Vitamin C

When you think of Vitamin C, you probably associate this nutrient with oranges and grapefruits. Although this is most certainly true, many are less aware of its potent antioxidant effects. Vitamin C is a water-soluble molecule which is necessary for growth and development.

It helps repair tissues in all areas of your body while working as a potent antioxidant. Antioxidants are simply nutrients that reduce damage due to free radicals. When these free radicals build over time, they’re what contribute to aging and disease.

Why Do You Need Vitamin C?

Without vitamin C, you would not be able to maintain optimal health. When it comes to body tissues, Vitamin C stimulates the growth and repair of tissues throughout the body. It’s known to help produce collagen, which is essential for skin, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and blood vessels. It’s also highly beneficial when healing wounds, maintaining teeth and bones, as well as aiding in the absorption of iron.

As mentioned, Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, helping to neutralize and destroy free radicals. This is essential when trying to prevent age-related illnesses, as well as a wide range of other chronic conditions, such as heart disease or arthritis.

Although deficiencies are fairly rare, many people do exhibit low levels of vitamin C intake. For those who smoke cigarettes, it’s important to be aware that they lower the amount of vitamin C in your body. Therefore, smokers are at a higher risk of vitamin C deficiency. Signs that you’re deficient include dry skin and hair, decreased healing time, nosebleeds, bruising, bleeding gums, and a decreased ability to fight off infections and even common colds.

When you do not get enough vitamin C, you increase your risk of a number of serious conditions, including gallbladder disease, high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks, cancers, a build up of plaque in your blood vessels, and more.

Key Benefits of Vitamin C

If preventing disease or illnesses isn’t enough to convince you, perhaps the range of positive benefits will. Vitamin C plays a role against the following conditions

Heart Disease

It’s not believed that Vitamin C reduces cholesterol levels or necessarily reduce the overall risk of heart attacks, however, it does protect your arteries against significant damage. Studies have shown that Vitamin C can potentially reduce the progression of atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of arteries.

In other studies, it has been shown that Vitamin C helps maintain more flexible arteries. This is what makes it less likely that you’ll experience a stroke, heart attack, or peripheral artery disease. Based on its antioxidant effects, it also helps to protect heart tissue.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is an extremely large issue which is affecting a large portion of the western population. In population-based studies, meaning large groups of people are observed at one time, Vitamin C and other antioxidants were shown to lower the risk of high blood pressure in those who followed a poor diet.

When you consume enough Vitamin C, you naturally support your health. This is especially true if you’re at risk of developing high blood pressure. When treating or preventing high blood pressure, doctors often recommend that DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) diet, which includes plenty of antioxidant and vitamin C-rich foods.

Common Cold

There’s a reason your mom wanted you to drink orange juice when you were a kid growing up, well sort of. Although it’s believed that vitamin C will help cure a common cold, research suggests otherwise. Instead, it’s recommended that you take daily vitamin C supplements to improve overall immunity and reduce the length of time you suffer from a cold.

Cancer

There has been some emerging research conducted throughout the years regarding high doses of vitamin C and cancer treatment. However, more research is needed within this area to say for sure. Many population-based studies have suggested that eating foods rich in vitamin C could potentially lower your risk of cancer, including skin cancer and possibly breast cancer.

Osteoarthritis

Since Vitamin C helps make collagen, it’s known to be a useful supplement for those who suffer from osteoarthritis. This condition destroys cartilage, increasing pressure on joints and bones. It’s also believed that free radicals may contribute to this damage, which is why vitamin C is suggested.

Antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, help to limit these damaging free radicals. There’s no direct evidence to suggest that Vitamin C will prevent or treat osteoarthritis. With that being said, the evidence does show that those who eat diets rich in vitamin C are less likely to be diagnosed.

If you are currently taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce your symptoms, you could be increasing your risk of a vitamin C deficiency. These drugs tend to lower Vitamin C levels in the body when taking osteoarthritis drugs. Speak to your doctor about taking a vitamin C supplement to compensate.

There are plenty of other benefits associated with vitamin C, although information and research is limited. It may improve vision, maintain gum health, treat allergy-related conditions, reduce the effects of sun exposure, heal burns and wounds, decrease high blood sugar, and aid in the treatment of some viral conditions.

Precautions

There are potential side effects and interactions when taking vitamin C. Since this supplement has a diuretic effect, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids while taking them to maintain hydration. Also, vitamin C increases the absorption of iron so if you suffer from a condition where iron builds up in your body, such as hemochromatosis, you should not take vitamin C supplements.

This is also the case for individuals with kidney disorders, sickle cell anemia, or those who are sensitive to corn. If this relates to you, please speak to your doctor before starting your first dose. Some of the main interactions include, but are not limited to Tylenol, antacids that contain aluminum, barbiturates, chemotherapy drugs, birth control, protease inhibitors, and tetracycline.