There is now copious evidence that Vitamin C benefits people with impaired immune function, whether that impairment is the result of disease or simply of aging. In patients with frequent skin infections, for example, who had known impairment in neutrophil tracking and killing of microorganisms, Vitamin C was as effective as a powerful immune-regulating drug, Levamisole, at improving neutrophil function and producing long-lasting remission. But unlike Levamisole, which produced severe side effects causing 8% of subjects to drop out of the study, no patients in the Vitamin C arm dropped out. Similar improvements in neutrophil function, and dramatic clinical recoveries, were seen in patients with recurrent furunculosis (boils), on a dose of 1,000 mg per day.
This same dose of Vitamin C was found to boost immune cell functions in women who were an average of 72 years old. In this study, lymphocyte and neutrophil function improved in all members of this group, including those who were healthy, those with major depression, and those with coronary heart disease. This study demonstrated the far-reaching effects of vitamin C in the aging body. Few people realize the importance of having ample supplies of water-soluble vitamin C in their body. Without regular ingestion, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) levels drop rapidly and can produce hidden effects, long before major signs of scurvy appear. Otherwise unexplained fatigue, malaise, or mind fog may in reality be symptoms of Vitamin C depletion.
All major immune system cell lines function at their peak with ample Vitamin C supplies. With inadequate intake or plasma levels, those cells are less able to detect, track, and kill invading organisms or precancerous cells. That means that Vitamin C depletion can leave one vulnerable to dangerous infections. New studies are helping to confirm that Vitamin C supplementation can reduce duration and severity of the most prevalent respiratory infection, the common cold, and makes it less likely one will catch a cold in the first place. Given the health risks associated with adults who develop pneumonia after a cold, prevention with adequate Vitamin C (1,000 mg and higher daily doses) looks more promising. This dose will assure you are obtaining sufficient Vitamin C to emulate studies documenting improved immune function, protection against the common cold, and other age-related disorders.