Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a vital vitamin the body needs in order to function on a day to day basis. Your body requires vitamin C to aid the immune system, healing injuries and maintaining bone health.
Lack of vitamin C can also lead to things like scurvy. Unlike a few centuries ago though, when people were travelling long distances by boat, and couldn’t include fresh fruits or veg in their diet, scurvy is now pretty rare.
There are a number of benefits to getting enough vitamin C in your diet, and not just preventing scurvy! We’ve listed some of the most important health benefits below:
Reduced Risk of Serious Illness
Vitamin C is an antioxidant and these are important to help the body fight against free radicals. Free radicals are unstable atoms that can easily react with other molecules. This can result in unwanted damage being caused to the body. Therefore, reducing the number of free radicals in the body will prevent illness and contracting diseases.
Prevents Against Iron Deficiency
Iron is essential in an individual’s diet as it assists in the transportation of oxygen around the body. Without iron, the red blood cells will struggle to support the body and vital organs that need such nutrients will have a harder time functioning. Ample levels of vitamin C in the body assist in absorbing iron from food sources. A person lacking in iron is at risk of developing anaemia. Although only a temporary condition, this causes the person to be tired and weak and therefore unable to function properly on a day to day basis.
Regulating Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of blood flow against the walls of blood vessels in the body. A person with high blood pressure over a long period of time runs an increased risk of cardiac arrest and other serious heart diseases. Research indicates an ample amount of vitamin C on a daily basis helps relax the blood vessels and strain on the circulatory system in everyday life and while exercising. It is important for an individual looking to manage their blood pressure to remember that relying solely on vitamin C is not advisable. You should also consider all elements of your diet, and how much exercise you do on a regular basis.
Shortens Recovery Time From Illness
Vitamin C plays a key role in the formation of white blood cells – these are the body’s defence mechanisms in fighting infections. Therefore, a person that has contracted an illness may look to supplement with vitamin C. They can also increase their consumption of foods high in vitamin C in order to shorten recovery time.
Protects Your Memory
Oxidative stress and inflammation of the brain and nervous system over a prolonged period can promote the early onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s. This can consequently cause a decline in the memory, language and thinking skills of an individual. Studies have shown that low levels of vitamin C are linked to cognitive impairment. Therefore the studies suggest that a high intake of vitamin C can help preserve this ability as a person ages.
How Much Vitamin C Do I Need?
You should be able to get all the vitamin C you need from the food you eat. The majority of adults need around 40mg of vitamin C a day. And as a single orange has just over 50mg of vitamin C inside it, that’s enough to cover your recommended intake!
Vitamin C in the Diet
As mentioned above, to maintain vitamin C levels, most people can do this by eating a balanced diet. Oranges, broccoli and spinach can provide high levels of vitamin C, and many other foods have some amount of vitamin C in them. It’s good to keep in mind that it’s not possible to store vitamin C in the body over a long period of time because it is a soluble vitamin. As a result, it can only be maintained through regular consumption.
The daily intake advised for an individual depends on age, condition and body composition. The most important thing is for each person to look at their own dietary requirements and seek medical guidance for vitamin C when looking to lead a healthy lifestyle. Someone who takes vitamin C supplements should make sure the recommended daily intake is not exceeded, as this can be harmful.
Too much vitamin C can lead to things like diarrhoea, flatulence and stomach pain. This is only if you’re taking over 1,000mg per day, and the symptoms can be reversed once you stop taking supplements.