Whether we are fighting off a cold or a flu or any other infection, doctors always recommend us to take more vitamin C. The reason is that our bodies can recuperate much faster than it normally would and with less side effects when taking more vitamin C. How vitamin C works, how we benefit from it and the natural food sources of vitamin C are explained in more details in the other paragraphs of this article.
What Is Vitamin C?
As many of you may know, vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. A water-soluble vitamin is the one that dissolves in water. This type of vitamin is carried to the body’s tissues but the body doesn’t store it.
It is also a strong antioxidant which is also known as ascorbic acid. There is plentiful of vitamin C in different fruits and vegetables.
It has a significant role in the body, when it comes to maintenance and forming of connective tissues. This also refers to skin, blood vessels and bones.
How It Helps Our Body?
Many of us ask themselves why is vitamin C so important and how it really affects our bodies. What the vitamin does is helps our body with the production of the protein collagen.
Collagen is really important and is the most plenteous protein in our bodies. Almost 90% of all types of collagen found in our bodies, belong to type 1 collagen.
This protein is a constituent of many parts in the human body, such as blood vessels, ligaments, tendons, bones, skin, muscles, digestive tract etc.
Many researchers refer to this protein as the “glue” that keeps our body together. Collagen makes the skin strong and elastic. Also helps in replacing dead skin cells and in forming new, healthy connective tissue.
Vitamin C Deficiency And Overdose
Nowadays, there are rare cases of vitamin C deficiency. Low levels can lead to bleeding gums, scurvy which is a very serious illness. Symptoms of deficiency include muscle aches and weakness, fatigue, joint weakness and leg rashes.
Side effects of vitamin C overdose are rare, but can include diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramps, and other gastrointestinal symptoms. The body of a healthy individual can only hold and use 200-250 mg of vitamin C a day, and all excess is lost though urine.
Recommendations of how much vitamin C different age groups should take can be found on this link.
Benefits Of Vitamin C
Reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke
One of the most debated benefits of vitamin C is the prevention or reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke. The vitamin may indirectly reduce the risk of heart attack by protecting the arteries from damage. Some studies prove that the progression of the hardening of the arteries, otherwise known as atherosclerosis, may be correlated with the level of the vitamin in the body. Sufficient levels of the vitamin can slow down the progression of this artery disease.
Preventing high blood pressure
Doctors, and nutritionists as well, recommend consuming fruit and vegetables rich with antioxidants. A diet specifically designed for treating or preventing hypertension is the DASH diet. This diet is the best diet for 7 years in a row, according to the US News and World Report.
The ability of antioxidants to lower blood pressure lies in cleaning up the damage caused to arterial walls by the buildup of plaque and other waste materials.
Prevent and fight off the common cold
Vitamin C doesn’t cure the common cold. What actually does is reduces the duration and lessens the symptoms of the cold. Another way we benefit is by boosting our immune system. Strong immune system is important in the prevention of getting a cold in the first place.
Prevent cancer or help with cancer treatment
Taking the needed amount of vitamin C can prevent different types of cancers, by fighting free radicals. It also helps neutralize the effects of nitrates. Nitrites are preservatives which can be found in packaged foods that is proven to lead to some forms of cancer.
Researchers in one study published in Cancer Cell , explain that if cancer patients take high doses of vitamin C, cancer cells are becoming more vulnerable and it is easier to destroy during chemotherapy and radiation. Cancer cell have high levels of oxidative stress. This leads to production of free radicals which releases unstable forms of iron. When this unstable iron connects with vitamin C, cause additional damage to tumor cells.
Aid in prevention of Arthritis
Free radicals in our body can lead to damage of the cartilage, a connective tissue that connects the bones and joints. Vitamin C as an antioxidant helps in fighting free radicals. Also it promotes the production of collagen which is the main protein constituent of connective tissues.
So it helps prevent further damage of the cartilage. The damage of the cartilage put additional pressure on bones and joints, which can lead to osteoarthritis.
- Boosts the immune system
- Help with the maintenance of healthy gums (low levels of vitamin C can lead to bleeding)
- Healing wound and different burns
- Improves vision