Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an essential water-soluble nutrient that primarily exerts its effect on a host defense mechanisms and immune homeostasis and is the most important physiological antioxidant. Stable intake of vitamin C is essential for life in humans because the body does not synthesize it. Even the numerous studies have demonstrated that vitamin C supplementation stimulates the immune system, prevents DNA damage and significantly decreases the risk of a wide range of pathologies; the potential protective mechanisms are still largely unknown. This review summarizes the recently known facts about the role of vitamin C on the selected cells of the immune system and potential molecular mechanisms involved. Further, in this review, many new data about the positive effects of vitamin C on the immune system, potential toxicological effects, vitamin C supplementation in disease development, as well as some proposed mechanisms of vitamin C activity, are discussed.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.