12 Studies on the Benefits of Vitamin C. These Days, Boosting Your Immune System is Number 1.
By Dr. Robin Rose
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and is vital to our health. Not only is it a powerful antioxidant, but it is imperative for the biosynthesis of collagen, carnitine, and neurotransmitters. Many animals and plant species have the ability to make Vitamin C for their own requirements. However, humans do NOT possess this function due to lack of an enzyme called, gluconolactone oxidase- fascinating!
We need to ensure that our diets are loaded with Vitamin C. Fortunately, for us, many fruits and vegetables are loaded with this crucial nutrient. We need at least 9 servings of these foods to positively impact our health. Unfortunately, only 10-20% of American adults are able to attain this goal, and upwards of 45% of us are Vitamin C deficient.
The recommended RDA of Vitamin C is 75-90mg, however, studies show that in order to get the best health benefits from Vitamin C you need to consume at least 500 mg daily plus an additional 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, which makes a case for Vitamin C supplementation.
The main health benefits of Vitamin C:
- Boosts your immune system: Vitamin C is essential for promoting a healthy immune response by stimulating the production of white blood cells known as lymphocytes and phagocytes, which help protect the body from infection. Low vitamin C levels have been linked to poor health outcomes. For instance, studies show that people who develop pneumonia tend to have lower Vitamin C levels, and supplements have been shown to shorten the recovery time. If you want to stay fit and healthy, then adding more Vitamin C to your diet should be a priority.
- Assists with weight loss: Vitamin C status is inversely related to body mass. Individuals with adequate vitamin C status oxidize 30% more fat during a moderate exercise session than individuals with low vitamin C levels. So think twice about adding Vitamin C to your daily regimen as you will get the most out of your fat burning workout if your Vitamin C levels are high.
- May help manage high blood pressure: Vitamin C has been shown to decrease blood pressure. Vitamin C is water-soluble, therefore, it behaves as a diuretic causing the kidneys to remove more sodium and water from the body, which helps to relax the blood vessel walls. This is important because having lower blood pressure reduces your chances of stroke and cardiovascular disease.
- Increases iron absorption (preventing anemia): Vitamin C aids in converting poorly absorbed forms of iron from plant-based sources, into a form that is more bioavailable. Vitamin C is essential for making red blood cells and transporting oxygen throughout the body, preventing anemia.
- Helps maintain healthy hair and skin: Vitamin C plays a critical role in promoting and maintaining skin and hair health. Vitamin C helps build the protein collagen and coupled with its ability to increase the absorption of iron, you will not only have healthier skin and hair, but you will maintain it.
- Good for wound healing: Studies have shown that taking Vitamin C may shorten wound healing time. Vitamin C plays a major role in the skin’s defense system. It is actively transported to the skin, where it can act as an antioxidant and help strengthen the skin’s barriers.
- May help lower risk of chronic disease (i.e. cardiovascular disease and diabetes): Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that prevents the accumulation of free radicals, which can promote a state known as oxidative stress. Free racial damage from oxidative stress has been linked to many chronic diseases, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Taking at least 1000 mg of Vitamin C daily can reduce fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin A1c, serum insulin levels, and other markers of lipid metabolism in patients with type 2 diabetes. Consuming at least 500 mg of Vitamin C daily may reduce the risk of heart disease. Studies have shown that taking 700 mg or more of Vitamin C lowers the risk of heart disease by 25%. Another analysis elucidated the role of taking at least 500 mg of Vitamin C daily on decreasing risk factors for heart disease, such as blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Good for mental health and preventing memory loss as we age: 35 million people worldwide suffer from dementia. Oxidative stress and inflammation affecting the brain, spine, and nerves (central nervous system) have been shown to increase the risk of dementia. Studies have linked dementia and an impaired ability to think and remember to lower levels of Vitamin C. Evidence suggests that people with higher levels of Vitamin C are less likely to suffer from fatigue and depression.