Waiting Until You Feel Off To Take Vitamin C Isn’t Effective — Here’s Why
It’s Friday morning: Co-workers have been calling out left and right, and you wake up feeling subpar. Maybe you should’ve gone to bed earlier last night or at least opted for a bowl of chicken noodle soup to nourish yourself. You head downstairs and reach for your vitamin C, hoping it’ll enhance your well-being—after all, you’re so close to the weekend!
We’ve all been there, reaching for the vitamin C when there’s signs of trouble on the horizon. But waiting until the last minute to up your vitamin C intake may not be the most effective approach to supporting your immunity (because that’s not exactly how nutrients and robust immune systems work).*
Should vitamin C be taken “as needed” or proactively?
When it comes to immunity, vitamin C is a key player.* In fact, vitamin C gets utilized at such a high rate by our immune cells that vitamin C stores need to be replenished in order to keep your immune system healthy and resilient2.*
Vitamin C is the body’s leading water-soluble antioxidant, and its free-radical-scavenging abilities and anti-inflammatory actions are an important part of the body’s immune response across organ systems.*
For starters, the essential vitamin helps protect the body’s first line of defense—the skin.* Vitamin C helps strengthen the epithelial barrier4, aka the skin’s physical barrier that helps protect the body from the outside environment.* As a scavenger of reactive oxidative species (ROS), vitamin C maintains oxidative balance5 in the skin and throughout the rest of the body.*
When it comes to innate immunity (i.e., the natural defense mechanisms you are born with), vitamin C helps regulate several aspects of white blood cell function2.* It is involved in the production, regulation, and function of different types of leukocytes, such as neutrophils—white blood cells that patrol the body to keep it safe; in other words, you can’t even create the immune cells (to fight for you) without vitamin C.*
All in all, vitamin C is an undeniably important micronutrient that directly supports the immune system from multiple angles, helping to bolster the body’s natural defenses and combat oxidative stress.*
Your immune system isn’t going to benefit if you add vitamin C to your routine as a last resort. When it comes to supporting your immune health, think of vitamin C as your starting quarterback—not the Hail Mary pass you make when the clock is running out.*
If you’re struggling to get enough C from your foods alone, consider supplementing with a vitamin C supplement to bridge the nutrient gap and ensure you’re reaching sufficient levels of the essential vitamin.*