It’s important for people to get all vitamins in their system in regular daily amounts; they all serve different purposes in order to keep us healthy. This month, we’re spotlighting Vitamin C, and all that it can do to help us maintain the best and healthiest lives possible.
Vitamin C is one of the safest and most effective nutrients. It may not be the cure for the common cold, but the benefits of vitamin C may include protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling.
A recent study published in Seminars in Preventative and Alternative Medicine that looked at over 100 studies over 10 years revealed a growing list of benefits of vitamin C.
How Much Vitamin C is Enough?
Most studies use 500 daily milligrams of vitamin C to achieve health results, That’s much higher than the recommended daily amount of 75-90 milligrams a day for adults. So unless you can eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, you may need to take a dietary supplement of vitamin C to gain all the benefits. Most suggest taking 500 milligrams a day, in addition to eating five servings of fruits and vegetables. There is no real downside to taking a 500 milligram supplement, except that some types may irritate the stomach. That being said, it’s safest to take a non-acidic, buffered form of the vitamin. The safe upper limit for vitamin C is 2,000 milligrams a day.
The Health Benefits of Vitamin C
According to recent research, vitamin C may offer heath benefits in these areas:
- Stress: A recent meta-analysis showed vitamin C was beneficial to individuals whose immune system was weakened due to stress – a condition which is very common in our society. Because vitamin C is one of the nutrients sensitive to stress, and is the first nutrient to be depleted in alcoholics, smokers, and obese individuals, it makes an ideal marker for overall health.
- Colds: When it comes to the common cold, vitamin C may not be a cure. But some studies show that it may help prevent more serious complications. There is good evidence taking vitamin C for colds and the flu can reduce the risk of developing further complications, such as pneumonia and lung infections.
- Stroke: Although research has been conflicting, one study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those with the highest concentrations of vitamin C in their blood were associated with 42 percent lower stroke risk than those with the lowest concentrations. The reasons for this are not completely clear, but what is clear is that people who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables have higher blood levels of vitamin C.
- Skin Aging: Vitamin C affects cells on the inside and outside of the body. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined links between nutrient intakes and skin aging in 4,025 women aged 40-74. It found that higher vitamin C intakes were associated with a lower likelihood of a wrinkled appearance, dryness of the skin, and a better skin-aging experience.
Other studies have suggested that vitamin C may also:
- Improve macular degeneration
- Reduce inflammation
- Reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease
Vitamin C’s Role in the Body
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is necessary for the growth, development, and repair of all body tissues. It’s involved in many bodily functions, including formation of collagen, absorption of iron, the immune system, wound healing, and the maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth. Vitamin C is one of many antioxidants that can protect against damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals, as well as toxic chemicals and pollutants like cigarette smoke. Free radicals can build up and contribute to the development of health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and arthritis. Vitamin C is not stored in the body (excess amounts are excreted), so overdose is not a concern. But it’s still important not to extend the safe upper limit of 2,000 milligrams a day to avoid stomach upset and diarrhea.
Water-soluble vitamins must be continuously supplied in the diet to maintain healthy levels. Eat vitamin-C-rich fruits and vegetables raw, or cook them with minimal water so you don’t lose some of the water-soluble vitamin in the cooking water.
Vitamin C is easily absorbed both in food and in pill form, and it can enhance the absorption of iron when the two are eaten together.
Deficiency of vitamin C is relatively rare, and primarily seen in malnourished adults. In extreme cases, it can lead to scurvy, which is characterized by weakness, anemia, bruising, bleeding, and loose teeth.
Vitamin C is one of many supplements that keep our bodies running smoothly. Contact Brevard Health Alliance today to connect with a doctor who can analyze any vitamin deficiencies you may have.