All vitamins and minerals are vital for the normal functioning of the body, but only a few stand out as much as vitamin C.
The vitamin has a multitude of benefits, and its deficiency can be detrimental to your health.
Vitamin C has a reputation as an antioxidant, but it is also critical in the functioning of immune cells.
This is the reason there are so many ascorbic acid supplements available.
You might never know why you need vitamin C until you learn its benefits and what it can do in your body.
Read on for more.
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C, also referred to as ascorbate, or L-ascorbic acid, has the properties of a weak sugar acid.
The nutrient has a structure similar to that of glucose.
Historically, Vitamin C has been used in the prevention and treatment of scurvy, which is a disease resulting from vitamin C deficiency .
When most people think of ascorbic acid, the first thing that comes to mind is orange juice, as this is the best way to get your daily dose.
Citrus fruits, such as limes, lemons, and oranges, are rich sources of this vitamin.
While the whole-food version is better, as it has fiber, the juice and supplement form also has many benefits to offer.
Most of the benefits of Vitamin C are associated with its antioxidant effects.
It plays a number of roles in all the systems of your body. As an antioxidant, the vitamin acts as a scavenger of destructive molecules such as ‘reactive oxygen species’, ROS.
These free ROS molecules appear as byproducts of metabolic processes.
ROS molecules increase during strenuous exercise or long periods of stress.
By fighting these molecules, Vitamin C is able to offer a wide range of health benefits.
ROS molecules, commonly referred to as free molecules, are highly reactive and they bind to almost any other molecule and part of your body including proteins and membranes.
These free molecules are normal byproducts in metabolic processes, but when allowed to accumulate in your body, they are damaging to cells, which necessitates the need for antioxidants.
By supplementing with vitamin C, you can neutralize these molecules, keeping them at a healthy level. Vitamin C is available as L-ascorbic acid in most supplements.
When ingested, L-ascorbic acid is converted to ascorbate in acidic environments such as your stomach.
Other forms of Vitamin C include:
- Sodium ascorbate
- Calcium ascorbate
- Magnesium ascorbate
- Potassium ascorbate
- Manganese ascorbate
- Zinc ascorbate
- Molybdenum ascorbate
- Chromium ascorbate
Sodium and calcium ascorbate are the only forms that occur without being combined with other minerals.
Other forms might appear in other mineral combinations.
Vitamin C Deficiency
Inadequate vitamin C manifests in different ways in your body.
The symptoms might not be bothersome, but long-term low levels of Vitamin C are harmful to your health, and need to be seen as a priority.
In severe cases, ascorbic acid deficiency will result in scurvy, a condition that results from the breakdown of collagen .
With scurvy, you will feel lethargic and fatigued.
The condition affects your muscles and your bones, and it also attacks your immune system.
Today, cases of scurvy are very rare.
You only need a very small quantity of vitamin C to prevent it.
In the 18th century, citrus was used to prevent the scurvy that affected about 2 million sailors.
Short periods of inadequate vitamin C will result in less noticeable signs and symptoms, which are also serious.
Such signs include:
- Swollen gums
- Easy bruising
- Bleeding gums
- Slow wound healing
- Drying and splitting of hair
- Reddening of the skin
- Roughening, drying, and scaly appearance of the skin
- Nose bleeding
- Weak immune system
- Digestive disorders such as leaky gut
- Autoimmune diseases
- Weight gain thanks to slow metabolism
- Pain in the joints
Over time, health problems linked to ascorbic acid deficiency can get worse.
When not corrected, the conditions can lead to chronic diseases.
Some potential long term health problems include:
- High blood pressure
- Gallbladder diseases
Most of the signs and symptoms of ascorbic-acid deficiency clear within a few days after you have taken an L-ascorbic supplement, or you have eaten foods with vitamin C.
Unfortunately, vitamin C is lost through cooking, and you might need a supplement to keep its levels up.
You can get the most out of the food you eat. However, you need to eat real and raw fruits and veggies.
Eat your fruits immediately after you cut them.
Instead of boiling vegetables, steam them to retain the highest amount of vitamin C.
Eating organic foods offers you the best source of vitamin C.
While supplements supply you with the needed amount of vitamin C fast and reliably, concentrating on natural sources of vitamin C will offer you all you need.
Health Benefits of Vitamin C
Helps Recover After Surgery
The level of vitamin C in the blood goes down after a surgery.
In patients under surgical intensive care, the level falls even lower; the deficiency can harm your health in different ways.
This is due to the demand that comes with oxidative stress after surgery.
With the decline in ascorbic acid, the level of free radicals in the body might increase, which is not good for the convalescent.
In a simple gastrointestinal surgery, supplementing vitamin C was shown to reduce the high levels of post-surgery stress .
Vitamin C supplementation can also be used to reduce post-surgery atrial fibrillation, i.e. abnormal heart rhythm, after cardiac surgery.
Ascorbic acid does this by reducing the level of oxidative stress through fighting ROS molecules, which are by-products of metabolism .
Even for those who have enough blood, vitamin C levels might need supplementation after surgery as levels will decrease significantly.
After you have been deprived of Vitamin C for a long time, you might become emotionally unstable and nervous.
This is a result of a hormone imbalance that results from the deficiency.
It can also be caused by symptoms of inadequate vitamin C, which might affect your appearance and your confidence .
Vitamin C has been shown to increase the amount of oxytocin the body releases .
This has a positive impact on your mood and your emotions.
Generally, oxytocin will even out different hormones in your body and will also reduce cortisol levels.
Studies have shown that with vitamin C supplementation, there is a 35 percent decline in mood disturbances among patients in a hospital .
This means that when levels of ascorbic acid in the body are right, you will have a good mood.
When your levels of vitamin C decrease, you might need to supplement to curb emotional disturbance.
Even with its great effects on mood, vitamin C has little to no effect on psychological performance, personality, or state of mind for men between 17 and 29 years of age, unless the supplementation has been used to correct an existing deficiency.
Keeps Anxiety Low
Vitamin C reduces anxiety by balancing out the hormones in your body.
The study also revealed that only a small amount of vitamin C is needed to get rid of anxiety.
The body does not store vitamin C and, therefore, it is needed in low amounts supplied consistently.
In a different study, vitamin C supplementation was used to lower anxiety levels in diabetes patients.
By monitoring the levels of ascorbic acid in the diabetics’ blood, doctors were able to administer the right amount of ascorbic acid to ease anxiety.
After administration, vitamin C takes effect almost immediately .
Enhances Brain Health
The brain needs vitamin C more than other parts of the body.
In fact, during severe cases of vitamin C deprivation, the brain stores vitamin C to limit its use by other tissues in the body.
In such instances, the brain will have up to 100-fold, compared to other organs such as the liver and the kidney .
Vitamin C benefits to the brain are many.
One of its many functions is fighting free radicals, or reactive oxygen species scavenging.
It is also important in neuromodulation, and in the development of blood vessels .
And ascorbic acid is involved in the modulation of neurotransmitter systems in your brain.
These systems include the glutamergic, cholignergic, and catecholinergic.
This means it is involved in the nerve transmission, and in the responsiveness of your sensory organs.
It also plays a key role in the development of nerve cells.
It is involved in their formation, maturation, differentiation, and in the formation of the myelin sheath .
The integrity and functioning of different processes in the vascular system rely on vitamin C.
This, in turn, helps the brain to function better.
Not only is vitamin C involved in the formation and maturation of neurons, but it also plays a vital role in transmitting nerve impulses through the nervous system via neurotransmitters.
By supplementing with vitamin C, you are able to stop neural damage.
Supplemented vitamin C induces brain-derived-neurotrophic-factor, BDNF, to express itself and initiate a defense mechanism of the brain .
One of the main short-term symptoms of inadequate vitamin C is fatigue.
You can clear the feeling within a few hours by taking vitamin C supplementation or eating food rich in vitamin C.
According to studies, high doses of intravenous ascorbic acid reduces fatigue in office workers .
While the study looked at intravenous administration only, ensuring that the level of blood ascorbate is at its optimal level will ensure you never get fatigued.
If you need to reduce fatigue immediately, intravenous administration is useful.
Supplements, in the form of pills or powder, will also offer you fast results.
Vitamin C from food will be absorbed slowly, and the fatigue will take a longer time to clear.
The effect of vitamin C on fatigue was also tested on rats.
It was shown that administering ascorbic acid supplements slows fatigue in rats .
Improves Thyroid Activity
Vitamin C has been used to improve thyroid activity and enhance metabolism.
Trials on rats showed that low doses of vitamin C supplement stimulated thyroid activity, but high doses inhibited it .
The hormones produced by the thyroid gland are involved in regulating vital processes in the body including breathing, the central and peripheral nervous system, muscle strength, body weight, menstrual cycle, cholesterol levels, body temperature, and heart rate, among others.
Vitamin C ensures the thyroid glands are functioning optimally, and this affects the entire body.
When the thyroid glands are not functioning as they should, the patient develops hyper- or hypothyroidism, which interferes with different metabolic processes.
Improves Blood Flow
When blood flow has been impaired by reactive oxygen species, ROS, high doses of vitamin C can restore it.
This preserves the integrity of the blood vessel barrier, while strengthening antibacterial defenses .
Vitamin C also plays an important role in preventing the dysfunction of blood vessels, initiating the synthesis of collagen, proliferation of cells and of blood vessel cells.
Vitamin C is also important in reversing the early stages of arterial hardening.
This protects you from heart diseases such as high blood pressure that comes with hardened arteries.
When blood flow is enhanced, body tissues can receive the nutrients and oxygen they need for optimal functioning.
Inadequate vitamin C results in decreased blood vessel integrity.
When NOS generation decreases, synthesis of collagen is inhibited.
This results in formation of plaque, which increases the risk of stroke .
By enhancing the performance of the blood vessels and the heart, vitamin C is able to stop a wide range of heart diseases.
Dementia results from cognitive decline in old age.
When you are exposed to long periods of vitamin C deprivation, there is a high risk of neurodegenerative disorder, which might cause cognitive decline .
By supplementing vitamin C for seniors, studies have shown reduced cognitive decline and better mental function .
Vitamin C levels in seniors with dementia were shown to be relatively low, and so this is assumed to be one of the causes of memory loss.
Studies done on mice showed that three days of vitamin C administration improved learning and memory .
By maintaining an optimal level of vitamin C, therefore, learning capacity and memory retention are enhanced.
The same vitamin C supplementation has been used to counteract the memory loss that results from sleep deprivation in rodents.
Vitamin C supplementation has also been used in animals to improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s syndrome.
In humans, too, supplementing vitamin C has been shown to reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.
This is a condition mostly associated with seniors.
As we age, our cognitive function becomes impaired thanks to reduced signal transduction.
This issue is also caused by the deposition of amyloid beta, which results from generation of ROS.
These factors increase the risk of Alzheimer’s syndrome.
Prevents Oxidative Stress in Lungs
The concentration of Vitamin C is 30 times higher in the lungs than in the blood.
This demonstrates the importance of vitamin C in the lungs, compared to other parts of the body.
In the lungs, even a small dose of vitamin C protects from oxidative stress.
As the lungs are among the most important organs in the body, they need to perform optimally at all times .
The lungs need a lot of energy, which increases the metabolic rate.
With increased metabolism, the lungs produce a high amount of reactive oxygen species, ROS.
When left unattended, high ROS levels can interfere with lung function.
By breaking down the free radicals, vitamin C enhances lung performance.
Protects from Various Diseases
A major benefit of vitamin C is to protect you from infections.
Inadequate vitamin C levels are mostly caused by an infection.
Ascorbic acid improves the functioning of most types of white blood cells, and also reduces the replication of micro-organisms .
Vitamin C has also been shown to reduce the duration and even the severity of the common cold.
Besides the common cold, the vitamin keeps you protected from other minor illnesses.
When you are experiencing extreme physical stress, vitamin C reduces instances of the cold , and thus is able to stop the pneumonia and other diseases that are associated with it.
In male swimmers, ascorbic acid has been shown to decrease the severity of respiratory infections.
However, the same effects were not observed in females .
It was also observed that supplementing vitamin C eradicates up to 30 percent of H. Pylori infections.
By enhancing white blood cell activity, vitamin C is able to eradicate a wide variety of common illnesses, which is advantageous to patients.
Those who have an optimal amount of vitamin C in the blood will see reduced incidence of infection, while those with simple illnesses can supplement with vitamin C to decrease their recovery time.
The effect of Vitamin C on mood and depressive disorders has been widely studied, and is impressive.
It has been shown that it combats depressive disorder in both children and adults.
While ascorbic acid does not cure depression, studies have shown that it significantly decreases its severity.
It was also observed that mice deficient in vitamin C are less active.
Injecting these mice with vitamin C supplement increases their activity.
In older people, inadequate vitamin C levels are associated with increased signs and symptoms of depression.
This is especially true following an illness.
With adequate levels of vitamin C, the body is able to convert the neurotransmitter dopamine to norepinephrine.
This hormone is important in alleviating mood swings and depression.
This explains why those with low blood levels of vitamin C show signs of depression .
When you are depressed and using antidepressants, vitamin C increases their effectiveness.
After being treated for about six months with vitamin C supplements and fluoxetine, the antidepressant shows a greater effect on depressive symptoms.
This is in comparison to a fluoxetine plus placebo group, or fluoxetine plus any other supplement other than vitamin C .
Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Vitamin C has demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties.
It reduces inflammation by simply lowering inflammatory cytokines.
This makes it ideal for patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity .
It has also been used to reduce inflammation in cancer patients.
By reducing inflammation, vitamin C is able to control a number of illnesses such as gingivitis, which is the inflammation of the gums, and also reduce skin inflammation problems.
By reducing inflammation in obese people, ascorbic acid is able to stop a large number of obesity-related inflammatory diseases.
Vitamin C is effective in reducing oxidative stress and inflammatory response to IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease).
It does this by reducing inflammatory cytokines and malonaldehyde activity.
Lowers Histamine Levels
Histamine is the hormone you produce when you are having an allergic reaction.
It is the one that induces the need to scratch, and it can be truly bothersome.
For some people, high levels of this hormone do not affect them much.
However, those with histamine intolerance will want to take an antihistamine to relieve the itch.
When the level of ascorbate in blood is reduced, the levels of histamine increase .
With this increase, you will likely experience irritation, and the need to scratch your skin.
Oral or intravenous administration of ascorbic acid results in a decrease in the amount of histamine in the blood .
If you have a histamine intolerance, therefore, you should consider supplementing with vitamin C. It works just as well as an antihistamine.
Keeps Gut Safe
Vitamin C is important in keeping your gut safe.
This is especially important when you suffer aspirin intolerance, or you cannot tolerate non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory medications.
Most medications have to go through the gut.
In cases where the gut cannot tolerate certain medications, you are likely going to have problems taking drugs orally.
Since you cannot always take medicine intravenously, you will need to supplement with vitamin C to increase your drug tolerance.
This comes in handy for people with chronic diseases who have to take a variety of medications.
Vitamin C has also been used to save mice from gut damage, which was induced through irradiation.
Though the damage is lethal, vitamin C administration has been able to reduce it significantly .
Initiates Mitochondrial Function
The mitochondria are important organelles in the cell as they are the sites for respiration.
This is the process that provides all the body tissues with energy to function.
Each cell in your body has mitochondria, some more than others.
Vitamin C is involved in the stimulation of mitochondrial function.
After the respiration process, the mitochondria release by-products that might be harmful to the body.
Vitamin C enhances the function of these organelles by reducing ROS generation and stimulating the activities of manganese superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase.
It also modifies the activity of the electron transport chain .
In addition to enhancing their function, ascorbic acid protects the mitochondrial membrane and the DNA from oxidative damage, keeping them functional for longer.
Crucial in Recovery after Working Out
Vitamin C decreases oxidative stress in the body’s cells, and enhances physical performance.
However, its effects on physical performance are seen only in those with an already-low blood vitamin C level .
When vitamin C is taken after exercise, it reduces the levels of free radicals in your body, thereby attenuating any oxidative stress.
Vitamin C reduces exercise-induced muscle damage, fatigue, and immune dysfunction, keeping you feeling fresh after a period of strenuous working out.
However, it is imperative to note that it is not recommended to take high doses of vitamin C during training.
Reactive oxygen species, ROS, can actually prevent the advantages of vitamin C from occurring .
Helps Lose Weight
When you are obese, or just overweight, you are advised to eat a lot of vegetables and fruits.
These will supply you with enough vitamin C, and also help you cut your caloric intake.
Vitamin C is especially important in weight loss.
In a study it was shown that individuals with an adequate amount of vitamin C were able to burn 30 percent more fat, compared to individuals with low levels of vitamin C, after moderate exercise.
Vitamin C reduces the accumulation of fat in adipose cells.
This means that, with ascorbic acid supplementation, you will witness reduced body weight and mass as your number of fat cells will have reduced significantly.
This conclusion was arrived at after some research on rats and guinea pigs .
Research has also been carried out on rats, showing that after eight weeks of vitamin C supplementation in a cafeteria, ascorbic acid was able to reduce the incidence of diet-induced fat storage, and also excess leptin .
With low levels of vitamin C, you are likely to have a high waist-to-hip ratio.
Vitamin C has been linked to lower obesity prevalence and weight gain prevention.
Reduces Blood Glucose in Diabetics
By administering vitamin C, you can improve your blood glucose.
You can also improve non-oxidative glucose metabolism .
In a study carried out on rats, vitamin C supplementation was able to reduce glucose and insulin levels when the rat was fed on a high-fat diet for about two weeks.
Rats fed on fat alone showed increased blood glucose and insulin levels.
This makes vitamin C an ideal supplement for diabetics, and for those who need to control their blood glucose.
By controlling blood sugar, ascorbic acid prevents diabetic blindness, increases high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and enhances the functioning of blood vessels.
When you have type 2 diabetes, vitamin C can be used to lower your blood sugar significantly.
This treatment calls for a physician checking your blood vitamin C level and supplementing either intravenously or orally.
Vitamin C levels out the amount of cortisol, a hormone that increases blood sugar, in your blood.
This further reduces your blood glucose level.
Boosts Production of Collagen
Vitamin C stabilizes the production of collagen in your body.
This is important in developing the connective tissue framework of your body, including your skin, bone, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and blood vessels.
Generally, this improves the function of your entire body while enhancing your skin .
Collagen production depends on vitamin C, from the initial to the final steps. In the final steps, vitamin C acts as an electron donor in the hydroxylation of prolyl and lysyl residues, which form procollagen.
With vitamin C supplementation, the production of collagen is made faster and more efficient.
This means if you have inadequate vitamin C, you will have disrupted collagen maturation.
With less collagen, the integrity of blood vessel walls might degrade, causing hemorrhage and cerebral bleeding .
If you need to improve your body functioning, therefore, you can maintain an optimal blood vitamin C level and supplement when it is low.
Prevents Cancer Growth
When you supplement with vitamin C in high doses, you might prevent cancer from ever developing .
When you administer high doses of vitamin C, the amount is toxic to cancerous cells, including those of pancreatic, mesothelioma and leukemia.
Supplementing vitamin C is a good first step, therefore, in curbing the effects of cancer on your body.
High vitamin C doses have also been seen to suppress tumor growth in animals .
The same effect has been observed on gastric cancer when a high dose of ascorbic acid is administered.
Most cancers, irrespective of the location, have been reduced by a high dose of vitamin C.
In women over 65 years of age, eating a diet rich in vitamin C increases the chances of survival after a breast cancer surgery.
This has been associated with a reduction in ROS, or free radicals .
In men, the risks of developing cancer increase when the levels of vitamin C in their blood decrease.
This means that for a man to stay free of cancer, he needs to ensure that his blood vitamin C levels are optimal at all times, possibly through supplementation.
Vitamin C, in addition to the prevention of cancer, reduces pain and toxicity of a number of anticancer agents. It does this by fighting oxidative stress.
By supplementing vitamin C intravenously, cancer patients are able to alleviate a number of chemotherapy-related symptoms including insomnia, fatigue, nausea, pain, and loss of appetite.
Supplements also reduce pain in radiotherapy patients by up to 55 percent.
This is beneficial to patients suffering from bone cancer .
Generally, adequate levels of vitamin C in the blood improve the life of cancer patients by ensuring that they are free of pain and do not necessarily have to use painkillers during and after chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Important in Bone Development
For normal bone development, you need to take adequate amounts of vitamin C.
This is especially important for growing children whose bones are rapidly developing.
There is a relationship between bone health and the level of vitamin C in your body.
This indicated by bone mineral density, bone turnover markers, and fracture probability .
When an animal is deficient in vitamin C, it will show impaired bone health with decreased bone formation.
However, supplementing with vitamin C is able to prevent bone loss in different animals.
Those who have low blood vitamin C will likely experience bone fracture as bone cell differentiation will have been inhibited.
Deficiency also promotes the conversion of bone cells into fat cells, as observed in mice .
By taking daily vitamin C and calcium supplements, and including estrogen replacement therapy, postmenopausal women are able to increase their bone mass.
This has also been observed in different animals and various age groups in humans.
With a high vitamin C dose, you can lower the risk of osteoporosis, especially in seniors and children who are at a high risk of developing the condition.
Vitamin C also stabilizes collagen in your bone matrix and scavenges for reactive oxidative species, which damage your health and cause different conditions .
When you have an inadequate blood supply to the brain, a condition referred to as ischemia, the level of vitamin C concentrations increase.
This shows that vitamin C is important when the level of blood in the brain is low.
A study done on rodents and primates showed that vitamin C stepped in to relieve the part of the brain that had been deprived of blood during stroke .
High vitamin C levels are associated with a lower risk of developing stroke.
If you have symptoms such as fainting, or your chances of developing stroke are high, ensure that you have adequate levels of vitamin C at all times.
Helps to Quit Smoking
Vitamin C is beneficial to those who smoke every day.
By smoking, the levels of cellular and blood Vitamin C and vitamin E decrease.
When you supplement about 500 mg of vitamin C twice a day for two weeks, you can normalize the amount of vitamin E in your blood and cells.
This means you do not need to supplement vitamin E if you can maintain a high amount of vitamin C in your blood.
This prevents other conditions, such as infertility, caused by vitamin E deficiency .
Increases Sex Drive
Vitamin C has been shown to improve mood in humans, and also fight depression.
Mood swings, anxiety, stress, and depression are sex busters.
When all these are addressed, people are more likely to enjoy sex.
This has been shown in research conducted on 42 healthy adults.
After a high dose of vitamin C, people experienced improved mood and were able to have intercourse more frequently .
Fights Sea Sickness
Sea sickness is common in those who venture out into the sea for the first time.
One of the potential causes of sea sickness is histamine.
When you are exposed to waves in the sea, you will show increased levels.
This histamine will make you uncomfortable, and increase chances of skin irritation.
By supplementing with vitamin C, you can suppress the symptoms of sea sickness, especially in young individuals .
If you have adequate blood vitamin C levels, you might not even experience sea sickness at all.
Fights Toxins in Your Body
By enhancing the function of white blood cells and generally improving your immunity, vitamin C is able to remove toxins from the body.
In a study conducted on humans, vitamin C showed a great ability to reduce persistent organic pollutants (PODs) in the human body .
According to the study mentioned above, vitamin C relies on its antioxidant properties to fight toxins in the body.
The study observes that when pollutants remain in the human body for long periods, they can cause chronic side effects.
Enhances the Quality of Sperm
After valicocelectomy, the quality of sperm deteriorates, and this affects fertility in men.
The rate of fertility decreases by up to 70 percent.
Vitamin C acts as a seminal antioxidant, relieving the reproductive system of any harmful free radicals.
Ascorbic acid’s benefits in spermatogenesis have been studied widely.
According to a study conducted on 115 men, vitamin C supplementation improved sperm count, motility, and morphology.
Vitamin C levels can be used to predict sperm motility and morphology in men.
A high dose of vitamin C can be used in the treatment of men for infertility .
Maintains Skin Health
When you need healthy skin, vitamin C will help you maintain it.
When applied on the skin, vitamin C is highly effective as a rejuvenation therapy, as it induces significant collagen synthesis and does not cause any side effects.
When applied topically, vitamin C corrects physical changes that come with age.
These include wrinkles and sagging skin, among others .
Again, the anti-inflammatory property of vitamin C is evident even when it is applied topically to your skin.
It has been used in short-term treatment of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and melisma treatments.
Helps Pregnant Mothers and Newborns
If you have high vitamin C levels during pregnancy, you will likely give birth to a baby that weighs more than a mother would who has had low levels of vitamin C .
During the development of a baby, the density and maturation of neurons is affected by low levels of vitamin C.
This leads to decreased brain volume. A study conducted on mice shows that low levels of vitamin C reduced the chances of survival in newborn mice.
Again, the absence of vitamin C around the period of birth caused a reduction in hippocampal volume and in neuron number.
It also caused a decrease in spatial cognition, as a study on guinea pigs shows .
Balances Reproductive Hormones
Vitamin C is linked to high progesterone and FSH levels in premenopausal women.
According to a study conducted on 259 women, it was observed that vitamin C acts as a serum antioxidant, removing the toxins and free radicals that interfere with the production and release of hormones in the body.
After adjustment of oxidative stress, vitamin C is able to impact the process of steroidogenesis and enhance the production of endogenous hormones .
Makes Nutrients More Bioavailable
Vitamin C makes other nutrients more bioavailable. It is involved in the bioavailability of vitamin E, non-heme iron, and a variety of other nutrients.
This improves the health effects of foods containing vitamin C.
Vitamin C also modulates the biological activities of tea polyphenols and quercetin.
These physiological interactions enhance the overall health of the food containing these nutrients .
Lowers Cortisol Level
In adequate amounts, vitamin C inhibits the production of cortisol .
Cortisol is the stress hormone.
When you release this hormone, it interferes with different processes in your body, including metabolism.
By lowering cortisol, you stay free of stress and you enhance the performance of different body processes.
With a vitamin C supplement, you lower your stress response significantly.
Vitamin C as a Co-Factor
Because of its structure, vitamin C acts a co-factor in a large number of important enzyme reactions.
Some of the reactions include those that lead to formation of carnitine, cholesterol, norepinephrine, and amino acids, among other peptide hormones .
In doing this, vitamin C enhances metabolism and ensures that different processes in the body are performed optimally.
Its structure is also similar to that of glucose.
It replaces glucose in many chemical reactions, and can also stop the non-enzymatic proteins’ glycosylation .
As mentioned earlier, most of the benefits of ascorbic acid come from the fact that it has antioxidant properties.
It is able to neutralize nitrogen- and oxygen-based radicals.
It is also involved in the recycling of vitamin E and tetrahydrobiopterin, BH4.
These two substances are key in neutralizing free radicals, and in enzyme functions .
By acting as an antioxidant in all parts of the body, vitamin C is able to reduce damage to body tissues and support the performance of different body organs.
Best Vitamin C Foods
The richest sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits and green vegetables.
Actually, most sweet fruits have adequate amount of vitamin C for your body.
When you eat natural and raw fruits, you get enough vitamin C, and you do not need supplements.
Ascorbic acid is a water-soluble vitamin and, as such, it is destroyed during cooking.
Keep away from processed fruit juice as it has added sweeteners which may not be healthy. Some of the most common sources include:
- Rose Hips
- Green Chili
- Yellow Bell Pepper
- Red Bell Pepper
- Brussels Sprouts
- Mustard Greens
- Lemon and Lime
- Chinese Cabbage
When you cannot get enough ascorbic acid from food, choose L-ascorbic supplements to get you the needed dose fast and effectively.
Vitamin C is needed in the body in high quantities.
It is not stored, and the excess is removed through urine. You need a consistent daily supply.
Vitamin C Risks
Vitamin C is safe for majority of people, but only when taken orally and in the recommended dosage, when injected into muscles or into veins, or when applied on the skin.
In some people, mild vitamin C side effects are experienced, including:
The risks of developing these side effects increase with the amount of vitamin C you administer.
Any amount higher than 2000 mg per day will likely cause a number of side effects; some are severe, such as diarrhea and kidney stones.
Again, taking amounts higher than 1000 mg will increase the chances of kidney stone occurrence.
In pregnant and breastfeeding women, vitamin C should be taken orally or intravenously.
This group should not take more than 1800 mg per day.
Taking excess vitamin C during pregnancy might affect the fetus and cause problems to the newborn.
There are situations that call for a limited amount of vitamin C. These include:
- Blood iron disorders
- Angioplasty (heart procedure)
- Kidney stones
- Heart attack
- Glucose deficiency
- Sickle cell disease
If you have any of the above conditions, keep your vitamin C intake low unless your doctor says otherwise.
Vitamin C administration in children should also be kept low.
Vitamin C Dosing
You need to get the dosage right to avoid vitamin C side effects.
Daily recommended dietary allowances are:
- 0 to 12 months – human milk vitamin C content – 30-35 mg
- Children 1 – 3 years: 15 mg
- Children 4 to 8 years: 25 mg
- Children 9 to 13 years: 45 mg
- Adolescents 14 to 18 years: 75 mg for boys, 65 mg for girls;
- Adults aged 19 and older: 90 mg for men, 75 mg for women;
Pregnancy and Lactation
- Age 18 or younger: 115 mg
- Age 19 to 50 years: 120 mg.
People who use tobacco: Take an additional 35 mg per day
For children aged between 1 and 3 years, do not administer more than 400 mg per day, no more than 650 mg for ages 4 to 8, and no more than 1200 mg for children between 9 and 13 years.
Adolescents, pregnant, and breastfeeding women should limit their daily intake to 1800 mg.
The highest amount one can take should be 2000 mg.
When applied to the skin, vitamin C reduces wrinkles and other signs of aging.
It can be applied daily without side effects.
Creams with up to 10 percent vitamin C are safe for the skin.
You should, however, avoid applying vitamin C to the eye and the eyelids.
Ensure that creams do not come into contact with hair or clothes, as this can cause discoloration.
Vitamin C Interactions
Vitamin C interacts differently with different medications.
First, it reacts with the aluminum found in most antacids, increasing the amount of aluminum your body absorbs.
Ascorbic acid slows the breakdown of estrogens in the body, and decreases fluphenazine’s effectiveness.
Vitamin C reduces the effectiveness of the following medications:
- Medications used for HIV/AIDS
- Statins (medications used to lower cholesterol levels)
- Niancin (supplements for increasing good cholesterol)
- Warfarin (medication used to slow blood clotting)
Excess Ascorbic acid can limit the effectiveness with which the body gets rid of:
- Choline magnesium
All of these are substances that the body breaks down to eliminate.
When vitamin C is taken in high amounts, it decreases the rate at which these substances are broken down.
What does vitamin C do? It becomes part of the chemical reactions, thereby slowing them significantly and affecting the rate of elimination.
Before taking supplements to increase the levels of vitamin C in your blood, consult your doctor.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.
HOW WOULD YOU RATE THIS ARTICLE?