Vitamin C: Bridging The Immunity Gap For NCDs

Alongside good nutrition and diet, increasing the intake of micronutrients such as vitamin C can enhance health outcomes and boost immunity.Vitamin C is vital for patients with NCDs like diabetes or hypertension, as it can protect end organ damage and improve vascular function

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The last two years have reinforced the importance of good health and immunity, which is essential not just now but in the longer-term for both seasonal infections and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). NCD prevalence in India is rising at an alarming rate, with morbidity increasing by 83% in the last three decades. Cardiovascular diseases, cancer, respiratory diseases and diabetes form the leading NCDs affecting Indians, associated with the highest mortality rates. Two thirds of Indians affected by NCDs fall in the most productive age group (26 to 59 years), as per a 2021 ASSOCHAM report. Of these, diabetes and hypertension have particularly high associated burdens, with a prevalence of 2.9% and 3.6% respectively, across India.

Alongside good diet and nutrition to enable better NCD management, there is a clear need for self-care solutions to maintain optimal health. While a healthy, balanced diet is essential for good nutrition, the country’s nutritional consumption is inadequate on its own, with people’s existing diets contributing to malnutrition and rising NCD incidence. Vitamin C (or ascorbic acid) remains an essential micronutrient in humans, playing a crucial role in supporting various aspects of the immune system. As a powerful antioxidant, it also strengthens the body’s natural defences.

Dr. Shashank Joshi, Endocrinologist, Lilavati Hospital, Mumbai commented, “Vitamin C is an essential nutrient to boost immunity. It is observed that patients with common NCDs, like diabetes and hypertension, may require more vitamin C than others, owing to the high oxidative stress seen in these patients. Individuals can boost their regular nutritional intake through vitamin C supplementation, in addition to a rich, balanced diet, comprising citrus foods and tomatoes.”

Dr. Parag Sheth, Director, Global Medical Affairs, Abbott commented, “Vitamin C offers impressive health benefits, such as boosting immunity and antioxidant levels. Abbott is committed to raising awareness on the importance of vitamin C, thereby encouraging adequate daily intake, which can benefit immunity and promotes overall health and well-being. By providing trusted, quality solutions to meet specific local needs, we aim to help people benefit from good health and live better, fuller lives.”

Vitamin C deficiency has been observed across the country, with an estimated 74% and 46% prevalence amongst adults of North India and South India respectively. The deficiency is commonly observed in people suffering from NCDs, resulting in lower immunity levels to manage their conditions. Common risk factors for vitamin C deficiency include increased age (specifically the geriatric population), malnutrition, exposure to pollution or pollutants like smoke, biomass fuels and high tobacco usage, many of which commonly affect Indians.

Vitamin C also plays a role in alleviating seasonal infections, like cold and flu, during the winter season especially in people suffering from NCDs. In cardiovascular diseases or hypertension patients, the nutrient can protect end organ damage and improve vascular endothelial function, which helps regulate blood clotting.

To ensure adequate intake of the micronutrient and benefit from its positive outcomes on one’s overall health, vitamin C supplementation can be beneficial.

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