In the autumn, the days get shorter, the temperature drops, environmental pollution increases and so too does the risk of catching a cold. Certain micronutrients, especially vitamin C and lactoferrin, help the body adapt to autumn and enhance our immune mechanisms to support our natural defences.
Recurrent respiratory infections
Impaired defence mechanisms are in fact the underlying cause of colds and flus (common cold, influenza, tracheitis, laryngitis, sinusitis). Recurrent respiratory infections (RRI) are of particular relevance in debilitated and fragile subjects, or those with a reduced or compromised immune system. Certain nutritional components such as vitamin C and lactoferrin help organise and increase our body’s immune mechanisms.
Vitamin C was chemically identified as an ascorbic acid more than fifty years ago. It is mainly present in the cortical layer of the adrenal glands, where vitamin C depletion is noted following infectious, nervous, and toxic stress. It is a water-soluble vitamin with multiple actions, summarised as follows: contributes to cellular respiration processes; helps defend against infections; neutralises toxic substances, promoting their elimination; protects the cell membranes against oxidation, with delayed tissue ageing; performs a similar action to magnesium, promoting the use of energy at the cellular level; promotes fat burning; promotes intestinal iron absorption; promotes zinc absorption, inhibiting the precipitation of zinc phytates (phytic acid, found manly in cereal bran, tends to sequester zinc, as well as iron, magnesium and calcium); performs a general tonic action on the body and immune system; accelerates wound healing; ensures the compactness of the collagen structure.
Lactoferrin is a protein isolated in 1960 from cow’s milk and found in many human secretions: tears, saliva, nasal and bronchial mucus, intestinal secretions, seminal fluid, cervico-vaginal mucus and blood. This protein is able to bind iron, preventing the development of bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses that need said element, in particular intestinal pathogens. Lactoferrin therefore performs an inhibiting action on infections because it promotes the growth of normal gut microbiota, which is not iron-dependent. Ultimately, lactoferrin prevents the colonisation of the mucous membrane surfaces by bacteria, fungi, parasites and pathogenic viruses, preventing subsequent penetration in the host’s cells.