Vitamin C and Zinc for immune health

It is important to have a reliable immune system. Vitamin C and zinc are the most important nutrients for proper immune function. Both nutrients support innate and adaptive immunity, such as epithelial barriers, cellular proliferation and antibody production.

Vitamin C is required for collagen synthesis and wound healing. The skin needs collagen to provide our body with a physical barrier to prevent infection. Vitamin C increases white blood cells and improves the action of macrophages. However, vitamin C has a limited effect on antibody production.

Vitamin C plays an important role in preventing respiratory infections, especially in the elderly and among people who are constantly exposed to continuous oxidative stress (eg, chronic smokers and people who carry out heavy physical exercise). The elderly in particular, are known to have a lowered vitamin C status.

Likewise, a lack of zinc has been shown to impair the immune system and increase the generation of oxidative stress. It also increases susceptibility to infections. Zinc has been studied for its potential therapeutic effects on the common cold due its direct anti-viral activity. Zinc has also been shown to inhibit the replication of the flu virus (rhinovirus).

Zinc is necessary for the optimal functioning of both innate and adaptive immunity; impaired immune function due to inadequate zinc levels may be the most common cause of secondary immunodeficiency in humans. Zinc is important in antibody production and is required for the normal function of T- and B-lymphocytes.

Lastly, both vitamin C and zinc provide complementary antioxidant protection against exogenously derived and endogenously generated free radicals. Immune cells are frequently exposed to free radicals when they remove pathogens from the body. Therefore, immune cells need to protect themselves from reactive oxygen species (free radicals) in order to preserve their structure and function. 

The common cold

Viral respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold and influenza, are among the most common illnesses in humans. The occurrence of the common cold shows clear seasonality. In Malaysia and tropical areas, most colds occur during the rainy season. Adults have around two to four common-cold episodes annually, whereas children may have six to ten colds per year.

Researchers have used the common cold as a model for infectious disease and to investigate if certain nutrients can help to improve our defence system against the infection. One study published online presented the results of two preliminary, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical studies that were conducted in patients with symptoms of the common cold. In both studies, a non-significant reduction of running nose duration in the range of 9% -27% was seen in patients taking 1000mg vitamin C plus 10mg zinc. In a pooled analysis of these two studies, vitamin C plus zinc was significantly more efficient than placebo at reducing running nose during the first 5 days of treatment. Results of the pooled analyses also showed that discomfort due to nasal obstruction, sneezing and eye watering also improved with active treatment. In addition to that, 1000mg vitamin C plus 10mg zinc effervescent tablets were very well tolerated.

Conclusion

Adequate intakes of vitamin C and zinc are essential for health. These nutrients interact with the immune system by supporting human responses and providing antioxidant protection to external and internal free radicals produced during inflammatory responses. Therefore, high levels of vitamin C and zinc must be maintained in the bloodstream to fight these damaging free radicals. Having the right formulation of vitamin C and zinc is essential to ensure the levels of these nutrients stay at high levels. Effervescence has proved its utility as an oral delivery system in the pharmaceutical and dietary industries for decades. It is able to incorporate large doses of vitamin C and zinc in an easy-to-swallow and tasty liquid, while improving absorption of the nutrients. A good and efficient tablet must be able to mask the off-notes of zinc and have a rapid disintegration time.

This information is brought to you by an in-house pharmacist at Cambert (M) Sdn. Bhd. For details, please call the infoline at 1300-88-1712 or email enquiry@cambert.com.my

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