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Fruits for boosting immunity
Immunity is the body′s defense mechanism against the invasion from different pathogens (bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites). Immunity is categorized into Innate Immunity and Acquired immunity. This innate natural immunity helps to prevent infection, eliminate invader pathogens, and stimulate the acquired immune response.
Innate immunity is the body′s first line of defence and is present from birth. Innate immunity is nonspecific and comprises of physical barriers (skin, epithelial and mucous membrane surfaces, mucus); anatomical barriers; epithelial and phagocytic cell enzymes (lysozyme), phagocytes (neutrophils, monocytes, macrophages), inflammation-related serum proteins (complement, C-reactive protein, lectins such as mannose-binding lectin, and ficolins); surface and phagocyte granule antimicrobial peptides (defensins, cathelicidin, etc.); cell receptors that sense the invading microorganisms and trigger a defensive response; and cytokines releasing cells and inflammatory mediators (macrophages, mast cells, natural killer cells).
Acquired immunity is specific immunity, which fights against a previously recognized specific microorganism or antigen by producing antibodies. There are two types of adaptive immunity: active and passive. 1, 2, 3
Recent research work has indicated that the immune system is affected by a proper balance of nutrients. Nutrients are of two types′ macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients comprised of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Micronutrients constitute vitamins and minerals. Also, sufficient water is required to keep the body hydrated and flush out the body toxins. Fat-soluble vitamins include Vitamin A, D, E and vitamin K. Water-soluble vitamins include Vitamin B complex (B1, B2, B6, B12), Vitamin C and Folic Acid. Minerals include calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, copper, and selenium.4 Sufficient amounts of these micronutrients are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of the physical barriers and immune cells. Fruits and vegetables are the main sources of these nutrients. Studies have shown that Vitamin C, Vitamin D and zinc play an important role in boosting the immune system.4, 5 Mango also contains phytochemicals such as phenolic, polyphenol, pigments, and volatile constituents.
Besides being the king among fruits, Mango contains many key nutrients which help the body′s natural immune system to work properly. It contains over 20 different vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, copper and fibre. A serving of ¾ cup of mango provides 8% of daily vitamin A, 50% of daily vitamin C, and 8% of daily vitamin B6 required for a typical adult. Vitamins B1, (B2), (B3), (B5), (B8); and folate or folic acid (B9), are also present in mango. It also provides 15% of the daily requirement of folate and copper. Mango also contains iron, magnesium and calcium in low amounts. Vitamins A, D, C, B6, zinc and iron help in maintaining the structural and functional integrity of mucosal cells which provide innate immunity to the body. The E and K vitamins are found in minor quantities.
Studies have revealed that Vitamin A is essential for providing intestinal immune response and supporting the gut barrier. It is essential for the imprint of T and B cells with gut-homing specificity and array T cells and IgA+ cells into intestinal tissues. Further vitamin A helps to reduce the toxic and destructive effects of Reactive oxygen species (ROS) and help to regulate the membrane fluidity. It helps in the normal functioning of B-cells which produce antibodies and also provides growth and differentiation of T-cells that determine the specificity of immune response to antigens (foreign substances) in the body. Vitamin A also contributes to the phagocytic activity of macrophages and regulates the functioning of NK cells and the production of IL-2 and the proinflammatory TNF-α, which activates the microbial action of macrophages.6
Vitamin B6 provides support to the intestinal immune system by aiding the formation and migration of lymphocytes into the intestine. It maintains the Th1 immune response and inhibits Th2 cytokine-mediated activity. It helps in enhancing the cytotoxic effects of natural killer cells NK cells) and restricting the spread of any infection, tissue damage, and reduces inflammation.
Vitamin B12 facilitates the One-carbon (1C) metabolism and supports many physiological processes together with the folate cofactor. It plays a significant role in cell division and is necessary for the reproduction and stability of DNA and RNA. It acts as a coenzyme in various enzymatic reactions helps in the synthesis of porphyrins which is an important component of hemoglobin. It helps in the formation of red blood cells and white blood cells along with folic acid, thus enhancing the formation of t-cells and helps in maintaining the balance between the ratio of helper T-cells and cytotoxic T-cells, thus maintaining cellular immunity. It is responsible for the one-carbon metabolism and cell division of nervous and hematopoietic cells.7
Folic acid along with vitamin B12 helps in the formation of Red blood cells (RBCs) and White blood cells (WBCS). It enhances the cytotoxic effects of natural killer cells (NK cells) and helps in limiting any infection and enhancing immunity. Folic acid is also essential for antibody production and metabolism.7
Vitamin C is an electron donor, hence acts as a potent antioxidant. It helps to maintain the redox homeostasis inside the cell and prevent damage of cells due to ROS or RNS during the oxidative burst. It further helps in the production of other antioxidants such as glutathione and vitamin E, to their active state. Vitamin C gets collected in the neutrophils and stimulates chemotaxis, phagocytosis, generation of reactive oxygen species, and finally microbial killing. It further helps in the production of cytotoxic T cells which in turn help the b-cells to produce antibodies to fight against any type of pathogen. 8
Iron plays an important role in the growth of epithelial cells and T cells. It maintains a balance between the helper T cells and cytotoxic T cells.
Copper aids in the free-radical scavenging of ROS and maintains intracellular antioxidant balance. It also helps in the formation of T-cells. In t plays a vital role in maintaining the functions of macrophages to combat certain infectious agents, neutrophils and monocytes and enhances NK cell activity. 5
Magnesium protects against the DNA damage caused by oxidative stress due to the overproduction of superoxide anions and enhances DNA replication and repair. It plays a vital role in the binding of the antigen to the macrophages and helps in antibody-dependent cytolysis. It also acts as a cofactor in antibody synthesis.5
Thus we see that mango is a store house of many vital vitamins and minerals and help to maintain the daily required amount of these three essential micronutrients and helps to improve the natural immunity.
- González., B. A. a. Á. Innate immune system. Autoimmunity: From Bench to Bedside [Internet]. 2013, Ch-2.
- Adrian F. Gombart, A. P., and Silvia Maggini. A Review of Micronutrients and the Immune System–Working in Harmony to Reduce the Risk of Infection, Nutrients 2020, 12,236, 1-41.
- Tatina T. Todorova, N. E. a.; Tsankova, G. Vitamin B12: Could It Be a Promising Immunotherapy? Immunotherapy - Myths, Reality, Ideas, Future 2017, Ch-5,, 85-100.
- Anitra C Carr , S. M. Vitamin C and Immune Function, Nutrients ,2017, 9, 1-25.