Can Vitamin C Actually Boost Immunity?

by Dr. Eric Karchmer, PhD, MD (China), LAc |

Can Vitamin C Actually Boost Immunity?

When you feel a cold or flu coming on, you may reach for Vitamin C - after all, we've been told since we were children to "drink our orange juice!" when trying to feel better. But what does the research say about Vitamin C, and could Immunity Support be a better solution?

Vitamin C, a water-soluble nutrient, acts as an antioxidant in the body. Antioxidants protect your body from free radical damage caused by pollutants, toxins and ultraviolet light. We can't discount the importance of Vitamin C as an essential vitamin, but let's learn more about what the research says.

Can Vitamin C Actually Boost Immunity?

Vitamin C does tangentially support the immune system, as it improves absorption of iron in plant-based foods which in turn can help the immune system work properly. But does loading up on Vitamin C actually prevent the cold or flu? It's somewhat unclear. Studies show it may help reduce the duration of the illness, but it has not been shown to prevent or cure a cold

Is More Vitamin C Always Better?

For adults, the recommended daily amount for Vitamin C is 65 to 90 milligrams (mg) a day, and the upper-level intake is 2,000 mg a day. Vitamin C is found naturally in a lot of our favorite foods: oranges and other citruses, broccoli and other cruciferous veggies, red and green peppers, tomatoes, spinach and other leafy greens. If you typically eat the recommended servings of fruits and veggies per day, you're probably getting plenty of Vitamin C.

Over-the-counter super-doses of Vitamin C have increased in popularity, and can contain up to 1,000 mg per dose (more than 10x the daily recommendation, on top of your regular consumption). However, there is no evidence that shows it can prevent illness. Plus, taking more than the recommended dosage of Vitamin C can potentially cause:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Headache
  • Insomnia

Enter Yu Ping Feng San 

Acupuncturists and Doctors of Chinese Medicine have turned to Yu Ping Feng San to boost immunity for nearly 800 years, and this powerful formula remains just as relevant today. This year, a healthy immune system is especially important to protect against illness, flu season just around the corner. 

Chinese medicine takes a different approach than Western medicine. Rather than wait until illness occurs and then treat symptoms, Chinese medicine is more preventive, taking into account the whole person. 

Chinese medicine understands that viruses and other pathogens are always present. They are not a problem if you have a strong defensive Qi, the protective shield that circulates on our bodies’ surface. However, if your defensive Qi is deficient, pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria can break through the natural line of defense. Chinese medicine, unlike Western medicine, which uses vaccination to trigger immune responses, focuses on strengthening the body’s defensive energy.

Yu Ping Feng San comprises three powerful herbs that work in concert to support the defensive Qi by strengthening the immune system:

  • The main herb main herb, Astragalus Root, reinforces the defensive Qi and fortifies the immune system. Also, according to Chinese herbal medicine theory, it supports antiviral properties as well as antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties—all vital for an effective immune system.
  • The herb Fang Feng has been used in healing medicines for centuries. According to Chinese herbal medicine theory, its unique properties help stop the spread of disease from internal or external sources by warding off infections and viruses.
  • The third herb, Bai Zhu, works to boost the digestive system, which feeds the defensive Qi energy.

Working in concert to strengthen one's defensive Qi, these three herbs work preventatively by strengthening the immune system and protecting against external pathogens. By including Yu Ping Feng San as part of a daily regimen along with a healthful diet that includes plenty of vitamin C and other vitamins from natural foods, you’ll go a long way to protecting your immune system this upcoming flu season. So, don’t wait until you feel an illness coming on. Start now to prevent illness from taking over your health.

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Dr. Eric Karchmer is a practicing Chinese medical doctor, medical anthropologist, and co-founder and Chief Doctor of Chinese Medicine for DAO Labs. From 1995-2000, Eric studied at the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine and today is both a licensed acupuncturist and professor at Appalachian State University. Eric can be reached at

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