Vitamin C is an essential vitamin, meaning your body can’t produce it. Yet, it has many roles and has been linked to impressive health benefits. Vitamin C is necessary for the growth, development and repair of all body tissues. It's involved in many body functions, including formation of collagen, absorption of iron, the proper functioning of the immune system, wound healing, and the maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.
It’s water-soluble and found in many fruits and vegetables, including oranges, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, kale, and spinach. The recommended daily intake for vitamin C is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men. For pregnancy and lactation, the amount increases to 85 mg and 120 mg daily, respectively.
Could reduce your risk of chronic disease
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can strengthen your body’s natural defenses.
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals by giving up some of thier own electrons. In making this sacrifice, they act as a natural "off" switch for the free radicals. Consuming more vitamin C could increase your blood antioxidant levels by up to 30%. This helps the body’s natural defenses fight inflammation.
Decreased Risk Of Heart Disease
Heart disease is the #1 cause of death worldwide.
Many factors increase the risk of heart disease, including high blood pressure, high triglyceride or LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, and low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. Vitamin C may help reduce these risk factors, which may reduce heart disease risk.
For example, a combined almost 300,000 participants found that after a decade, people who took at least 750 mg of vitamin C daily had a 25% lower risk of heart disease than those who did not take a vitamin C supplement.
Another analysis of 13 studies looked at the effects of taking at least 500 mg of vitamin C daily on risk factors for heart disease, such as blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The analysis found that taking a vitamin C supplement significantly reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol by approximately 7.9 mg/dL and blood triglycerides by 20.1 mg/dL.
Helps prevent iron deficiency
Iron is an important nutrient that has a variety of functions in the body. It’s essential for making red blood cells and transporting oxygen throughout the body. This is especially useful for people on a meat-free diet, as meat is a major source of iron. In fact, simply consuming 100 mg of vitamin C may improve iron absorption by 67%. As a result, vitamin C may help reduce the risk of anemia among people prone to iron deficiency. In one study, 65 children with mild iron deficiency anemia were given a vitamin C supplement. Researchers found that the supplement alone helped control their anemia. If you have low iron levels, consuming more vitamin-C-rich foods or taking a vitamin C supplement may help improve your blood iron levels.
Immune System Booster
Usually, people take vitamin C supplements to boost their immune system, as it plays a big role in it.
Vitamin C is a critical micronutrient. It contributes to your immune defense system by supporting multiple cellular functions of your body's adaptive immune systems. Being an antioxidant, it can also fight free radicals in the body, thereby decreasing inflammation and boosting immunity. It can keep your skin healthy and enable it to act as a barrier against toxic compounds entering the body.
Some recent studies suggest that high doses of vitamin C may decrease the length of cold symptoms. Furthermore, it enhances cytokine production of white blood cells and inhibits the apoptosis (cell death) of different forms of T-lymphocytes. It also supports antibody production and the activity of natural killer cells. Additionally, vitamin C can also make bacterial membranes more absorbent to some antibiotics.
Protects your memory and thinking as you age
Dementia is a broad term used to describe symptoms of poor thinking and memory. It affects over 35 million people worldwide and typically occurs among older adults. Studies suggest that oxidative stress and inflammation near the brain, spine, and nerves (altogether known as the central nervous system) can increase the risk of dementia.
Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant. Low levels of this vitamin have been linked to an impaired ability to think and remember. Moreover, several studies have shown that people with dementia may have lower blood levels of vitamin C. Furthermore, high vitamin C intake from food or supplements has been shown to have a protective effect on thinking and memory as you age. Vitamin C supplements may aid against conditions like dementia if you don’t get enough vitamin C from your diet. However, additional human studies are needed to understand the effects of vitamin C supplements on nervous system health.
May Help Manage High Blood Pressure
Approximately one-third of American adults have high blood pressure. High blood pressure puts you at risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death globally. Studies have shown that vitamin C may help lower blood pressure in both those with and without high blood pressure. An animal study found that taking a vitamin C supplement helped relax the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart, which helped reduce blood pressure levels. Moreover, an analysis of 29 human studies found that taking a vitamin C supplement reduced systolic blood pressure (the upper value) by 3.8 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (the lower value) by 1.5 mmHg, on average, in healthy adults. In adults with high blood pressure, vitamin C supplements reduced systolic blood pressure by 4.9 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 1.7 mmHg, on average. While these results are promising, it’s not clear whether the effects on blood pressure are long term. Moreover, people with high blood pressure should not rely on vitamin C alone for treatment.