Did you know there’s alot more to vitamin C than boosting your immune system?
Discover how to boost your vitamin C levels & learn the broad range of benefits vitamin C can have on your overall health…
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May 7th 2019 By
Table of Contents
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid is a water-soluble vitamin. It is an essential vitamin because, unlike most animals, humans can’t synthesise it endogenously. The intake must be made from foods where it is naturally present or from dietary supplements.
Vitamin C plays many roles in the human body; however, it primarily serves as a potent antioxidant. Some of the many other benefits include a reduction of high blood pressure levels, increased iron absorption and a boosted immune system. Ascorbic acids’ wide-ranging benefits can even protect your memory and thinking as you grow old.
Due to vitamin C being water-soluble it cannot be stored in the body, ultimately being excreted via urine. You will need to maintain vitamin C levels daily through diet or supplementation. However, during low dietary intake periods, it is reabsorbed rather than excreted, to postpone the onset of deficiency.
What are the top 5 benefits of vitamin C?
1. Boosts the immune system
Ascorbic acid plays a huge role in the immune system for two reasons.
Firstly as mentioned above vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, protecting cells from free radicals, therefore, having a positive effect on your immune system. The accumulation of free radicals induces a state known as “Oxidative stress”, which has a link-up to many chronic diseases.
Secondly, vitamin C also benefits your skin, which is the largest organ in the human body. By supporting your skin barrier function, vitamin C helps fight against various pathogens, protecting you from oxidative environmental stress.
2. Helps the body to fight against disease
Studies have shown that ascorbic acid is essential for fighting against disease and illness. Vitamin C allows phagocytes and T-immune cells to perform their tasks. This type of cell accumulates vitamin C, and as our requirement grows through disease or illness, we need to meet the demand via our diet or supplementation.
The severity and frequency of the flu and universal cold virus’ cannot be prevented through increasing your intake of vitamin C as commonly believed. However, vitamin C may have a positive effect on the duration of the illness.
3. Increase Iron Absorption
Iron remains an essential mineral for the human body. It is, therefore, an important consideration to ensure that you maintain optimum blood levels.
To improve the bioavailability of this microelement, you can incorporate foods with a high level of ascorbic acid into your diet to enhances iron’s absorption. Vitamin C has a significant role to play in iron’s intestinal absorption. Firstly, ascorbic acid prevents the formation of unabsorbable iron, and secondly, it can reduce ferric iron to ferrous iron, which is a requirement for the uptake of iron.
4. Reduce heart disease risk factors
Vitamin C has been shown to lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) and triglycerides that link to fatty build ups within the artery wall. By lowering these levels, vitamin C can be associated with reduced risk of heart disease.
5. Prevent Gout development
Vitamin C can also reduce uric acid levels in the blood, which in turn can lower the risk of Gout (a form of arthritis). Uric acid is a product of protein catabolism, which at high levels may turn into crystals that are deposited into joints.
What are the natural sources of vitamin C?
You can find Vitamin C in high doses through fruits and vegetables including; kiwifruits, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers (especially red and green) and broccoli along with many others.
Animal-based foods do not tend to provide a significant amount of ascorbic acid, especially when cooked. As a water-soluble vitamin, you need to be careful not to destroy the vitamin by cooking or storing in high temperatures, prolonged exposure to heat may reduce levels.
Vitamin C deficiency who is at risk?
Deficiency in vitamin C leads to Scurvy, a disease related to the unsuccessful hydroxylation of collagen, creating defective connective tissue. Symptoms of Scurvy include but are not limited to sore gums, loose teeth, fragile blood vessels, swollen joints and anaemia.
You may need a higher dose of ascorbic acid if you are an active or passive smoker, have limited food variety in your diet or you are a person dealing with certain chronic diseases.
- Harvey, Richard A., Ph. D. Lippincott’s Illustrated Reviews: Biochemistry. Philadelphia :Wolters Kluwer Health, 2011. Print.