Vitamin C for Immunity

  • Severe vitamin C deficiency has been associated with impairments in immunity and increased susceptibility to more infections, while vitamin C supplementation seems helpful to prevent and treat infections.
  • Vitamin C orchestrates the function of the human immune system by supporting various aspects of both the innate and adaptive immune system including epithelial barrier function, chemotaxis, and antimicrobial activities of phagocyte cells, natural killer (NK) cell functions, and lymphocyte proliferation and differentiation.
  • Supplementation with vitamin C, especially in groups such as the elderly, has been shown to reduce the duration and severity of cold symptoms by enhancing various immune cell functions.
  • Ensuring sufficient vitamin C levels may be particularly an essential factor in conditions involving an additional challenge in the immune system such as inflammation, autoimmunity, and cancer.

Vitamin C and the Immune System

Vitamin C helps the Immune System in Three Ways:

Vitamin D for Immunity

  • Vitamin D can boost the first line of defense against invading pathogens. 1,25(OH)2D3, an active metabolite of vitamin D, exerts a multidirectional effect on both innate and adaptive arms of the immune system.
  • This active metabolite is responsible for:
    • Increasing the phagocytic and microbicidal activity of macrophages
    • For inhibiting the differentiation and maturation of dendritic cells and B lymphocytes
    • For suppressing Th1 and Th17 proliferation and their cytokine production
  • As Vitamin D receptor (VDR) and the enzyme 1-a-hydroxylase are expressed in most immune cells, vitamin D modulates the phagocytic activity of macrophages and NK cells.
  • Additionally, vitamin D induces the microbicidal activity of phagocytes.

Effects of 1,25(OH)2D2 on Immune Cells

Zinc for Immunity

Zinc deficiency is causally associated with multiple immunological dysfunctions that lead to the manifestation of various diseases.

Zinc flux, zinc wave, and homeostatic zinc signals control the adequate function of innate as well as adaptive immunity.

Zinc deficiency, as well as zinc excess, leads to malfunction of the adaptive and innate immune system, eventually resulting in the development of numerous immune diseases.

Balanced zinc homeostasis is crucial for either defending against invading pathogens or protecting the human body against an overreactive immune system causing autoimmune diseases, chronic inflammation, or allergies.

Overall Distributed Immune Function

Influence of zinc and zinc deficiency on various organ systems and the immune system

  • Zinc homeostasis is essential for multiple aspects of the immune system including hematopoiesis, cell maturation, cell differentiation, cell cycle progression, and the proper function of immune cells.
  • Zinc homeostasis and zinc signals are crucial to counteract inflammatory diseases, and the correlation of undernourishment with severe inflammatory diseases is accompanied by prolonged and severe forms of serum hypozincemia.
  • Thus, zinc can be seen as a potential therapeutic for clinical use to influence beneficially the well-being of patients suffering from immune diseases.

Influence of Zinc Status on the Overall Immune Functions

Zinc as a Gatekeeper of Immune Function

Zinc Deficiency

  • Overproduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines & reactive mediators
  • Thymus atrophy
  • TH1/TH2 imbalance
  • Less naive B cells
  • Less Treg
  • More TH17

Zinc Deficiency

  • Balanced immune cell numbers & functions
  • The balance between tolerance and defense mechanisms

Zinc Deficiency

  • Suppression of T & B cell function
  • Overload of Treg direct activation of macrophages

Astaxanthin for Immunity

Dietary Astaxanthin enhanced both cell-mediated and humoral immune response.

The immune markers significantly enhanced by taking Astaxanthin included T-cell and B-cell mitogen-induced lymphocyte proliferation, NK cell cytotoxic activity,IFN- Ý and IL-6 production, and LFA-1 expression.

Astaxanthin has been shown to be one of the most effective antioxidants against lipid peroxidation and oxidative stress inin vitroandin vivosystems.

  • Lung infected by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) elevated oxidation stress, elevated reactive oxygen species (ROS) mediated inflammation and a dysregulated immune response proceeds unabated resulting in violent cytokine storm syndrome.
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) may ensue, accompanied by series of complications varying according to disease severity. Astaxanthin may play a vital role in the regulation of the oxidative stress induced by ROS at the early stage of the infection, regulation of the immune response, and downregulation of pro-inflammatory components, resulting in possible alleviation of the cytokine storm.
  • Astaxanthin may also provide supports for patients with ARDS and related complications with its anti-inflammatory properties.

Schematic Representation of the Putative Pathogenesis of COVID-19 and Hypothetical Action of Natural Astaxanthin

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  2. Immunity focus: Vitamin C. Adapted from:
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  5. Park JS, Chyun JH, Kim YK, et al. Astaxanthin decreased oxidative stress and inflammation and enhanced immune response in humans. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2010 Mar 5;7:18
  6. Talukdar J, Bhadra B, Dattaroy T, et al. Potential of natural astaxanthin in alleviating the risk of cytokine storm in COVID-19. Biomed Pharmacother. 2020 Dec;132:110886.
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