We all know that vitamin C is good good to take when you have a cold, but did you know it improves overall immune function?
A potent antioxidant that protects against free radical cellular damage, Vitamin C is essential for the formation and maintenance of collagen and other structural materials in bones, teeth, and capillaries. Employing a mouse model, a Japanese research group studied the effects of long-term dietary supplementation (20 mg/kg/day or 200 mg/kg/day, for one year) on the thymus, the gland located at the base of the neck that is responsible for the development and differentiation of T-cells – white blood cells key to the immune system.
At the end of the one-year supplementation period, the researchers measured he weight of the thymus organ and the number of immune cells present in the peripheral blood, spleen, and thymus. The team found that the high-dose vitamin C intake inhibited the aging-related shrinkage of the thymus and maintained thymic output. The study authors write that: “These results suggest that a long-term high-dose intake of [vitamin C] is effective in the maintenance of immune cells, partly through the suppression of age-related thymic involution.”