YES - vitamin C is a very important micronutrient for our immune system!
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid, and it has an essential role in our immune health. Numerous studies have reported that vitamin C has powerful antimicrobial properties, which decrease infection risk.
Research has shown that a vitamin C deficiency appears to make you more susceptible to infection. And whilst some research suggests that although regular intake of vitamin C likely won't prevent you from catching a cold, it may reduce the duration and/or severity of cold symptoms.
A review of 31 studies found that consuming 1-2g of vitamin C daily reduced cold duration by 18% in children and 8% in adults. The review also confirmed that vitamin C may be beneficial for individuals who undergo short periods of intense physical exercise (1).
As well as supporting our immune system, vitamin C has an important role in helping to protect the cells in our body. This powerful antioxidant helps to heal wounds, and maintain skin health, as well as helping to keep our blood vessels, bones and cartilage in tip-top condition.
In addition, it's known that vitamin C increases iron absorption, thus, individuals with iron deficiency may benefit from increasing their vitamin C intake.
How much vitamin C do we need a day?
In the UK, government guidelines for adults 19-64 is 40mg a day. Unlike the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K - vitamin C can't be stored in the body, so you need it in your diet every day.
As we get older, our absorption of vitamin C decreases significantly, so older people need to increase their vitamin C intake and spread it out over the course of the day.
What foods can vitamin C be found in?
Kiwi fruit, yellow and red peppers, tomatoes, red chillies, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, raspberries and strawberries are all excellent sources of vitamin C.
Alternatively, if you find you aren't eating enough of these plant foods, you can bump it up with supplementing. There is 50% (RNI) of vitamin C in My Immune Hero which can help you meet requirements if you are struggling to consume enough vitamin C through your diet alone.
(1) Hemila, H. and Chalker, E. vitamin C for treating and preventing the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. 2013 Jan 31;(1):CD000980.