Supplements in the Spotlight: Immunity Shield
Constant coughs and an endlessly streaming nose slowing you down? Our wellness is something we often don’t appreciate until it takes a dive. This is one of the reasons we seek out supplements – in addition to taking preventative measures, supporting our bodies, and promoting longevity.
Today, we’re taking the opportunity to spotlight vitamin C, zinc, and vitamin D, as well as their roles in supporting overall health and wellness.
Probably due in part to remarkably effective orange juice commercials, a majority of Americans are aware of the need for vitamin C (usually listed as ascorbate or ascorbic acid) in a healthy diet. Yet, according to data from 2020 Dietary Guidelines, most adults aren’t meeting the daily recommended vitamin C intake, with only 10-20% of Americans consuming 9 servings of fruits and vegetables .
But why is vitamin C so important anyway? It plays a role in several metabolic reactions and is tied to countless health benefits. Vitamin C is good for:
- Protection Against Free Radicals: As a powerful antioxidant, it can neutralize the harmful effects of oxidative stress, which has been linked to several chronic diseases .
- Boosting Immunity: Vitamin C promotes the production of lymphocytes and phagocytes, which aid in defending the body from infection .
- Encouraging Skin Health: As a component needed to produce collagen, it can help strengthen skin barriers, in addition to assisting in wound recovery [4, 5, 6].
- Preventing Iron Deficiency: The vitamin helps to facilitate the body’s absorption and storage of iron from plants .
- Promoting Brain Health: Low levels of vitamin C have been linked to poor memory and thinking capacity, so high intake is encouraged to support nervous system health as you age [8, 9, 10].
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin, which means our bodies are not capable of producing it. And as a water-soluble vitamin, it isn’t stored well, requiring daily replenishment. While the antioxidant nutrient can be found in various fruits and vegetables, it can be difficult and impractical to consistently consume the recommended servings of foods high in vitamin C.
So, we turn to supplements for a one-step solution!
From gene expression to growth and development, zinc is involved in the processes of over 300 enzymes. This powerhouse mineral is also a critical component in several immune responses and functions, including:
- Supporting the development and normal function of immune cells
- Promoting the healing of damaged tissue and blood clotting
- Reducing oxidative stress
Zinc is good for promoting good digestion, fighting free radicals that speed up the aging process, and boosting cognitive function by facilitating communication between neurons and supporting healthy hormone levels.
Like vitamin C, zinc isn’t naturally produced by the body [11, 12]. Zinc is also similar to vitamin C in that both are crucial for immune function, resistance to infection, decreasing the risk, severity, and duration of infectious illness; and maintaining overall health [13, 14]. Ultimately, vitamin C and zinc make the ultimate tag team, both working together to support immunity. Deficiencies in diet decrease their effectiveness, however. With many adults not meeting their recommended daily intake through diet alone, a supplement can easily help meet that dietary need !
Vitamin D (calciferol) is commonly known as the “sunshine vitamin,” because your skin produces it in response to direct exposure to sunlight. It can also be obtained through the consumption of select foods.
Vitamin D’s primary function is supporting bone health, enabling the proper absorption of phosphorus and calcium. With low vitamin D levels, the risk of developing abnormalities (like fragile or soft bones) increases. This nutrient may also promote healthy immune system function and encourage a positive mood.
Who could be at risk for vitamin D deficiencies? Those who:
- Spend most of their time indoors
- Use sunscreen regularly
- Have darker skin (higher melanin levels = lower ability to absorb vitamin D through skin)
- Reside in a highly-polluted environment/city where buildings block sunlight
As easy it may seem, getting vitamin D can be a difficult task when you’re limited by diet or by solely relying on opportunities for sunlight exposure on a daily basis. This is where supplements can come in handy!
Prioritize Your Health
Health truly is wealth. We at Vitamins of America understand that on a fundamental level, which is exactly why we do what we do. It’s important to give your body what it needs – and we want to give you the knowledge required to be an informed consumer, and choose the supplements that fit your lifestyle and help you meet your health goals!