Vitamin C: how much to strengthen the immune system?

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The phrase “eating an apple a day keeps the doctor away” makes perfect sense. A new study from New Zealand published on March 31 in the journal Nutrients reveals the exact amount of vitamin C you should eat to protect your immune system. “Previous research has already linked being overweight to lower vitamin C levels,” says Professor Anitra Carr, one of the study’s authors. “But this is the first time that we estimate the daily amount of vitamin C people actually need, relative to their weightto help them maximize their health.”

Vitamin C: additional 10 mg per day per 10 kg

To arrive at these results, the researchers combined data from two studies. Knowing that the recommended daily intake of vitamin C is 110 mg for a 60 kg person, scientists suggest “that an additional 10 mg of vitamin C per day is needed for every 10 kg increase in body weight.” In other words, if you weigh 70 kg, 120 mg of vitamin C is recommended for you to optimize your immune health.

Thereby, “a person weighing 90 kg should take an additional 30 mg of vitamin C to reach the optimal goal of 140 mg per day”, complete the researchers. “Wheras’a person weighing 120 kg would need at least an additional 40 mg of per day to reach the required 150 mg.”

Vitamin C: a weapon against Covid-19

According to Anitra Carr, these new discoveries could help people suffering from obesity to better protect themselves from diseases. “Especially in this time of Covid-19, because vitamin C is an important and vital immune support nutrient to help the body protect itself against serious viral illnesses,” she says.

Indeed, obesity is one of the main risk factors for developing a severe form of Covid-19. On the other hand, previous research has repeatedly proven that vitamin C is essential for proper immune function, including “helping white blood cells fight infection,” the researchers explain. “The results of this study therefore suggest that increasing vitamin C intake in the event of overweight (…) as well as finding the right levels to take can help better support the immune system”, adds the professor.

How to eat more vitamin C?

The easiest way to increase vitamin C intake is to eat more foods that contain it. This is particularly the case for certain fruits and vegetables such as apples, oranges or kiwis. “A medium-sized apple contains 10 mg of vitamin C,” say the researchers. “So if you weigh between 70 and 80 kg, eat an extra apple or two will come down to achieving the optimal amount of vitamin C you need.” On the other hand, if you weigh more than this weight, an orange that contains 70 mg of vitamin C or a kiwi that contains 100 mg will be more suitable. “For people who don’t like to eat fruit or who have a restricted diet, especially because of diabetes, vitamin C tablets are an excellent alternative,” the experts add.

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