Vitamin C occurs naturally in some foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C supplements are also available.
Other names for vitamin C include L-ascorbic acid, ascorbic acid, and L-ascorbate.
In this article, learn more about why we need vitamin C, how much we need it, and where to find it.
Why We Need Vitamin C
Vitamin C is water soluble and the body does not store it. To maintain adequate vitamin C levels, people need to consume foods containing it every day.
The body needs vitamin C for various functions. Some of those:
ROS are substances like free radicals caused by natural body processes, exposure to pollution, and other factors. They can lead to oxidative stress, which can cause cell damage.
The antioxidant activity of vitamin C can help reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of developing various conditions, including certain cancers.
The body needs vitamin C to produce collagen. This is the main component of connective tissue and makes up 1-2% of muscle tissue.
Collagen is a vital component in fibrous tissues such as:
Low levels of vitamin C in the body can cause scurvy. Symptoms of scurvy include swollen joints, bleeding gums and loose teeth, anemia, and fatigue.
The benefits of vitamin C can include the following.
Vitamin C helps the body produce collagen and is found in skin, muscles and other tissues.
People with low vitamin C intake may experience slower wound healing as their bodies can produce less collagen.
During recovery periods, healthcare professionals may recommend supplements for people with low vitamin C levels.
Vitamin C can benefit cardiovascular health for a variety of reasons. Research has suggested that it can:
However, there is insufficient evidence that taking supplements will help protect heart health.
Cataracts and age-related macular degeneration
Vitamin C can help reduce the risk of cataracts and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration. However, more research is needed.
Experts believe that oxidative stress may be a factor in both situations, so any benefit could be due to vitamin C’s antioxidant activity.
A 2019 study looked at 31 people around the age of 60 to see if taking vitamin C supplements made a difference in their after-meal glucose levels.
After taking the supplements for 4 months, the participants’ glucose levels and blood pressure improved compared to taking a placebo. This suggests that vitamin C could one day be a cure for diabetes.
Vitamin C improves the absorption of iron, and some healthcare professionals recommend taking vitamin C supplements along with iron tablets to increase absorption in people with iron deficiency anemia.
A 2020 study looked at 432 people taking iron supplements for iron deficiency anemia. Some took vitamin C along with iron supplements, some did not.
However, both groups saw similar increases in iron, suggesting that vitamin C supplementation was unnecessary for this purpose.
Air pollution consists of various substances and chemicals that can adversely affect people’s health.
Some research has suggested that the combination of vitamin C and vitamin E may have an antioxidant effect that may help reduce symptoms of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
During an allergic reaction, the immune system triggers an inflammatory response that can lead to symptoms such as swelling and hives. During this process, the body produces ROS that can lead to oxidative stress.
In a 2018 study, 71 people with skin or respiratory allergies took varying doses of intravenous vitamin C, and researchers observed the severity of participants’ symptoms. Their articles conclude that taking high doses of vitamin C can help reduce allergy symptoms.
They also found evidence that low vitamin C levels are common in people with allergies.
In a 2014 study, 70 people took 2 grams of vitamin C or a placebo and then spent 20 minutes on a lifeboat raft in a wave pool. Those who received the supplement had lower seasickness.
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