Living with Lupus

Vitamin C, the Immune System, and Lupus

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Vitamin C has many vital functions in the body, but how does it effect Lupus Warriors? How much vitamin C should one take?

There is an ongoing debate whether or not vitamin c is a prophylaxis against the flu and the common cold. This essential nutrient, though, is vital in essential bodily functions as well as regeneration.

Vitamin C, which is also known as ascorbic acid, is a nutrient that plays many important roles in the proper function and maintenance of your body. Vitamin C prevents disorders such as scurvy, but beyond that it is essential in the building and repair of the body’s connective tissues. Connective tissues, specifically collagen, are proteins that help to form skin, ligaments, cartilage, bones, and teeth, as well as helping to maintain blood vessels and organs.

The possible benefits of adequate vitamin C intake range from a reduced duration of the common cold to prevention of cardiovascular disease to possible cancer prevention. Many dermatologists also instruct their patients to apply topical vitamin C onto their skin to prevent free radical damage.

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Vitamin C and the Immune System

For Lupus Warriors, taking care of the immune system is crucial. As mentioned earlier, a lack of vitamin C can lead to scurvy, a serious immune deficiency.

Several cells of the immune system accumulate vitamin C and need the vitamin to perform their task, especially phagocytes and t-cells. Therefore, vitamin c is not a preventive remedy, but rather a necessary one to ensure the immune system’s proper function. In the end, the immune system is what protects the body against illnesses.

Repairing Tissues

Topical vitamin C is the new essential skincare ingredient to keeping skin looking young and refreshed. This is because vitamin c has immense capabilities of building and rebuilding the body’s tissues, like how it encourages the growth of collagen. Supplemental vitamin c might assist the body in repairing damaged tissue from flares.

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How Much Vitamin C Should One Take?

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has created a set of reference values for specific nutrient intake levels, and that includes vitamin C. The guidelines consider average daily nutrient intake from both supplements and foods, according to the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). These guidelines meet the standards for more than 97% of healthy individuals. Below are the recommended intake amounts for vitamin C:

The debate is on whether or not daily low-dose vitamin c is better for the body than a sporadic one time high-dose of vitamin c. Some studies of IV high-dose vitamin C in patients with cancer have shown improved quality of life, as well as fewer side effects.

High-Dose Vitamin C

High-dose vitamin C may be taken:

  • by mouth, typically in pills or lozenges
  • given by an intravenous (IV) infusion (through a vein into the bloodstream)
    • When taken by IV infusion, vitamin C can reach higher levels in the blood than when the same amount is taken orally

Some clinicians believe that high-dose vitamin c can help combat lupus flares from the onset or aid in recovery. This belief is rooted in the medical community’s knowledge of the regenerative properties of vitamin C.

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Vitamin C in the News

The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health

Normal human skin contains high levels of vitamin C, which stimulates collagen synthesis and assisting in antioxidant protection against UV-induced photo-damage. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can neutralize and remove oxidants. Such as those found in environmental pollutants and after exposure to ultraviolet radiation. This activity appears to be of particular importance in the epidermis, where vitamin C is concentrated in the skin. Find out more, here.


Vitamin C and Heart Health

Can vitamin C help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD)?

Researchers explored the role of vitamin C on heart health in a large number of studies and subsequent meta-analyses. These studies suggest that vitamin C can favorably affect blood pressure and endothelial function, two risk factors for CVD.

Observational studies have also noted increases in CVD risk among people with low plasma concentrations of vitamin C.

Discover more about vitamin C and heart health, here.


The Discovery of Vitamin C

Scurvy was a common problem in the world’s navies and is estimated to have affected 2 million sailors.

A Scottish doctor, James Lind, conducted one of the first ever clinical trials to develop the theory that citrus fruits cured scurvy. Still, at the time of the study in 1747, researchers had no concept of vitamins.

“Axel Holst and Theodor Frölich produced scurvy in the guinea pig, which like humans requires vitamin C in the diet. In 1928, Albert Szent-Györgyi isolated a substance from adrenal glands that he called ‘hexuronic acid’. Four years later, Charles Glen King isolated vitamin C in his laboratory and concluded that it was the same as ‘hexuronic acid’.” Learn more here.

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A Lupus Warriors Takeaway

To ensure you are getting enough vitamin C, look at your diet. Be sure to eat fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits and dark green vegetables.

Generally speaking, even high doses of vitamin C are easily tolerated, but with any increased amount be sure to watch for adverse reactions and speak with your lupus treatment team about adding anything to your treatment plan.

Updated on September 14, 2020.

Comments (18)

18 thoughts on “Vitamin C, the Immune System, and Lupus

  1. I am taking 10,000 mg of vitamin C daily I have been doing this for 2+ years I was diagnosed with SLE 27 years ago and have had major complications as a result. I know without a doubt that vitamin C and high doses has dramatically helped my lupus.

      1. Meagan, I also struggle with Lupus and after reading this article, I will be using a high dose of vitamin C from a source that I trust, Shaklee. I’ve been using their products for 5 years now, but have not used the Zinc and Vitamin C. However, I’m about to start. If you are interested, you can go to this site and check it out, us.shaklee.com/hcn.

  2. C- vitiman will improve immune system, so will it’s not effect or increase lups flair ?

    1. I question this as well. I had to cut out all citrus as I get bad mouth, throat and face blistering if in contact with any.

  3. I get sores in my mouth when i try to take vit. C. Too much citrus juice or pineapple has the same result. So this isn’t for me.

    1. Consider trying vitamin C made from rose hips instead of pure ascrobic acid; might be better tolerated

  4. I was doing extra reading on Liposomal VIt C and found this website. I do not have lupus but breast cancer. As PART of my natural protocols in my healing journey I was doing intravenous Vit C 2x /wk and Liposomal C on the days between. My tumor has shrunk from 6+ cm to about 2 cm in less than a year. Since July I have been doing only Liposomal Vit C. A 1000mg cap is equal to about 6000 mg of ascorbic acid. It is contained in a fat molecule which delivers the entire amount of Vit C into your cells thus avoiding any of the problems that high doses of regular Vit C causes in most of us. Liposomal is just as good as intravenous Vit C and some research shows it to be even better. It is certainly much less expensive. Please do the research; there is plenty of it online. However, I do suggest that you use duckduckgo.com for your search engine. It does not censor medical info or follow you. I hope this is helpful for those of you looking for better ways to absorb your Vit C. I wish all of you the very best in your healing journey!

    1. Which liposomal Vit C have you used. There are so many products trying to get into this market now, it’s hard to know which to trust.

  5. Please add this to my comment above: FYI, I take 10 caps daily divided which is the equivalent of 60,000 mg or 6 g of regular Vit C. I have NO side effects from such a high dose. I certainly don’t think any of you need that much. I mention this so that you need not be afraid of taking high dose. I might add that I’m 70 y/o but look at least 10 if not 15 years younger. I also have plenty of energy. : )

  6. I was diagnosed with Lupus in 2017 and just this year my DR took the diagnosis back since the medicines wasn’t doing anything for me. I refuse to believe that because I had bad reactions to different medicines that I don’t have Lupus. In the past six month I have been dealing with a lot of things being off on my blood work. From October to March I was in a flare, my face was inflamed, swollen and knots all over my nose, around my mouth and chin, inside my nose. They were very painful. I went to every one of my doctors they all kept saying adult acne. I was on a strong antibiotic for 6 months and it never helped my face. Finally my thyroid dr told me to stop them. I had steroid shots for my carpal tunnel and my face started to heal up. I have told every dr this also that when I get the shots my face starts to heal. My cortisol levels have been back and forth for over a year now. I was in the hospital after having my gallbladder out and they told me my adrenal glands weren’t functioning. Every test after that has showed fine or not working, it goes back and forth. I switch thyroid drs and he ran all kinds of test and did a ton of blood work. My thyroid is normal for the first time in 4 years but I have vitamin d, c and b12 deficiency. I have been on vitamin d (50,000IU 3 times a week) for over 6 months and my numbers have actually gone down, vitamin b12 has gotten better with 10,000UI a day and I start vitamin c this week. I really believe I have Lupus and these are things that come with it but I can’t get a doctor to seem to wanna listen and read between the lines. I will be 32 in May this year and I just want to feel good. I have struggled with my health since I was 19 when my thyroid started and I had radiation to kill it, to female problems and surgeries, and gallbladder out of no where. I have fibromyalgia also and suffer with chronic pain ALL DAY long.

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