Vitamin C is an essential vitamin, which means it cannot be produced by your body. Nonetheless, it serves a variety of functions and has been associated with countless health benefits.
It is water soluble and may be found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, including oranges, strawberries, kiwi fruit, bell peppers, broccoli, kale, and spinach.
Vitamin C is recommended at 75 mg per day for women and 90 mg per day for males.
While it is generally recommended that you get your vitamin C from meals, many people turn to pills to satisfy their needs.
Here are 6 scientifically proven benefits of taking vitamin C supplements.
One-third of all adults in the United States have high blood pressure.
High blood pressure puts you at risk of developing heart disease, which is the leading cause of death worldwide.
Vitamin C has been found in studies to help reduce blood pressure in both with and without high blood pressure.
An animal study found that taking a vitamin C pill relaxed the blood arteries that convey blood from the heart, lowering blood pressure levels.
Furthermore, an analysis of 39 human studies found that taking a vitamin C supplement decreased systolic blood pressure (the upper value) by 3.8 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (the lower value) by 1.5 mmHg in healthy adults on average.
In people with high blood pressure, vitamin C supplements lowered systolic blood pressure by 4.9 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 1.7 mmHg on average.
While these findings are encouraging, it is unclear if the improvements on blood pressure are long term. Furthermore, patients with high blood pressure should not rely solely on vitamin C for treatment.
2. May lower your risk of heart disease
High blood pressure, high triglyceride or LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, and low HDL (good) cholesterol levels are all risk factors for heart disease.
Vitamin C may help minimize these risk factors, which may lower the risk of heart disease.
For example, a meta-analysis of 11 studies with a total of 293,514 individuals revealed that those who took at least 700 mg of vitamin C daily had a 25% reduced risk of heart disease after 10 years than those who did not take a vitamin C supplement.
Interestingly, another 15-study meta-analysis found that getting vitamin C from foods, rather than supplements, was associated with a decreased risk of heart disease.
3. Helps prevent iron deficiency
Iron is a vital nutrient for several functions in the body. It is necessary for the formation of red blood cells as well as the transportation of oxygen throughout the body.
Vitamin C supplements can help enhance iron absorption from food. Vitamin C also aids in the conversion of iron that is poorly absorbed, such as plant-based iron sources, into a more absorbable form.
This is especially beneficial for vegetarians, as meat is a good source of iron.
In fact, just 100 mg of vitamin C can boost iron absorption by 67 %.
As a result, vitamin C may help in lowering the risk of anemia in people who are prone to iron deficiency.
A vitamin C supplement was provided to 65 children with moderate iron deficiency anemia in one study. The researchers noted that the vitamin alone helped reduce their anemia.
Consuming more vitamin C-rich foods or taking a vitamin C supplement may help boost your blood iron levels if you have low iron levels.
4. May reduce your risk of chronic diseases
Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant that might help to boost your body’s natural defenses.
Antioxidants are molecules that help the immune system function properly. They do this by protecting cells from potentially damaging molecules known as free radicals.
When free radicals build up, they can cause oxidative stress, which has been related to a variety of chronic illnesses.
According to a research, increasing your vitamin C intake can boost your blood antioxidant levels by up to 30%. This helps the body’s natural defenses in fighting inflammation.
5. Boosts immunity
One of the most common reasons individuals take vitamin C supplements is to increase their immunity, as vitamin C is involved in many different aspects of the immune system.
First, vitamin C promotes the development of white blood cells known as lymphocytes and phagocytes, which help in the body’s response to infection.
Second, vitamin C improves the activity of these white blood cells while protecting them from damage caused by potentially harmful molecules such as free radicals.
Third, vitamin C is an important component of the skin’s defensive mechanism. It is actively carried to the skin, where it can work as an antioxidant and help in the strengthening of the skin’s barriers.
Taking vitamin C has also been found in studies to reduce the time it takes for wounds to heal.
Furthermore, low amounts of vitamin C have been associated to poor health implications.
People with pneumonia, for example, have reduced vitamin C levels, and vitamin C supplements have been demonstrated to shorten recovery time.
6. Protects your memory and thinking as you age
Dementia is a broad term used to refer to signs of poor thinking and memory.
It affects about 35 million people globally and is most common in older adults.
According to research, oxidative stress and inflammation surrounding the brain, spine, and nerves (together referred to as the central nervous system) might raise the risk of dementia.
Vitamin C is an excellent antioxidant. Low levels of this vitamin have been associated to cognitive and memory impairment.
Furthermore, some studies have found that people with dementia may have reduced vitamin C levels in their blood.
Furthermore, increased vitamin C consumption from food or pills has been proven to protect thinking and memory as you become older.
Unproven claims about vitamin C
While vitamin C has numerous scientifically proven benefits, it also has many unproven claims that are backed by either weak or no evidence.
Here are some unproven vitamin C claims:
Prevents the common cold: While vitamin C appears to lower the severity and duration of colds by 8% in adults and 14% in children, it does not prevent them.
Protects against eye disease: vVitamin C has been associated to a lower incidence of eye illnesses such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Vitamin C supplements, on the other hand, have no impact and may even be harmful.
May treat lead toxicity: although persons with lead toxicity tend to have low levels of vitamin C, there is no good evidence from human studies that vitamin C helps cure lead toxicity.
Reduces cancer risk: Several studies have linked vitamin C use to a decreased risk of a variety of malignancies.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that can only be got from food or supplements.
It has been associated to several impressive health benefits, including increasing antioxidant levels, decreasing blood pressure, enhancing iron absorption, boosting immunity, and lowering the risk of heart disease and dementia.
Overall, vitamin C supplements are an excellent and simple way to boost your vitamin C consumption if you are not getting enough from your food.
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