What You Should Know About Vitamin C
By Khrystyana Kirton
Edited by Stephanie Dawson
Reviewed by Nima Shei MD
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble nutrient that is vital to all creatures. Foods that are especially rich in vitamin C are citrus fruits (such as oranges and grapefruit) and their juices, as well as red and green pepper, kiwi, broccoli, strawberries, baked potatoes, tomatoes, parsley, strawberries, papaya, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens and Brussels sprouts. Here are seven health benefits of vitamin C.
Vitamin C is a powerful and effective antioxidant that protects our bodies from free radicals that cause oxidative stress. Excessive oxidative stress, or “cellular rust,” can lead to a host of severe medical conditions, such as atherosclerosis that can cause both heart disease and stroke, and is associated with many different types of cancer, including lung, mouth, throat, colon, stomach and esophagus. Vitamin C also helps to regenerate the body’s supply of vitamin E (another useful antioxidant).
Not only is vitamin C a well-known component of the immune system, it is also necessary for collagen, the main structural protein found in connective tissue. A healthy dose of vitamin C will protect the body from infection and maintain healthy bones and teeth, as well as quicken the natural ability to repair wounds.
Vitamin C has been shown to lower blood pressure, and therefore lessen the probability of hypertension, as well as the serious health problems that follow, such as cardiovascular disease.
Along with lowering blood pressure, vitamin C ensures proper dilation of blood vessels, which can prevents such diseases as atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, congestive heart failure, and angina pectoris (an inadequate supply of blood to the heart that causes severe chest pains).
Vitamin C dramatically lowers blood lead levels. This is especially important for children living in urban areas which aren’t renovated often and may have lead paint on the walls, as studies show that lead toxicity can lead to behavioral and developmental problems such as learning disabilities and lowered IQ. Adults, moreover, may suffer from kidney damage and high blood pressure.
Along with its immune functions that fight against bacteria, viruses, and infection, vitamin C also serves as an effective antihistamine that will lessen the unpleasant effects of the common cold, including inflammation, stuffy nose and aches.
The lens of the human eye requires vitamin C to function properly, and a deficiency can lead to cataracts (a condition in which the lens becomes increasingly opaque, causing blurry vision). A higher intake of vitamin C has been shown to fight cataracts by increasing the amount of blood flow to the eye.
Its good to remember that not all vitamin C supplements are the same. Most studies use 500 daily milligrams of vitamin C to achieve health results. That’s much higher than the RDA of 75-90 milligrams a day for adults. Unless a diet of plenty of fruits and vegetables is possible, there may be a need to take a dietary supplement of vitamin C to gain all benefits. The current suggestion is taking 500 milligrams a day, in addition to eating five servings of fruits and vegetables.