The immune system consists of a complex network of cells (macrophages, lymphocytes, etc.) distributed throughout the body and a set of molecules (cytokines, antibodies, etc.) that work together to defend it from pathogenic microorganisms and foreign substances. And now, research from the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) and the La Paz University Hospital (Madrid) concludes that vitamin C supplementation has a rejuvenating effect on the immune system of older adults.
And it is that the results of the work, published in ‘Experimental Gerontology’, indicate that vitamin C supplementation in septuagenarian people, in an amount of 500 mg a day, leaves their immune system a little less at the level they had decades ago. In addition, the study describes for the first time the ideal duration, 3 months, so that these beneficial effects are maintained in some functions of the immune system for at least half a year.
“The values of the functional capacities of the immune system in older people manage to resemble those of young adults. Supplementation makes people in their seventies present an immunity typical of their thirties”, says Mónica de la Fuente, director of the Aging research group, Neuroimmunology, and Nutrition of the UCM.
“The results of our study are very important because, on the one hand, they point, given the characteristics of the immunological functions analyzed of being markers of health and predictors of life expectancy, to having a good strategy to increase the healthy longevity of, On the other hand, being able to improve immunity in old age is transcendent to help the elderly population face situations, such as the current ones, in which it is essential to be better prepared to defend oneself against an infection”, adds De la Font.
Similarly, although the differences in the effects of vitamin supplementation between men and women were not very significant, there were some differences according to gender. “In various functions, vitamins seem to have greater positive effects in women, although it is in men that a greater maintenance of these effects is appreciated after finishing supplementation”, the researchers share.
Similarly, the researchers also examined the effects produced on the immune system if vitamin E (200 mg per day) was also added to the equation, although in this case showing this joint supplementation we were similar to those obtained with vitamin C alone. Thus, the data support that the use of these 2 vitamins also generates positive effects, and does not imply an excess of antioxidants”, explains De la Fuente.
“Both vitamin C and E are powerful antioxidants that help neutralize excess oxidants and thus be able to achieve what is called ‘redox balance, which allows the proper functioning of our physiological systems, and especially that of our immunological system”, concludes the UCM expert, aware that certain supplementation is recommended in aging to have the amounts of antioxidants that allow combating the oxidative stress and inflammation typical of advancing age.