Vitamin C is an essential nutrient needed that fulfills many roles in your body. This wonder vitamin helps your body to grow, develop and repair its tissue, and is also linked to several health benefits. Although some animals can produce vitamin C naturally, humans need to take vitamin C from nutritional sources.
Thankfully, it can be found in a variety of foods, including many types of citrus such as oranges, lemons, and melons, and some vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and spinach. Here are some reasons why you should consider adding more vitamin C to your diet.
Regulates Blood Pressure
Around one in every three American adults has high blood pressure, which is currently the leading cause of death globally. However, studies have shown that vitamin C intake keeps blood pressure low both in people who have hypertension and those without.
A study conducted by the John Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2012 analyzed data from 29 randomized and controlled clinical trials that also compared results from a vitamin C intake with a placebo group. The researchers found that an average dose of around 500 mg per day of vitamin C (around 6 cups of orange juice) produced modest reductions in blood pressure in subjects.
Another clinical trial on humans with existing high blood pressure conducted in 2012 showed that vitamin C intake reduced by an average of 4.85 mmHg for systolic blood pressure and 1.67 mmHg for diastolic blood pressure.
Vitamin C is used to prevent and treat several diseases. Historically, it was used to prevent and treat scurvy, a degenerative disease which is caused by vitamin C deficiency. In modern times, it Is generally used to prevent and treat the common cold, despite the lack of scientific evidence to suggest that it prevents the common cold. Studies have shown, however, that regular intake of vitamin C reduced the duration and severity of cold symptoms in adults, and had an even greater mitigating effect in children.
Vitamin C can also help reduce risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure and unregulated levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides. An analysis of 13 separate studies on heart disease and vitamin C consumption found that an intake of 500 mg/day of vitamin C reduced the level of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) in the bloodstream by 7.9 mg/dl. The same analysis also found that regular vitamin C intake also reduced the level of triglycerides (a type of fat that contributes to the hardening of arteries) by 20.1 mg/dl. Another analysis of 15 studies also found that consuming vitamin C from food, rather than supplements, also lowered the risk of heart disease.
Gout prevention is another compelling area of interest for vitamin C research. Gout is a type of painful arthritis in which excess uric acid crystallizes and gets deposited in the joints. These uric acid deposits are mistaken for foreign bodies by immune system antibodies, causing extremely painful swelling and inflammation in the affected area.
However, studies have shown that vitamin C intake may help reduce the levels of uric acid in the blood, thus reducing the frequency and severity of gout attacks. In one study conducted in 2008, the subjects who consumed the most vitamin C out of a group of 1,387 men had considerably lower concentrations of blood uric acid those who consumed less, even after the results were adjusted for other factors such as protein and meat intake.
Another research conducted by the same team in 2009 analyzed 20 years of data from over 46,000 healthy men to see if their vitamin C intake had any link in the development of gout. The study reported that subjects who took a vitamin C supplement had a 44% decreased risk of gout.
Improves Iron Absorption
Iron is an essential nutrient that helps fulfill various functions in the body, the chief of which is the production of red blood cells that the body uses to transport oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. However, iron, especially iron that comes from plant-based sources, comes in a form that isn’t readily absorbed by the body.
However, study after study has shown that taking vitamin C either by consuming food rich in vitamin C or taking vitamin C supplements dramatically helps increase your body convert iron from food sources into a form that is readily available for use by the body.
Vitamin C helps promote iron absorption by converting it into a form that makes it easier for the body to process. In fact, a study conducted in 2000 showed that consuming 100mg of vitamin C helped improve iron absorption in subjects by as much as 67%.
Another study conducted on 65 children with iron deficiency anemia in 1992 confirms that vitamin C helped with their health conditions. Within weeks of a daily average intake of 30mb of vitamin C, the subjects showed a remarkable improvement in their iron deficiency anemia symptoms.
Boosts The Immune System
Vitamin C also plays a multi-faceted role in boosting the body’s immunity. It is a strong antioxidant that helps boost your body’s defenses against harmful free radicals, singular particles that cause molecular damage to the body. However, antioxidants like vitamin C help prevent damage by neutralizing free radicals, donating an electron to it so it does not take electrons from cells and cause cellular damage in the process.
This nutrient also plays a role in the production of white blood cells, the body’s “warrior cells” that help the body fight against infections and external pathogens such as bacteria and viruses.
Despite its many health benefits, adverse effects may occur between vitamin C and certain drugs. Talk to your doctor about your vitamin C intake if you are using any anticoagulant medication such as warfarin because it may affect its action. Estrogens/oral contraceptives, nicotine products, barbiturates, tetracyclines, and aspirin may decrease levels of vitamin C.
While too much dietary vitamin C is unlikely to be harmful, megadoses of vitamin C supplements (above the upper limit of 2,000 mg a day) might cause nausea, diarrhea, heartburn, vomiting, insomnia, headaches, and abdominal cramps.
Overall, vitamin C can boost antioxidant levels in the body, reduce blood pressure, protect against certain illnesses, improve iron absorption, and boost immunity. If you are not able to get enough vitamin C from your diet, taking supplements is still a good and simple alternative.