Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in the development and maintenance of connective tissues in our body. It also helps in fighting off allergies and infections. It does so by protecting the immune system from potential damage by external toxins.
Benefits of Vitamin C
- Fights Common Cold: Results of a 5-year clinical trial, which were published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, indicate that Vitamin C supplementation significantly decreases the frequency of contracting common cold.
- Prevents Scurvy: A deficiency of the vitamin can lead to scurvy as the body is unable to synthesize enough collagen or connective tissues to keep our organs together. Fatigue, weakness of muscles, and skin ulcers are some symptoms of scurvy.
- Improves Cardiovascular Health: Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can prevent heart conditions like heart attack, peripheral artery disease and stroke. According to a study presented at the 14th International Conference of the American Physiological Study, a daily dose of the vitamin can have a similar effect on heart health as walking. It is also considered as an effective supplement for stiff arteries.
- Promotes Mental Health: Vitamin C can help in regulating the levels of cortisol in our body. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone that is released by the body during periods of stress. While the body needs a certain amount of cortisol, a shortage or an excess of cortisol is unhealthy. A deficiency of vitamin C also decreases the production of depression-fighting chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. This was found in a 2013 study, published in the Journal of Neurochemistry. It is also considered among the top 3 brain boosters.
- Prevents Eye Disorders: Vitamin C reduces the risk of cataracts as our eye lenses need the micronutrient to keep at bay the free radicals that are formed due to overexposure to sunlight. According to a 10-year study by King’s College London, patients with a high intake of this vitamin had reduced risk of cataract progression. Likewise, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, long-term consumption of vitamin C supplements can substantially reduce age-related lens opacities.
- Helps in Diabetes Management: Vitamin C lowers the risk of diabetes. It also helps in stopping diabetes-induced damage to the blood vessels. Also, the cortisol-stabilizing properties of this vitamin help in reducing depression and stress, which is common in diabetics.
- Helps in Managing Andropause: During andropause or male menopause, there’s a gradual decline in semen quality. As per a 2012 study published in Journal of Medicinal Food, oral supplementation of vitamin C (1000 mg, twice per day for 2 months) resulted in improved semen quality.
It must be noted that the human body cannot make Vitamin C on its own, so it can be consumed only via diet and supplements. Some of the best sources of Vitamin C are fruits such as kiwi, mango, citrus fruits like oranges, grapes, and vegetables such as tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, potatoes, cabbage, leafy vegetables etc.
The current recommendation for daily intake of Vitamin C is 90 mg/d for men and 75 mg/d for women. Higher doses may be needed for people who smoke regularly or who are suffering from diabetes or cancer.
Vitamin C in Disease Prevention and Cure: An Overview
Vitamin C1, Jens Lykkesfeldt, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, Alexander J. Michels and Balz Frei
The American Physiological Society
Vitamin C, Unidad de Dermatología, Hospital da Costa, Rafael Vior s/n, 27880 Burela, Lugo, Spain
Effect of vitamin C on common cold: randomized controlled trial
Behavioral and monoamine changes following severe vitamin C deficiency
Vitamin C intake may help reduce the chance of cataracts
Long-term vitamin C supplement use and prevalence of early age-related lens opacities.