Vitamin C is an essential vitamin and a powerful antioxidant. Essential vitamins are those the body cannot make on its own, so to take advantage of the potent benefits, we have to get it through our diet.
While many foods like citrus fruits, sweet potatoes and tomatoes contain vitamin C, it may not always be available in the foods we eat. This is a water-soluble vitamin, so is sensitive to heat and light and may be destroyed during food preparation.
This nutrient is stored in only small amounts in our body and excreted through urine, so continuous intake is important. On the bright side, these same traits also make it very difficult to have too much in your system, and supplementation can help fill the nutritional gap if you don’t eat enough vitamin C rich foods.
Benefits of Vitamin C
Antioxidant Protection – As mentioned, vitamin C is not only an essential nutrient, but also a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are molecules that support the body’s natural defenses, as it boosts antioxidant levels in the blood. In fact, at least one study showed that supplementation with vitamin C significantly increased blood antioxidant levels.
Immune Support – Vitamin C has long been a staple nutrient and dietary supplement to the diet of those who want to ward off colds and flus. Also called ascorbic acid, vitamin C is known to increase the strength and protection of an organism, which supports immunity. (1)
Iron Absorption – Lack of iron leads to fatigue and weakness, and possibly anemia, which is low blood iron. Vitamin C happens to be an important nutrient that enhances iron absorption. (2) Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin, and hemoglobin helps carry oxygen to your muscles, making it an important nutrient for your overall energy. Therefore, ensuring you get enough vitamin C may be an important factor in preventing iron deficiencies.
Collagen Synthesis – Collagen is a protein that is part of the structure of our skin, bones, and even ligaments. It gives our joints flexibility and makes our skin plump and youthful. More important, collagen helps reduce inflammation in the digestive tract, keeping metabolism intact. And it turns out that your body needs vitamin C to make collagen. In fact, a recent study showed that vitamin C enriched gelatin was important for tissue repair and injury prevention when added to an exercise program. In addition, vitamin C is a favorite in the aesthetic industry for beautiful skin and hair.
Protect Your Heart – Heart disease has many risk factors including high blood pressure and an imbalance of good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL). At least one study confirmed that vitamin C supplementation of at least 500 mg/d significantly decreased LDL. Another study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that high blood concentrations of vitamin C through diet may reduce heart health issues.
Vitamin C is an important nutrient that impacts our health, how we age and how we feel. Luckily, it is an easy nutrient to fit into our diet through both food and supplementation. Be sure to get your daily intake so you can reap the benefits this super nutrient has to offer.
1 Sorice A, Guerriero E, Capone F, Colonna G, Castello G, Costantini S. Ascorbic acid: its role in immune system and chronic inflammation diseases. Mini Rev Med Chem. 2014 May;14(5):444-52. doi: 10.2174/1389557514666140428112602. PMID: 24766384.
2 Hallberg L, Brune M, Rossander L. The role of vitamin C in iron absorption. Int J Vitam Nutr Res Suppl. 1989;30:103-8. PMID: 2507689.
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