You may have heard that you should take vitamin C supplements or consume vitamin C-rich foods, but why? The answer is simple: vitamin C is an essential vitamin, meaning your body can’t produce it. Yet, it plays many roles and has been linked to many health benefits.
What does vitamin C do?
Vitamin C is widely recognized as an essential nutrient for its antioxidant properties. Vit C protects molecules in the body such as proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids from damage caused by reactive oxygen species, which are generated by metabolism, active immune cells, and exposure to toxins and pollutants. The vitamin is also a cofactor – a molecule that aids enzymes in chemical reactions. Additionally, vitamin C is needed for the synthesis of collagen, carnitine, and catecholamines. The vitamin functions in the immune system, healing wounds, fat metabolism, neurotransmitter production, and formation of blood vessels, among many other functions.
The role of vitamin C in immunity is significant. It stimulates the production of white blood cells, particularly neutrophils, lymphocytes, and phagocytes, as well as their ability to detect, move toward, and engulf pathogens.
Vitamin C is also involved in a wide range of physiological processes. It influences, for instance, other vitamins’ physiological levels. It regenerates vitamin E from its oxidized form and enhances the absorption of nonheme iron from foods. In addition, intravenous vitamin C might be an adjunctive treatment in various types of cancer and in treating certain types of viral infections.
The benefits of vitamin C
Vitamin C has many impressive benefits, so it’s important to make sure you get the recommended dose. Here are some of the top ones:
- Boosting blood antioxidant levels with vitamin C is one of the benefits of this powerful antioxidant. Chronic diseases such as heart disease may be reduced as a result.
- Supplementing with vitamin C has lower blood pressure in both healthy adults and those with high blood pressure.
- The use of vitamin C supplements has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. These supplements may lower blood levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides, which are risk factors for heart disease.
- Vitamin C-rich foods and supplements have been linked to lower blood uric acid levels and a lower risk of gout.
- Iron from sources other than meat can be better absorbed if vitamin C is consumed. As a result, iron deficiency may also be reduced.
- Vitamin C increases immunity by enhancing the function of white blood cells, strengthening the skin’s defense system, and speeding wound healing.
- Memory and thinking disorders like dementia have been associated with low levels of vitamin C. In contrast, eating and taking supplements rich in vitamin C can protect you.
How much vitamin C should you consume daily?
In adults, 65 to 90 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C is recommended each day, and 2,000 milligrams per day is the upper limit. It is unlikely that too much dietary vitamin C will be harmful, but taking megadoses of vitamin C supplements might cause diarrhea, heartburn, nausea, headache, vomiting, insomnia, and abdominal cramps.
Vitamin C foods you should consume
Most people get enough vitamin C from healthy eating. So, what foods should you consume? Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of vitamin C. In addition to citrus fruits, bell peppers, guavas, and kiwis contain the highest levels of vitamin C. Here are other good food options high in vitamin C:
- Kakadu plums
- Rose hips
- Chili peppers
- Sweet yellow peppers
- Brussel sprouts
- Mustard spinach
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