny microorganisms. Not all microorganisms are bad, in fact there are trillions of bacteria found in and on the human body which cause no harm, or in some cases are even beneficial to human health.
However, there are also less favorable microorganisms found in the environment. The main function of your immune system is to protect you from external threats and keep you healthy.
Think of your immune system as your body’s security team, trained to recognize and remove any threats while protecting your body’s peaceful residents.
The first line of defense is to restrict the entry of unwanted foreign materials. The skin creates an excellent physical barrier but unwanted guests may still be inhaled or ingested. The acidity of stomach acid, mucosal membranes, and the presence of antibodies in saliva and tears all further help to prevent the entry of these substances into the body.
Physical barriers keep pathogens from entering the body – e.g. skin, mucosa layer of GI tract, antibodies in saliva, pH of stomach
If substances get through the exclusion barrier, they need to be recognized as non-self
Elimination only of unwanted threats, not self or friendly bacteria
Immune memories allow for fast recognition and elimination of repeat offenders
If a non-beneficial microorganism is able to pass through your body’s first line of defense, it must be recognized by your immune system. Recognition is an important feature of your patrolling security team. Without it, your immune system would attack non-threatening foreign substances and even your own cells. Undesirable substances are recognized by white blood cells that send messages akin to sounding an alarm, drawing more white blood cells to the area. There are many different types of white blood cells, also called leukocytes, that all work together to orchestrate the appropriate immune response. The elements of the immune system discussed thus far are all considered part of the innate response.
Characterized as being fast and non-specific, the innate immune system responds within minutes or hours.1 Once the innate immune system has identified a threat, it seeks to eliminate it. The various white blood cells of the innate immune system each fight these threats in their own unique ways. Some will trigger an inflammatory response while others will deal with it directly by engulfing it or releasing toxic chemicals. Since the innate immune response is non-specific, the response is generally the same regardless of whether the same pathogen is encountered numerous times.
The body’s second line of defense is the adaptive immune response. This response takes days or even weeks to develop, but it is highly specific. Unlike the innate immune system which simply recognizes objects as good or bad, the adaptive immune system precisely identifies each foreign substance and develops a customized response. These unwanted guests are identified by the presence of antigens – which are like name tags calling out what kind of substance it is. Highly specialized white blood cells called B cells produce antibodies that fit together with the foreign substances antigens like puzzle pieces. The antibody-antigen complex signals to other immune cells that this complex needs to be destroyed.
Another type of cell of the adaptive immune system is T cells. T cells do not produce antibodies but when they recognize an antigen, some types of T cells will directly attack the foreign invader. Other types of T cells will regulate the responses of other types of immune cells. The most amazing part about the adaptive immune system is its capacity to remember the appropriate response for foreign substance through memory cells. These immune memories develop throughout your life and are readily activated when they are needed again.
Your immune system is always patrolling your body to keep you at your best, but you need to keep your immune system healthy too. Every day you need to provide your immune system with the energy and nutrients it needs to function optimally.
AGE: The immune response starts to weaken around age 60 and continues to weaken with age.2
SLEEP: Important immune proteins called cytokines are released while we sleep. Sleep deprivation leads to decreased immune function as well as increased recovery times.3
STRESS: Both physical and emotional stress can negatively impact the immune system. The stress hormone cortisol has been shown to decrease white blood cell numbers.7
SMOKING: Smoking causes dysfunction of white blood cells involved in both innate and adaptive immunity.5 It is estimated that 1.1 billion people in the world are smokers.6
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: Regular moderate-intensity exercise achieved on a near-daily basis is associated with better immune health with age. More than 80% of U.S. adults are not meeting guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.4
NUTRITION: The immune system needs proper nutrients to function optimally. There are a number of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are widely recognized for their role in supporting immune health.**
Because the immune system is such a complex system, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to supporting immune health. The various different types of white blood cells, immune proteins, and tissues and organs all have different nutrient requirements. Taking a single nutrient for immune health may assist in supporting one of these aspects of immune health, but if you are lacking other nutrients in your diet, then you may be falling short in getting total immune support.**
The immune system works year-round to keep you healthy no matter what the season. Depending on location and lifestyle factors, vitamin D status may be higher in the summer to better support certain aspects of immune health.** Winter weather conditions such as dry air may also affect immune health. It is still important to support your immune health every day throughout the year for optimal functioning.
The immune system should not be “boosted” beyond normal, optimal functioning. In fact, many autoimmune diseases are characterized by an overactive immune system that starts attacking its own cells. There are however lifestyle changes that you can make to help support normal functioning of the immune system. These include getting adequate sleep, engaging in regular physical activity, managing stress, eating a balanced diet and getting adequate amounts of immune supporting nutrients.
The immune system is a complex network of organs, cells, tissues and proteins found throughout the body. It includes the thymus, spleen, bone marrow, skin, tonsils and Peyer’s patches in the intestines. The lymph system allows white blood cells of the immune system to patrol the entire body looking for foreign invaders.
|Serving Size 1 Caplet|
|Amount Per Serving||% Daily Value|
|Vitamin C (as Ascorbic Acid) 500 mg 556%|
|Citrus Bioflavonoid Complex||25 mg *|
|(Citrus spp.) (fruit)|
|Rose Hips (Rosa canina)(fruit) 14 mg *|
|*Daily Value not established.|
No Artificial Color, Flavor or Sweetener, No Preservatives, No Sugar, No Starch, No Milk, No Lactose, No Soy, No Gluten, No Wheat, No Yeast, No Fish. Sodium Free.
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