Vitamin C is one of the most popular micronutrients due to it’s role as an immune booster and source of energy, activity and happiness. We investigate the 7 main health benefits of vitamin C that have given it such a good reputation.
Vitamin C has been widely regarded as essential to everyone’s nutrition for years now, especially sailors who were the victims of scurvy and a host of other diseases linked to the lack of fruit and vegetables that were available to them.
Ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, is one of the most important water soluble vitamins. It is essential for collagen, carnitine and neurotransmitters biosynthesis. Most plants and animals synthesize ascorbic acid for their own requirement. However, apes and humans cannot synthesize ascorbic acid due to lack of an enzyme named gulonolactone oxidase.
For this reason, we need to ensure that our diets are packed with vitamin C and, luckily, many fruits and vegetables contain adequate amounts of vitamin C so getting it is easy. The recommended RDA of vitamin C is 75-90mg, however, recent studies suggest that in order to get the best health benefits from vitamin C you would need to consume 500mg daily, which makes a case for vitamin C supplementation.
Best sources of Vitamin C
- Sweet potatoes
- Citrus fruits
- Cooked broccoli
- Red cabbage
- Green peppers
- Red peppers
- Kiwi fruit
- Tomato juice
7 main health benefits of Vitamin C
1. Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant
Antioxidants act to protect the cells and limit the damage by stabilizing and mopping up free radicals. So Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Beta Carotene could help keep the body younger and protect it against serious life threatening conditions.
Studies show that consuming more vitamin C can increase your blood antioxidant levels by up to 30%. This helps the body’s natural defences fight inflammation.
In relation to exercise, where oxidative stress and free radicals are prevalent due to the intense nature of it and its effect on the body, exercise-induced oxidative stress is highest for people with lower vitamin C levels. We can then surmise that if you are currently training and engaging in intense daily workouts that you should supplement with vitamin C to prevent the deleterious effects of free radicals.
2. Vitamin C lowers your blood pressure
As vitamin C is water soluble, it also acts as a diuretic causing the kidneys to remove more sodium and water from the body, which helps to relax the blood vessel walls, thereby lowering blood pressure.
Lower blood pressure also means that you have less chance of having a stroke and increased cardiovascular health, which is so important today as many people suffer from cardiovascular disease.
3. Vitamin C boosts your immune system
We’ve already heard of how vitamin C prevents curable diseases such as scurvy and how it combats a variety of diseases. As a result, it boosts your immunity and has been found to stave off illnesses such as colds and flu.
Studies show that vitamin C is essential to stimulate the immune system by increasing the strength and protection of the organism. Due to its role in reducing inflammation, it is essentially for immunity and general health.
Finally, vitamin C protects the immune system, reduces the severity of allergic reactions and helps to fight off infections. If you want to stay fit and healthy then adding more vitamin C to your diet should be a priority.
4. Vitamin C increases your iron absorption
Vitamin C-rich fruits such as goose berry has been reported to increase the bioavailability of iron from staple cereals and pulses. We know that iron’s main role is to increase the body’s ability to carry oxygen through the blood and deficiency can result in anaemia. Therefore, vitamin C is highly beneficial to this process.
5. Vitamin C helps maintain healthy skin and hair
If you want clearer skin and stronger hair then vitamin C plays a major role in making sure this becomes a reality. Vitamin C helps build the protein collagen and coupled with the aforementioned absorption of iron you’ll not only have healthier skin and hair but you’ll maintain it.
Today, collagen is a bit of a buzzword but rather avoid supplementation and consume collagen-rich foods such as berries and foods high in omega-3 such as avocados and salmon. Alongside your vitamin C diet you’ll ensure your natural beauty forever.
6. Vitamin C assists with weight loss
Everyone either wants to lose weight, build muscle or maintain where they are right now, and sometimes it’s really difficult and you need that little bit extra to assist you. Well, alongside your balanced diet and workout regime you should aim to increase your intake of sweet potatoes and citrus fruits.
Studies have shown that vitamin C status is inversely related to body mass. Individuals with adequate vitamin C status oxidize 30% more fat during a moderate exercise bout than individuals with low vitamin C status; thus, vitamin C depleted individuals may be more resistant to fat mass loss. In short, you’ll get the most out of your fat burning workout if your vitamin C levels are high.
7. Vitamin C is good for physical and mental health
All-in-all, vitamin C is an essential micronutrient that doesn’t have a good reputation by accident. Alongside how it improves your ability to heal wounds and reduce inflammation inside and outside your body, as well as giving you a great look, it has also been marginally viewed as a vitamin that gives you more energy and boosts your mental health.
Although hard to really nail down, people with higher levels of vitamin C have been observed to be less likely to suffer from depression and fatigue. Whether this is due to all the other aforementioned benefits is hard to say, but more importantly you should just increase the amount of vitamin C-rich foods you eat and see for yourself, you won’t be disappointed!
Symptoms of a vitamin C deficiency
If you’re deficient in vitamin C then you could suffer from the following symptoms:
- Inflammation of the gums (also called gingivitis)
- Slow wound healing
- Dry and splitting hair
- Rough and dry skin
- Weak immune system
- Swollen and painful joints