Vitamin C Benefits what we can have from it?
Vitamin C is one of the safest and most effective nutrients, specialists say. It might not be the cure for the common cold (even though it’s thought to help prevent more serious complications). But 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 demonstrated a growing list of benefits of vitamin C.
“Vitamin C has received a great deal of attention, and with good reason. Higher blood levels of vitamin C might be the ideal nutrition marker for total wellness,” says study researcher Mark Moyad, MD, MPH, at the University of Michigan. “The more we study vitamin C, the better our understanding of how diverse it is in protecting our health, from cardiovascular, cancer, stroke, eye health [and] resistance to living longer.”
“But,” Moyad notes, “the ideal dosage may be higher than the recommended dietary allowance.”
How Much Vitamin C Sufficient?
The majority of the research Moyad and his colleagues analyzed used 500 daily milligrams of vitamin C to attain health results. That’s greater than the RDA of 75-90 mg a day for adults. So unless you can eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, you may need to take a dietary supplement of vitamin C to gain all the benefits, Moyad states. He suggests taking 500 mg a day, besides eating five servings of fruits and vegetables.
“It is just not practical for most people to eat the necessary servings of fruits and vegetables needed on a consistent basis, whereas choosing a once-daily supplement is safe, effective, and easy to do,” Moyad states. He also notes that only 10% to 20 percent of adults get the recommended nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
Moyad says there is no real downside to taking a 500-milligram supplement, except that some forms 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 mg daily, and there is an excellent track record with strong evidence that taking 500 milligrams daily is safe,” he says.
Still, American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Dee Sandquist, RD, suggests doing your best to work more fruits and vegetables into your diet before taking supplements.
“Strive to eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day, because you’ll get a healthy dose of vitamin C together with an abundance of different vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that are good for disease prevention and overall 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 of the foods and beverages you would need to eat to reach 500 milligrams (mg):
Cantaloupe, 1 cup (8 ounces): 59mg
Green pepper, 1/2 cup, 60mg
Red pepper, 1/2 cup, 95mg
Kiwi, 1 medium: 70mg
According to the recent study, vitamin C may offer health benefits in these regions:
1. Stress. “A recent meta-analysis showed vitamin C was beneficial to individuals whose immune system has been weakened due to stress — a condition that’s very 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, smokers, and obese individuals, it makes it an ideal mark for overall wellbeing.”
2. Colds. In regards 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 reduce the risk of creating further complications, such as pneumonia and lung ailments,” says Moyad.
3. Stroke. Although research has been conflicting, 1 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those with the greatest levels of vitamin C in their blood were correlated with 42% lower stroke risk compared to those with the lowest concentrations. The reasons for this are not completely clear. But what’s clear is that people who eat a lot of fruits and vegetables have higher blood levels of vitamin C.
“People who consume 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. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined links between nutrient intakes and skin aging in 4,025 women aged 40-74. It found that high vitamin C intakes were associated with a lower likelihood of a wrinkled appearance, dryness of the skin, and a much better skin-aging appearance.
Other studies have indicated that vitamin C may also:
Vitamin C’s Role in the Body
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is necessary for the growth, development, and repair of all body tissues. It is 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 many antioxidants that may protect against damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals, as well as toxic chemicals and pollutants like cigarette smoke. Free radicals can develop and contribute to the development of health conditions like cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.
Vitamin C is not stored in the body (excess amounts are excreted), so overdose isn’t a concern. However, it’s nevertheless important not to exceed the safe upper limit of 2,000 mg a day to avoid stomach upset and nausea.
Water-soluble vitamins must be continuously supplied from 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 vitamins in the cooking water.
Vitamin C is easily consumed both in food and in pill form, and it can enhance the absorption of iron if the two are eaten together.
Deficiency of vitamin C is comparatively rare, and primarily found in malnourished adults. In extreme cases, it may lead to scurvy — characterized by weakness, anemia, bruising, bleeding, and loose teeth.
The Way to Get More Vitamin C in Your Diet
This antioxidant super-nutrient is found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. Yet, according to 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 males, according to research done by Jeff Hampl, PhD, RD, and colleagues at the University of Arizona.
Here are eight easy ways to work more fruits and veggies into your diet each day:
Add pureed or grated veggies and fruits to recipes for muffins, meatloaf, and soups.
Keep cut-up fruits and veggies on hand so that they are prepared for a fast snack.
Frozen fruit slices make a cool summer treat.
Include dark lettuce, tomatoes, and shredded broccoli slaw on all your sandwiches and wraps.
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 as 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 of the nutrients is the best way for good health.”
Her advice: Take a daily multivitamin, because most people don’t get enough of several nutrients. And if you would like to combat colds and flu, wash your hands more often.