Your immune system does a remarkable job of defending you against germs and viruses from the environment. The immune system protects the body from possibly harmful substances by recognizing and responding to antigens. When the body senses foreign substances (antigen on the surface of cells, virus, bacteria), the immune system works to recognize the antigens and destroys them. But sometimes it fails, where a germ invades successfully and makes you sick. How can you improve your immune system? Is it possible to intervene in this process and boost your immune system? Feeding your body nutrients foods such as Vitamin C, Cordyceps Sinensis and Zinc may help keep your immune system stronger.
Why do we need Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is well known for its role in supporting a healthy immune system. It is a water-soluble vitamin. This means that it dissolves in water and is delivered to the body’s tissues but is not well stored, so it must be taken daily through food or supplements. Vitamin C is crucial during the Covid-19 pandemic. People with adequate levels of vitamin C are thought to be better able to fight off infections compared to people with vitamin C deficiency. During this critical time, it is important to note that vitamin C helps prevent acute respiratory infections, especially in people with poor diet and those who are physically stressed.
Are you getting enough Vitamin C?
A healthy male and female adult require 90mg and 75mg of Vitamin C daily. However, most vitamin C supplements range from 500-1000mg to help prevent cold and other diseases. Loading up on this vitamin was a practice spurred by Linus Pauling in the 1970s, a double Nobel laureate and well-known for his knowledge in vitamin C, who promoted daily megadoses as a way to prevent colds and some chronic diseases.
Although Malaysians are aware of the need for Vitamin C, most of them lack fruits and vegetables in their diet to receive sufficient important nutrients such as vitamin C. If you fall into one of the categories below, you are more likely to lack this nutrient due to diet, lifestyle or physiological factors.
Studies consistently show that smokers have lower plasma and leukocyte vitamin C levels than nonsmokers, due in part to increased oxidative stress. For this reason, the Institute of Medicine concluded that smokers need 35 mg more vitamin C per day than nonsmokers. Exposure to secondhand smoke also decreases vitamin C levels. Although the Institute of Medicine was unable to establish a specific vitamin C requirement for nonsmokers who are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke, these individuals should ensure that they meet the recommended nutrient intake for vitamin C.
Chronic exposure to alcohol interferes with the pancreas’ ability to absorb vitamin C. Reducing the levels of vitamin C and other essential micronutrients will interfere with normal cellular activities in the pancreas. This may sensitize the pancreas to a secondary insult, predisposing it to the development of pancreatitis and other pancreatic diseases.
Vegetarians may have higher iron requirements than people who eat meat. Vegetarians may be especially interested to know that vitamin C helps the body to better absorb non-heme iron — the kind from plant foods such as beans, spinach and quinoa. To get this benefit, combine vitamin C-rich foods with iron-rich plant foods in the same meal. Vitamin C needs to be consumed at the same time as iron-rich foods in order to maximize absorption.
Vitamin C is needed to make collagen, one of the fibres that builds your baby’s body. During pregnancy, it is common for mothers to experience mild iron-deficiency due to increased blood volume. If anemia is severe, it may put you and your baby at risk of premature delivery and low birth weight. Since vitamin C helps to facilitate the absorption of iron, it is no surprise that your need increases during pregnancy.
Immune cells decrease with age, putting seniors at an increased risk of contracting the cold or flu. Vitamin C can maintain the function of immune cells and increase collagen production. Elasticity in the skin naturally decreases with age, causing wrinkles, drooping, and sagging. Vitamin C aids in the production of collagen, which helps the skin retain its elasticity. In addition, there is a large body of evidence that maintaining healthy vitamin C levels can have a protective function against age-related cognitive decline and protect from eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration.
People with allergies
As vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, it may act as a treatment for allergies. Research has found that vitamin C reduces histamine levels within the blood. When vitamin C is taken during allergy season, it can help to slow down the overreaction of your body to environmental triggers by decreasing your body’s histamine production.
Is vitamin C alone enough to protect you from viruses and infections?
As new viruses are surfacing (both currently and possibly in the future), will vitamin C be sufficient to build our defense system? One way to ensure that our body is strong and healthy is through proper diet and supplementation of Vitamin C, Cordyceps Sinensis, and Zinc.
While you may already know the benefits of vitamin C, zinc and cordyceps sinensis also play a crucial role in protecting your body from viruses too. Zinc is needed for the body’s immune system to properly work. Zinc may relieve oxidative stress and improve immune response by boosting the activity of T-cells and natural killer cells, which help protect your body from infection. Zinc is required for numerous processes in your body, including enhancing immune functions, treating the common cold and infections, decreased risk of age-related chronic disease and improving skin health and wound healing.
In addition, Cordyceps Sinensis, a caterpillar fungus, is long used in traditional chinese medicine to treat cough, respiratory diseases and many other diseases. Interestingly, according to researchers at Chonbuk National University, Cordyceps extracts have a remarkable protective effect on the human immune system. It was shown that after eight weeks of cordyceps administration, the natural killer cells’ cytotoxic activity and phagocytes reaction via the activation of macrophages were enhanced significantly, thereby inducing immunomodulatory effects.
At SOLLIFE, we have developed ActivDefense, a combination of acerola cherry (a natural source of vitamin C), cordyceps sinensis, and zinc.We understand that it can be a hassle and it is definitely costly to consume various kinds of immune booster in a day, therefore, we have developed all these effective ingredientsin a single sachet. It comes in a tasty passion fruit flavor. All candidates who tried ActivDefense agrees that the taste of the product is excellent. Beside, ActivDefense also comes in powdered sachet packaging, making it easy and convenient to be kept in bags and pockets to be consumed anytime, anywhere.
Boost immune system
Acerola cherry is most well-known for being extremely rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is important to keep the immune system functioning and help the body fight infections, viruses, and even reduce risk of cancer. Because of this, it’s often used to help with or prevent colds or flu. Research showed that vitamin C was beneficial to individuals whose immune system was weakened due to stress, a condition which is very common in our society. Acerola cherry is used as a powerful antioxidant to reduce inﬂammation, protect cells from cancer causing damage, and defend against cardiovascular disease.
Improve respiratory functions
During this time, it is also very important to keep your respiratory system healthy. However, it can be difficult due to environmental factors such as secondhand smoke, dust and air pollutants. Cordyceps Sinensis is a powerful immune booster. It stimulates the immune system by increasing the number and boosting the activity of natural killer cells (a type of white blood cell), which protect the body from viruses and bacteria.In addition, Cordyceps sinensis is used to treat coughs, chronic bronchitis and respiratory disorders. Cordyceps sinensis is a fungus long used in traditional Chinese medicine as a tonic to soothe the lung for the treatment of respiratory diseases.
Boost collagen synthesis
Vitamin C and Zinc are responsible for holding cells together during the creation of collagen. This is one of the reasons why vitamin C is considered to be a vanity vitamin. It can help your body synthesize collagen which leads to healthy nails, hair, skin and other benefits. In addition, acerola cherry is an astringent. This could make it helpful for treating skin blemishes and promoting skin elasticity.
- Sorice, A., et al. (2014). Ascorbic acid: Its role in immune system and chronic inflammation diseases. http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/ben/mrmc/2014/00000014/00000005/art00005
- Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2000.
- Harrison F. E. (2012). A critical review of vitamin C for the prevention of age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Alzheimer’s disease : JAD, 29(4), 711–726. https://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-2012-111853
- Johnston, C. S., et al. (1992). Antihistamine effect of supplemental ascorbic acid and neutrophil chemotaxis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1578094
- Huang G, Wu L, Qiu L, Lai J, Huang Z, Liao L. Association between vegetables consumption and the risk of age-related cataract: a meta-analysis. Int J Clin Exp Med. 2015 Oct 15;8(10):18455-61.
- Shashidhar, M. G., Giridhar, P., Sankar, K. U., & Manohar, B. (2013). Bioactive principles from Cordyceps sinensis: A potent food supplement–A review. Journal of Functional Foods, 5(3), 1013-1030.
- Jung, S.J., Jung, E.S., Choi, E.K., Sin, H.S., Ha, K.C. and Chae, S.W., 2019. Immunomodulatory effects of a mycelium extract of Cordyceps (Paecilomyces hepiali; CBG-CS-2): a randomized and double-blind clinical trial. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 19(1), p.77.
|Brenda Yeong Huai En|
|BSc (Hons) Nutrition|
|Product Development Specialist|
|One Green Solution Sdn Bhd|
|Dato Nazlee Mohd Kamal, PhD.|
|One Green Solution Sdn Bhd|