Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid, L-ascorbate and L-ascorbic acid. It is a water-soluble vitamin. Importantly, vitamin C plays a crucial part in many of our body functions including the production of some neurotransmitters, L-Carnitine and collagen.
It’s vital for ongoing good health. Mainly because it does so much for us.
For example, it keeps our immune system working hard, is good for our skin and bones, maintains healthy blood pressure, can help reduce the physical and mental responses to stress and can even help us to lose weight.
What’s more, it helps our bodies to metabolise proteins and acts as an incredible antioxidant. Best of all, high strength vitamin C doses have been linked to the reduction in the risk of some cancers.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons why vitamin C is essential:
The production of collagen is aided by vitamin C. In itself, collagen is the main component of connective tissue and is the dominant protein in mammals. In fact, up to 2% of your muscle tissue is made up of collagen.
Parts of the body where collagen is an essential component:
- Blood vessels
Treatment of illnesses
Originally, vitamin C was the go-to treatment for Scurvy, which is a result of a vitamin C deficiency. And this appears as bleeding gums, loose teeth fatigue, anaemia and swollen joints.
More commonly today, we see vitamin C as a cure for the common cold. More specifically, it has been linked to a reduction in the more irritating symptoms such as a blocked nose as well as the time spent suffering from the cold itself.
Healing wounds, infections and more
Back in 1982, scientists found that wounds (cuts and grazes) on people who regularly took vitamin C through their diet healed faster than those who didn’t. Now, this was concluded that the vitamin C role in collagen production was the cause.
People who regularly take adequate vitamin C are seen to put up a better fight when it comes to infections, compared to others with a vitamin C deficiency. Particularly, acute respiratory infections, responses to stress and malnutrition.
Additionally, research has suggested that vitamin C can kill Tuberculosis (TB) bacteria in a lab environment, which is incredibly encouraging. A study has shown that TB drugs work better when combined with TB drugs.
Essentially, the role vitamin C plays is to act as an antioxidant, to reduce damage from inflammation and oxidative stress and finally, to repair tissue.
Vitamin C could help to treat cancer. Because of its antioxidant properties, it acts as a protection against oxidative stress, making it harder for other molecules to be oxidised.
There are studies suggesting that incredibly high strength vitamin C works well in combination with chemotherapy for cancer patients.
It works like this. The oxidation process produces free radicals, which are a catalyst for a chain reaction that damages cells. High strength vitamin C doses reduce the growth rate of the damaged cells, ie, the cancerous tissues. And so intravenous vitamin C is often suggested as a complementary therapy because there are few side effects known to us at current.
Other benefits of Vitamin C have been noted as the below, making vitamin C an essential supplement.
Improves heart health
Vitamin C prevents hypertension and high blood pressure and thus heart disease by widening the blood vessels and reducing the pressure.
Lessens the risk of cataracts
Regular vitamin C has been seen to lower a person’s risk of developing cataracts and other age-related macular degeneration.
In a 2014 study, participants were either given 2g vitamin C or a placebo an hour before a 20 minute trip on a raft, placed in a wave pool. Levels of seasickness were then either reduced or non-existent.
Reduces risk of diabetes
Diabetes attacks the kidneys, nerves and eyes. However, those who regularly eat vitamin C-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables are seen to be at a far lesser risk.
Those who regularly take an appropriate level of vitamin C enjoy lower levels of cholesterol.
Because vitamin C encourages the uptake of iron, anaemia is less likely to occur in those who eat an appropriate diet of green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits.
Prohibits production of histamine
Histamine is produced by the immune system and the result is inflammation, amongst other problems. Those who take 2 grams of vitamin C daily have lower levels of histamine in the blood.
Reasons for vitamin C deficiency
Those with low vitamin C may experience a deficiency because of their age or if they smoke. In developed countries, adequate vitamin C is typically available through diet alone, though some experience a deficiency more so than others. Including:
- Passive smokers
- People with chronic illness
- People with malabsorption
- Infants given boiled or evaporated milk
Smokers and vitamin C
The reason smokers have decreased levels of vitamin C is that they have higher levels of oxidative stress. The act of smoking is also the cause of inflation and damages mucous membranes found in the lungs, throat and mouth.
As you’ve learned, vitamin C is important for reducing inflammation, but also for helping to produce healthy mucosa.
There you have it, a whistle-stop tour of why vitamin C is essential. What it can do to benefit your short and long term health as well as what it can help you avoid.
Unfortunately, this super-vitamin isn’t something we naturally produce within our bodies. Whilst it’s true that you can get all the vitamin C you need by incorporating vitamin C-rich foods it into your diet, you can also use a high strength vitamin C supplement.
Foods containing vitamin C include
- Spinach and other dark leafy vegetables
- Red meat
It’s recommended that you take around 35 – 65mg a day, which you can easily get from one orange alone. Good luck and good health to you!