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Vitamin C is regarded as one of the safest and most effective nutrients that cannot be produced by the body. Harvard T.H. Chan, School of Public Health states that vitamin C was originally used to prevent and treat scurvy. However, today vitamin C uses are endless ranging from fighting deficiencies to healing wounds. Some people even use this supplement to diffuse the effects of depression, dementia, stress, Alzeimer’s and other chronic diseases. Vitamin C benefits skin too by protecting it from harmful UV rays, pollutants and other environmental hazards.
What Is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a high value nutrition that is required for proper development and functioning of the body. Also called ascorbic acid, it is used to make collagen, a substance that stimulates the repair of tissues, enzymatic production and maintaining adequate functioning of the immune system. According to Harvard T.H. Chan, School of Public Health, vitamin C is also involved in proper functioning of the body’s immune system by stimulating the activities of white blood cells.
Benefits Of Vitamin C
Vitamin C benefits play an essential role in keeping your body healthy. It also acts as an antioxidant to protect your skin, cartilage, teeth, bone and blood vessels from damage. You can find this water-soluble nutrient in multiple fruits and vegetables including oranges, strawberries, kiwis, bell peppers, kale and spinach. However, sometimes it may not be sufficient and must be taken in the form of supplements too.
Let’s scroll through some of its other important benefits as follows:
Benefits Of Vitamin C For Health
1. Reduces The Risk Of Chronic Diseases
Vitamin C works as a strong antioxidant that reduces the effects of natural deficiencies in the body. It helps boost the immune system by protecting the cells from harmful radicals. These radicals can cause chronic diseases when accumulated. Thus, the intake of vitamin C can help the body fight inflammation resulting in the reduction of risks related to chronic diseases like heart diseases. According to the Western Human Nutrition Research Center, the intake of vitamin C can prevent chronic diseases.
2. Controls High Blood Pressure
Higher concentrations of vitamin C are often associated with lower blood pressure. Studies from the Nutritional Institutes of Health show that the intake of vitamin C helps relax blood vessels, which carry blood to the heart. This helps lower blood pressure levels to avoid heart diseases.
3. Reduces The Effects Of Scurvy
Low levels of vitamin C result in a condition called scurvy. According to Sampson Regional Medical Center, this disease can show symptoms like rash, muscle weakness, joint pains, tiredness or tooth loss. The intake of adequate vitamin C can help eradicate these issues for a healthier body.
4. Reduces Stress
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that reduces anxiety, stress, depression, fatigue and regulates mood. According to the National Institute of Health, vitamin C plays a therapeutic role in combating damage caused by oxidative stress in individuals that suffer from anxiety.
5. Treats Cold And Flu
Vitamin C helps prevent serious problems like pneumonia and lung infections by reducing the effects of cold and flu. A study published by the Harvard Medical School states that there is a significant reduction in cold symptoms on consuming 200 mg of vitamin C per day.
6. Reduces Blood Uric Acid Levels
Gout is a type of arthritis that results in inflammation of joints. People with this disease experience sudden swelling and attack of pain. National Institutes Of Health states that Gout is often associated with high uric acid in the blood that may crystalize and deposit in the joints when produced excessively. Intake of vitamin C helps reduce these significantly to protect you from such attacks.
7. Improves Iron Absorption
Iron is an important nutrient that helps produce red blood cells and transport oxygen throughout the body. The International Journal of Vitamin and Nutrition Research verifies that Vitamin C tablets benefit in absorbing the iron from your diet. This results in decreased risk of anemia and low iron levels.
8. Protects Memory And Thinking With Age
Dementia is a term that is used for symptoms of poor thinking and memory. This deficiency increases with age when oxidative stress and inflammation near the brain, spine and nerves also increase. Vitamin C acts as a strong antioxidant to fight these to protect hazardous effects on your thinking and memory. According to Alison Smith Ph.D., vitamin C also helps to convert dopamine into norepinephrine, which is essential for memory performance.
Benefits Of Vitamin C For Skin
1. Protects From UV Damage
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that acts as a shield against UV-induced damage caused by free radicals. Free Radical Biology and Medicine states that the photoprotective features of vitamin C can limit the damage by ultraviolent light exposure.
2. Prevents Skin Aging
Sun damage often leads to early signs of aging like wrinkles, pigmentation and sagging skin. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, adequate nutrients like vitamin C help lower the chances of wrinkles and dryness as you age. It rather helps better your skin’s appearance to make you look glowing from within.
3. Promotes Wound Healing
Scurvy often leads to poor wound healing. Free Radical Research held in 1997 claims that inflammatory responses increase free radicals at the site of injury while vitamin C can limit these free radicals to improve wound healing.
Benefits Of Vitamin C For Hair
1. Reduces Hair Loss
Iron is a vital nutrient to avoid chronic hair loss. According to pharmacist, Christina Chikaher, vitamin C helps absorb sufficient iron to improve the health of your scalp and hair follicles and reduce hair fall. Vitamin C also works as an antioxidant to fight oxidative stress that results in hair graying and hair loss.
2. Improves Hair Growth
Founder of Organic Skincare, Rianna Loving says that vitamin C is a vital nutrient that helps build collagen, which in turn stimulates hair growth and strength.
Deficiency Of Vitamin C
Harvard T.H. Chan, School of Public Health defines vitamin C deficiency as a shortfall of this nutrient in the body due to limited diet providing less than 10mg of the same daily. Persistent lack of vitamin C is referred to as a condition called scurvy. Symptoms of this deficiency can lead to bruising, easy bleeding and joint pains. Lower levels of vitamin C can also result in tooth loss, anaemia and a reduced rate of healing of injuries. Increasing the intake of the vitamin through a healthy diet or supplement tablets can treat these conditions well.
Risks And Precautions When Consuming Vitamin C Tablets
Even though the intake of vitamin C is likely to be safe for most people, some may experience side effects:
- Diarrhea, nausea and vomiting
- Heartburn, headache and abdominal cramps/pains
- Painful urination or pink/bloody urine
- Kidney stones
- Allergic reactions can lead to rash, itching/swelling, severe dizziness and troubled breathing
If you face any of these side effects, do not wait for it to get severe and immediately consult a doctor.
Precautions and warnings to be followed:
- Pregnant and breast-feeding women should not consume vitamin C by mouth in amounts more than 2000 mg daily for women over 19 years and 1800 mg for women between 14 to 18 years.
- Infants and children should not consume vitamin C by mouth in amounts more than 400 mg daily for children between 1 to 3 years, 650 mg for children between 4 to 8 years, 1200 mg for children between 9 to 13 years and 1800 mg for adolescents between 14 to 18 years.
- Taking vitamin C along with vitamin E and alpha-lipoic acid might worsen mental function of people suffering from Alzheimer’s.
- Avoid the intake of any vitamins immediately before and after an angioplasty as these may interfere with proper healing.
- Taking large amounts of vitamin C after a weight loss surgery can cause the risk of increased oxalate in the urine resulting in kidney stones.
- Older women with diabetes should not consume more than 300 mg of vitamin C per day as it may increase the risk of death from heart diseases.
- Vitamin C intake should be increased for people who smoke or chew tobacco.
How To Consume Vitamin C Tablets?
The most common sources of vitamin C are fruits and vegetables. These may include citrus fruits like oranges, kiwi, lemon and grapefruit and vegetables like bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and white potatoes.
If you are consuming vitamin C tablets as extended-release capsules then you must swallow them as a whole without crushing or chewing. Doing so can increase the risk of side effects. However, if you are prescribed to do so by splitting the tablet through a score line, then you must do it in a glass full of water and drink the same.
If you opt for wafers or chewable tablets, then chew them thoroughly before swallowing.
If you are taking lozenges, then put it in your mouth and allow it to dissolve.
Harvard T.H Chan, School of Public Health recommends the daily intake of vitamin C to be approximately 75 mg to 2000 mg for women and 90 mg to 2000 mg for men.
Some Fun Facts About Vitamin C
- Vitamin C was discovered almost 250 years ago when its deficiency caused scurvy.
- The only mammals that can’t make vitamin C in their bodies are primates, guinea pigs, fruit bats and humans. Evolution made humans lose one of the four vital enzymes needed to produce it.
- Mammals that produce their own vitamin C can live eight to ten times beyond their age of physical maturity.
- Smoking causes the body to excrete more vitamin C than usual.
- English sailors were called limeys because they sucked on limes to prevent scurvy.
- Vitamin C helps preserve colors and flavours in canned food.
- Vitamin C and coffee can be used to develop black and white photos.
- Vitamin C is the most widely researched nutrient on the internet.
Experts like Dr. Levy suggest that for optimal health, we need more vitamin C than we can get from food. Thereby, recommending the use of supplements. Adequate vitamin C has a reputation for being a fighter against multiple infections. Vitamin C is also regarded as a support to the immune system with its antioxidant and anti-inflammation properties.