Vitamin C Benefits what can vitamin C do for your wellbeing?
Vitamin C is one of the safest and best nutrients, specialists say. It might not be the cure for the common cold (even though it’s thought to help prevent more serious complications). However, the benefits of vitamin C may include protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling.
A recent study published in Seminars in Preventive and Alternative Medicine that looked at over 100 studies over 10 years revealed a growing list of benefits of vitamin C.
“Vitamin C has obtained a great deal of attention, and with good reason. Higher blood levels of vitamin C might be the ideal nutrition marker for overall health,” says study researcher Mark Moyad, MD, MPH, of the University of Michigan. “The more we study vitamin C, the greater our understanding of how diverse it’s in protecting our health, from cardiovascular, cancer, stroke, eye health [and] immunity to living longer.”
“However,” Moyad notes, “the ideal dosage might be higher than the recommended dietary allowance.”
How Much Is Vitamin C Sufficient?
The majority of the studies Moyad and his colleagues analyzed used 500 daily mg of vitamin C to achieve health results. That’s much higher than the RDA of 75-90 mg a day for adults. So unless you can eat loads of fruits and vegetables, you may have to take a dietary supplement of vitamin C to gain all of the advantages, Moyad says. He suggests taking 500 milligrams per day, besides eating five servings of fruits and vegetables.
“It is just not practical for most people to consume the necessary portions of fruits and vegetables needed on a constant basis, whereas choosing a once-daily supplement is safe, effective, and easy to do,” Moyad states. He also notes that only 10% to 20% of adults get the recommended nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
Moyad says there isn’t any real downside to taking a 500-milligram supplement, except that some types may irritate the stomach. That’s why he recommends taking a non-acidic, buffered form of the vitamin. “The safe upper limit for vitamin C is 2,000 milligrams daily, and there’s an excellent track record with strong evidence that taking 500 milligrams daily is safe,” he says.
However, American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Dee Sandquist, RD, suggests doing your best to work more fruits and vegetables into your diet before taking supplements.
“Attempt to eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day, since you will get a healthy dose of vitamin C along with an abundance of other vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that are good for disease prevention and general health,” she says.
While a cup of orange juice or a half-cup of red pepper will be enough to meet your RDA for Vitamin C, here are all the foods and beverages you would need to eat to reach 500 milligrams (mg):
Cantaloupe, 1 cup (8 oz): 59mg
Orange juice, 1 cup: 97mg
Broccoli, cooked, 1 cup: 74mg
Red cabbage, 1/2 cup: 40mg
Red pepper, 1/2 cup, 95mg
Kiwi, 1 medium: 70mg
Tomato juice, 1 cup: 45mg.
According to recent research, vitamin C may offer health benefits in these regions:
1. Stress . “A recent meta-analysis revealed vitamin C was beneficial to people whose immune system has been weakened due to stress — a condition that’s extremely common in our society,” states Moyad. And, he adds, “because vitamin C is one of the nutrients sensitive to stress, and [is] the first nutrient to be depleted in alcoholics, alcoholics, and obese individuals, it makes it an ideal mark for total health.”
2. Colds. When it comes to the common cold, vitamin C may not be a cure. But some studies show it might help prevent more serious complications. “There’s good evidence taking vitamin C for colds and flu can lower the possibility of creating further complications, such as pneumonia and lung infections,” says Moyad.
3. Stroke. Although research has been conflicting, 1 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those with the greatest concentrations of vitamin C in their blood were correlated with 42% lower stroke risk than those with the lowest concentrations. The reasons for this are not completely clear. But what’s clear is that those who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables have higher blood levels of vitamin C.
“People who eat more fruit and vegetables won’t only have greater [blood] levels of vitamin C, but higher intake of other nutrients potentially beneficial to health, such as fiber and other vitamins and minerals,” study researcher Phyo K. Myint said in an email interview.
4. Skin Aging. Vitamin C affects cells on the inside and outside of the body. It found that high vitamin C intakes were associated with a lower likelihood of a wrinkled look, dryness of the skin, and a much better skin-aging appearance.
Other studies have indicated that vitamin C may also:
Improve macular degeneration.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is necessary for the growth, development, and repair of body tissues. It’s involved in many body functions, such as the formation of collagen, absorption of iron, the immune system, wound healing, and the maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.
Vitamin C is one of several antioxidants that may protect against damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals, as well as toxic chemicals and pollutants such as cigarette smoke. Free radicals can develop and contribute to the development of health conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and arthritis.
Vitamin C isn’t stored in the body (excess amounts are excreted), so overdose isn’t a concern. However, it’s still important not to exceed the safe upper limit of 2,000 milligrams a day to avoid stomach upset and nausea.
Water-soluble vitamins must be continuously supplied in the diet to maintain healthy levels. Eat vitamin-C-rich fruits and vegetables raw, or cook them with minimal water so you don’t lose some of the water-soluble vitamin in the cooking water.
Vitamin C is easily consumed both in food and in pill form, and it can improve the absorption of iron when both are eaten together.
Deficiency of vitamin C is comparatively rare, and primarily found in malnourished adults. In extreme cases, it may result in scurvy — characterized by weakness, anemia, bruising, bleeding, and loose teeth.
The Way to Acquire More Vitamin C in Your Diet
This antioxidant super-nutrient is found in an assortment of fruits and vegetables. Yet, based on dietary intake data and the 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines, many adults don’t get enough vitamin C in their diets. This is especially true of smokers and non-Hispanic black men, according to research done by Jeff Hampl, PhD, RD, and colleagues at the University of Arizona.
Other good sources include dark leafy greens, cantaloupe, papaya, mango, watermelon, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, red peppers, raspberries, blueberries, winter squash, and pineapples.
Add pureed or grated veggies and fruits to recipes for muffins, meatloaf, and soups.
Keep cut-up fruits and veggies on hand so they are ready for a quick snack.
Frozen fruit slices create a cool summer treat.
Include dark lettuce, tomatoes, and shredded broccoli slaw on all of your sandwiches and wraps.
Eat raw veggies with hummus, low-fat dips, and salsas.
Add fresh or frozen berries to muffins, pancakes, cereal, and salads.
Throw a handful of dried fruit on top of your cereal or in a baggie with nuts for an easy snack.
Enjoy a glass of vegetable juice for a filling and low-calorie mid-afternoon snack.
The bottom line? “It is all about the big picture. And eating a varied diet rich in all the nutrients is the best strategy for good health.”
Her advice: Take a daily multivitamin, because most people do not get enough of many nutrients. And if you would like to fight colds and flu, wash your hands more frequently.