Nutrient Spotlight: Vitamin C

Concerns and desire for supporting our immunity is all around us right now. Are you looking to boost up your defenses through some good old Vitamin C?

That’s a great idea! Perhaps Vitamin C’s best known benefit is immune support and in 2020 it sure deserves this spotlight!

Let’s take a closer look:
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect our cells from damaging free radicals, that can diminish our immunity. Studies indicate that adequate intakes of vitamin C reduce symptoms and shorten the duration and severity of respiratory tract infections including the common cold.1 We also know that blood levels of vitamin C rapidly decline during times of infection and stress, along with leukocytes or white blood cells that power our immune system.2 In a review of 29 studies, mostly randomized clinical trials, Vitamin C supplementation was shown to help reduce the duration of colds in adults and children. While the data isn’t definitive, those who regularly exercise may benefit the most, and authors conclude it’s safe to try Vitamin C3.

But, did you know that Vitamin C does a lot more for us beyond immunity? In fact, Vitamin C deficiency can cause weakened bones, gingivitis, bleeding gums (scurvy still exists!), dry hair, nosebleeds, teeth loss, easy bruising, anemia, fatigue, poor wound healing, unhealthy skin, nails and hair and can even be fatal.4

Here are 4 surprising health benefits of vitamin C you may not have known about:

1. Anti-Aging & Promotion of Healthy, Glowing Skin

Consuming Vitamin C helps reduce signs of aging by boosting collagen production to promote wound healing, decreasing the appearance of wrinkles, and helping protect skin from sun damage which can cause premature aging and development of wrinkles.4,5

2. Heart Health

Vitamin C can help to lower blood pressure6, “bad” LDL cholesterol and Triglyceride levels7. Research from Europe found that the overall risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease was 60% lower when comparing the blood plasma concentration of vitamin C in the highest 20% of people to the lowest 20%.8 

3. Brain Health

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) serves several vital functions in our central nervous system, including antioxidant protection and transmitting chemical messages throughout the body effectively.9,10  Studies have found that Vitamin C supplementation may protect neurons from oxidative damage associated with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s.9

4. Iron absorption

Consuming Vitamin C improves the absorption of iron from plant-based or non-heme iron sources in the diet, like leeks, quinoa or broccoli.4  Iron is a mineral, vital for proper hemoglobin production, allowing our red blood cells to carry and distribute oxygen around our body effectively.  Iron is also required for muscle metabolism and cellular functioning.11

Sources of Vitamin C4

Foods high in vitamin C include peppers, berries, citrus fruit, spinach, kale, kiwi, tomato, cantaloupe, broccoli, dark leafy greens, papaya, mango, watermelon, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, winter squash and pineapples.

Here’s a fun fact that may surprise you… which has more Vitamin C per serving – an orange or cauliflower?  (The answer… they’re the same!)

One cup of chopped cauliflower is equal to the amount of Vitamin C in one small orange (~52 mg or 69% of your daily requirement)

 

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6124957/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16373990/
  3. https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000980.pub4/full
  4. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5579659/
  6. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/big_doses_of_vitamin_c_may_lower_blood_pressure
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2682928/
  8. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120716131325.htm
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3725125/#:~:text=Neurons%20in%20the%20central%20nervous,and%20protection%20against%20glutamate%20toxicity.
  10. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/amidation
  11. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/

 

About Stacy Kennedy

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

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