7 Amazing Health Benefits of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a vital nutrient that helps in the formation and maintenance of bones, blood vessels, and skin. It is an essential nutrient that is not produced by the body. But its requirement is linked with many impressive health benefits. In this post, we will discuss the health benefits of Vitamin C.
Vitamin C is one of the safest and effective nutrients that help the body protect against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular diseases, eye disease, and prenatal health problems and even prevent skin wrinkling. It also is known as Ascorbic acid is also an antioxidant, meaning that it can neutralize free radicals that can damage cells at the genetic level.
Sources and Recommended Intake of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient that is found in many fruits and vegetables like oranges, lemon, guava, papaya, cantaloupe, grapefruit, berries, kiwi fruit, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, kale, spinach, potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, etc.
Although there are many natural sources, the highest amount of Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits. It is also available in the form of oral supplements like capsules, chewable tablets, gummies, effervescent powders and tablets which can be taken daily as per the dose prescribed by the physicians.
The human body does not store vitamin C and hence it is important to maintain adequate levels of vitamin C through daily intake of food that contains this essential nutrient.
Experts recommend a daily dose of 90 milligrams for adult men and for adult women it is 75 milligrams.
Inadequacy of Vitamin C results in a deficiency known as scurvy and its symptoms include swollen joints, bleeding gums and loose teeth, anemia, and tiredness. Also, if a person takes a higher amount of Vitamin C then rebound scurvy can happen.
Health Benefits of Vitamin C
1. Reduces Stress
Vitamin C allows the body to quickly clear out cortisol, which is a primary stress hormone that increases sugars in the bloodstream, thereby reducing stress(1). The elevated levels of cortisol disturb the normal functioning of the various systems like the digestive system, reproductive system, and growth processes. Vitamin C controls the levels of cortisol and hence helps in the proper functioning of all systems.
2. Better Immunity
Generally, people take supplements of vitamin C to boost their immunity. Vitamin C has various important roles in the immune system. Firstly, Vitamin C helps in the production of white blood cells also known as lymphocytes and phagocytes(2). These white blood cells help protect the body against infections.
Secondly, vitamin C helps these white blood cells function more effectively by protecting them from harmful molecules such as free radicals(3). Also, vitamin C is an essential part of the skin defense system, where it acts as an antioxidant and helps strengthen skin barriers which are the first line of the defense system. It is a very significant health benefit of vitamin C.
3. Improves Cardiovascular Health
Globally, it is found that cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death. The factors that contribute to augment the risk of cardiovascular disease include high blood pressure, high levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL), low levels of “good” cholesterol(HDL) and triglyceride levels.
Vitamin C helps to reduce these risk factors thereby reducing the risk of heart disease(4). It is one of the best health benefits of vitamin C.
4. Battles Hypertension
It is found that the world’s one-third population suffers from hypertension that is high blood pressure. High blood pressure risks an individual at heart disease, leading to death globally. Here, vitamin C plays an important role in lowering blood pressure in those with and without high blood pressure.
The research study shows that vitamin C relaxes the blood vessels that supply blood to heart, thereby helping individuals reduce blood pressure levels(5).
5. Helps in Iron absorption and Prevent Anemia
Iron is important for a variety of functions in the body. It is important for the synthesis of red blood cells and also for transporting oxygen throughout the body. Vitamin C helps to improve the absorption of iron from the diet by assisting in the conversion of iron into easily absorbable iron from poorly absorbed iron(6). As a result, it may help reduce the risk of anemia in individuals who are susceptible to anemia due to iron deficiency.
6. Boosts Energy
Vitamin C uplifts the energy reserves of the body and thereby boosts energy. Hence, an individual remains active throughout the day. It is the most underestimated health benefits of vitamin C.
7. Vitamin C Benefits for Skin
When an adequate amount of vitamin C is present in the body, it helps in the healing process of bodily wounds. Vitamin C plays a vital role in the synthesis of the body’s natural collagen which in turn helps fend off the signs of aging(7). It decreases the cell damage and also helps in repair and prevents dry skin.
Read More: 9 Fruits for Glowing Skin
Functions of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient since the body does not produce it, but it is required to perform many essential functions in the body. It helps the body for growth, development, and repair of all body tissues.
1. Vitamin C for Wound Healing
Vitamin C plays an important role to perform many biologic functions which include healing of wounds, repair, and maintenance of cartilage, bone and teeth and synthesis of collagen.
Collagen, which is produced with the help of vitamin C, is the main component of connective tissue and the most abundant protein in mammals. It is an important component in fibrous tissues such as Ligaments, Tendons, Skin, Cornea, Bones, Cartilage, Gut, Blood vessels.
The research study carried out years ago shows that people who have a deficiency of vitamin C take a longer time to heal wounds. The study also concluded that cuts, wounds, and grazes heal faster in people with higher intake of vitamin C as Vitamin C contributes to collagen production.
2. Vitamin C Fights Infections
Vitamin C is one among many antioxidants which will protect against damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals, also as toxic chemicals and pollutants like cigarette smoke. Free radicals can build up and contribute to the development of health conditions like cancer, a heart condition, and arthritis.
Hence, Vitamin C helps in tissue repair and reduces the damage that occurs due to inflammation and oxidation. Also, as an antioxidant, it helps to strengthen the body’s primary defense system.
People who consume the proper amount of vitamin C have a better ability to fight off infections as compared to people with vitamin C deficiency.
3. Vitamin C prevents Tuberculosis
People with adequate levels of vitamin C get prevented from acute respiratory infections.
One of the research studies found that vitamin C can kill drug-resistant tuberculosis bacteria and hence shorten the therapy(8).
4. Vitamin C and Cancer Therapy
Vitamin C as an antioxidant may help to treat cancer by protecting the body against oxidative stress and by preventing the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation reactions are known to produce free radicals that form chain reactions inside the body that damage cells.
Hence, high doses of vitamin C are found to reduce the speed of growth of cancerous tissue. Also, Vitamin C helps to regenerate other antioxidants in the body.
Still, it is important that one must not exceed the upper limit of 2000 milligrams a day.
How to Increase the Absorption and Assimilation of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient. Hence, it is important to get it from food or drink on a daily basis. The reason behind the daily uptake is that water-soluble vitamins don’t remain in our bodies for a longer period of time.
It is important to supply such essential nutrients in the diet to maintain healthy levels. We can either eat vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables raw, or cook with minimal water.
Citrus fruits, green peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, white potatoes, and sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamin C.
Few tips for getting the most vitamin C out of your daily diet:
- Prefer to eat your fruits and vegetables raw whenever possible. Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient and most of it is lost while cooking.
- Eat more fermented vegetables. For example, kimchi provides about half of the recommended daily dose of vitamin C.
- Keep fruits in a way (cut up fruits) that they are available for ready to eat at any time especially for a quick snack
- Eat raw vegetables with hummus, low-fat dips, and salsas.
- Include lettuce, tomatoes and shredded broccoli on all the sandwiches and wraps you prepare.
- Add grated fruits and veggies to recipes for muffins, soups and wherever possible.
- Serve a handful of dried fruit on top of cereal along with nuts and fruits for an easy snack.
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient. It is important that the body get this nutrient from the food we eat. Studies have shown that 18% of orally ingested vitamin C is absorbed into our bloodstream when taken from the food.
Hence, it is important to intake the daily recommended milligrams of nutrients to avail benefits from it.