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7 Scientific Health Benefits of Vitamin C
Everyone knows a good dose of Vitamin C every day is healthy for you. But do you know why exactly? If not, this article will take you through 7 scientifically proven ways in which Vitamin C keeps you hale and hearty!
Proven Benefits of Vitamin C
Antioxidant That Helps Stave Off Chronic Disease
Every day our body produces and takes in free radicals- harmful molecules which damage the cells in our body, through processed foods and alcohol, metabolic processes, stress, and exposure to pollution and chemicals. The accumulation of free radicals causes oxidative stress in the body, which in turn contributes to chronic lifestyle illnesses like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, stroke, and heart disease.
Antioxidants can help to reduce free radical damage. Vitamin C being rich in antioxidants helps to strengthen the body's defense mechanism i.e., its immune system by building up antioxidant reserves that protect cells and tissue from free radical damage. As a consequence, Vitamin D can help to reduce the risk of chronic disease.
Immune System Support
Another upside to Vitamin C's ability to fight free radical damage and oxidative stress is that it boosts immune system function. It protects the white blood cells responsible for fighting infections against oxidative stress.
Vitamin C helps augment the production of white blood cells like lymphocytes and phagocytes- these in turn help reduce the incidence and severity of infections. Vitamin C supplements have been illustrated to result in quicker recovery times for viral infections like the common cold. Vitamin C also protects the skin’s immune/defense system by reinforcing the skin’s barrier against pathogens. Its antimicrobial properties certainly help to build resilience and the body’s ability to withstand illness. Lower Vitamin C levels are congruent with higher infection, longer duration of recovery, and more severe presentations of diseases like pneumonia.
Improves Iron Absorption
Vitamin C augments iron absorption, thereby acting as a good deterrent against anemia and iron deficiency disorders. Vitamin C eases the body’s ability to absorb and store non-hem iron which is found in plants and not as easily integrated and broken down as heme iron found in animal sources. By enabling better absorption of iron, the iron content rises and thus bolsters oxygen absorption and transportation across the body. A higher iron content promotes the body’s healthy growth and development, by contributing to hormone production, muscle strength, and increased energy and focus. Vitamin C combined with a healthy iron content gives you double the benefit – two birds, one stone!
Higher levels of Vitamin C have been related to better cognition and brain function. The antioxidant properties of Vitamin C protect the nerves and brain cells against inflammation. It also protects the spine and spinal function from oxidative degeneration that often leads to dementia. Vitamin C also promotes neurotransmitter function, and can thus strengthen memory, thinking, and mental function as you age. Lower levels of Vitamin C or deficiencies have been linked to impaired cognition and less protection against disorders like dementia.
Vitamin C is a wonder nutrient for your skin. It prevents free radical damage to the skin caused by external factors such as pollution, sunburn, aging, poor nutrition, weather, and smoking. A diet high in Vitamin C can reduce dryness, wrinkles, and fine lines and brighten your complexion. It does so because it is the primary nutrient involved in collagen production in the body. The more collagen is synthesized, the firmer and more elastic your skin becomes. It heals wounds, scars, and slows skin aging, apart from reducing pigmentation, and dark spots and fending off acne.
Gums and Teeth
Vitamin C plays a crucial role in dental health too by strengthening the connective tissues in your gums and generating healthy blood vessels. It also reduces the severity of gum diseases like gingivitis and can help keep your teeth strongly in place. Severe deficiencies in Vitamin C can cause scurvy - the symptoms of which include bleeding gums and loss of teeth.
If you suffer from gout, this means your body produces excess uric acid. This imbalance in turn can lead to sudden, sharp attacks of pain in this form of arthritis. While the role of Vitamin C in fighting gout is yet to be proven, it has been proven to lower uric acid levels in the body which can minimize the pain of gout attacks.
Unproven Benefits of Vitamin C
Some health-giving qualities of Vitamin C haven’t been proven scientifically or there haven’t been enough case studies to establish their efficacy conclusively. However, due to its overall wholesome effect, Vitamin C may aid in alleviating some symptoms or mitigating the intensity of some diseases.
These include −
Vitamin C cannot prevent eye diseases like cataracts or macular degeneration. But it may help to delay the onset or slow down the advancement of these eye disorders by tackling oxidative stress which can cause a rapid progression.
There is absolutely no evidence that Vitamin C reduces the risk of developing cancer or making cancer treatment more effective. In fact, some studies claim that Vitamin C may actually hinder chemotherapy due to interactions. As a crucial component of a balanced diet, Vitamin C may give your body added strength and resilience to withstand the fatigue of cancer treatments. A diet rich in Vitamin C also provides antioxidants that can minimize tissue/cell/organ damage. To this extent, it may be a protective factor against cancer or provide better treatment outcomes compared to people whose diet is Vitamin-C deficient.
Vitamin C doesn’t prevent the common cold which is a viral infection. But it does boost immunity to fight off the effects of the virus.
Vitamin C is cannot be used to treat lead intoxication, although ascorbic acid may stop the cellular uptake of lead to prevent further toxicity.
It is always best to get your daily Vitamin C requirements from natural sources like citrus fruits and vegetables. If you opt for supplements, stick to prescribed amounts.
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