Vitamin C: The Heroic Vitamin
It shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, the supplement industry today is worth billions of dollars.
But do you need vitamin C supplements? What role does vitamin C play in your nutrition and health anyway? What foods contain it? What does it do?
We hear a lot about the power of vitamin C. The most common, well-known benefit is its ability to stop a cold in its tracks. While not entirely accurate, it does have some immune boosting abilities and more. Let’s dive in. What are the basics of vitamin C?
Vitamin C in Your Body
Like many vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, you need vitamin C. In fact, it’s categorized as an essential vitamin. This means the body can’t make it, so it has to be obtained through your diet.
You can find it in an array of fruit and veggies. It’s in oranges, kiwi, strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, and more. So eat up! Vitamin C has a lot of important function and roles in your body.
It’s a water-soluble vitamin that is needed by the body for the creation of collagen, a type of protein in your bones, muscles, and skin (Fun fact: Collagen is actually the most abundant protein in the body).
It’s further involved in protein metabolism (protein is the building block of life) and the creation of various neurotransmitters.
Here’s another cool fact: Vitamin C is found in the highest concentrations in white blood cells, your eyes, adrenal glands (the glands responsible for the production of the stress hormones and sex hormones), pituitary gland (also known as the ‘master gland of the endocrine system’), and the brain.
You can probably make a fairly informed guess about where this is going with Vitamin C and its benefits. But we’re going to lay it all out for you anyway.
The Benefits of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is inevitably an important part in your nutrition and health. Experts recommend that women obtain about 75 mg per day from their diet or supplements, and that men obtain about 90 mg per day. So, without further adieu, what are the notable benefits of vitamin C?
1. Vitamin C is jam-packed with antioxidants.
Okay, so what’s the deal with antioxidants? These wicked molecules help prevent your body’s cells from damage and disruption.
Processes throughout the body produce substances called free radicals. Free radicals cause harm - think cancer and heart disease. But antioxidants act as your knight in shining armour. They prevent free radicals from wreaking havoc via oxidative stress.
Basically, the more antioxidants, the better. According to the various studies, adequate vitamin C intake may increase your blood antioxidant levels by 30%. Totally worth it. Where’s that orange juice at?
2. Vitamin C is associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
If you didn’t already know, heart disease is the top cause of death across the globe.
But vitamin C acts as another hero of sorts by possibly lowering bad cholesterol, decreasing high blood pressure levels, and reducing triglyceride levels.
Studies prove this. Interestingly, some scientific research has also shown vitamin C obtained through your diet may be superior in this benefit than vitamin C supplements.
Start stocking up on kiwi, oranges, and strawberries. Food trumps supplements here.
3. If you suffer from gout, vitamin C is your ally.
Gout is an arthritic condition that happens from too much uric acid in the blood. As a result, your body starts depositing it in crystal form into your joints. It creates a sudden and severely painful state.
But vitamin C draws its sword again. Vitamin C was found in various research to reduce uric acid levels in the blood. Consequently, it lowers an individual’s risk of gout.
4. Vitamin C helps with iron absorption.
Iron is necessary for energy production. It makes up a critical part of hemoglobin on your red blood cells. Hemoglobin transports oxygen to your cells to create energy.
So, how does vitamin C come into play? Vitamin C may help the absorption of iron by transforming it into a more easily absorbed version of it. More vitamin C in your diet can even increase your iron absorption by over 65%.
5. Vitamin C boosts your immune system.
Vitamin C does this through various pathways. It increases white blood cell production. It helps these cells function better, and it helps in your first line of defence: your skin.
It strengthens your skin and its protective barriers. Researchers also suggest it may help improve wound healing (bonus!).
6. Vitamin C makes your skin look better.
Your skin looks firmer. It looks plumper. It appears more smooth and wrinkle-free. Who doesn’t want that?
Its antioxidant properties help protect the skin from damage. The result? You look younger. Use vitamin C in your skin care routine. Plenty of skin care products include it as part of their ingredients. Try ‘em out!
7. Vitamin C may reduce your chances of dementia later in life.
If you’re not sold yet on vitamin C, this one will do it for you.
Since it decreases oxidative stress, it protects every cell in your body, including the brain and neural structures. These structures, when damaged or inflamed, increase your risk of dementia. Thus, if these factors are reduced, your risk of dementia decreases.
Get Your Vitamin C Fix!
Start eating more foods rich in vitamin C. Your body will thank you.
Make smoothies with kiwis, strawberries, spinach, kale, and oranges. Or heck - why not have a fondue night? Who doesn’t like chocolate dipped strawberries?
Add oranges or strawberries to top off your spinach and kale salad. There are so many ways you can include more vitamin C in your diet. No excuses! Start reaping the benefits of this vitamin today.
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