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Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is necessary for the healthy functioning of blood vessels, repairing damaged tissue, producing collagen, maintaining a healthy immune system, absorbing iron, regulating hormones, creating dopamine, and storing energy (ATP).
Vitamin C also has powerful antioxidant properties, which researchers believe lowers the number of free radicals that cause cancer, disease, and aging.
The benefits of ascorbic acid are amazing and vast. That is why doctors, nutritionists, and wellness coaches advise everyone to get enough vitamin C each day. Plus, vitamin C provides a completely natural and safe alternative to many drugs.
The human body can’t create vitamin C. Thus, we have to get vitamin C from food sources or vitamin supplements.
Vitamin C Sources
Most people immediately picture oranges when they think of vitamin C. While oranges do contain 96 mg of Vit C per cup, many other fruits and vegetables have just as much or more. Here are the top ten sources of ascorbic acid.
- Guava: 377 mg, vitamin C per cup
- Bell Peppers: 190 mg, vitamin C per cup
- Kiwi: 167 mg, vitamin C per cup
- Strawberries: 98 mg, vitamin C per cup
- Orange: 96 mg, vitamin C per cup
- Papaya: 88 mg, vitamin C per cup
- Broccoli: 81 mg, vitamin C per cup
- Pineapple: 79 mg, vitamin C per cup
- Tomato: 55 mg, vitamin C per cup
- Sour Sop (AKA: Guanabana): 46.4 mg, per cup
Eat one cup of these foods per day and you’ll exceed the daily recommended amount of vitamin C (65 – 75 mg). But don’t worry, it is extremely difficult to overdose on ascorbic acid.
Sticking to a whole foods diet will make it easy to get more than enough vitamin C in your diet.
Vitamin C Benefits
Ascorbic acid is important for health and longevity. Getting enough vitamin C in your diet has many benefits for your health as well as your appearance.
Heart Disease Prevention
Ascorbic acid is an antioxidant. But, what does that mean?
It means that vitamin C has the ability to stop oxidation. Okay, but what is oxidation?
Oxidation is what happens when our bodies (cells, specifically) use the oxygen we breathe for energy. When this happens, our cells release free radicals, a term you have probably heard in a negative light.
Free radicals can damage other nearby cells during the process of oxidation. In normal amounts, this damage is perfectly safe because it stimulates repair. However, when too many free radicals are produced because of too much oxidation, the damage can outweigh repair and cause harm to not only our cells but also our DNA.
The imbalance is called “oxidative stress”, and I’m sure you’ve heard it within medical, science, and nutrition lingo.
Oxidative stress, or too much oxidation, can occur when we are under too much physical or mental stress. For example, hiking a mountain and exerting yourself where the oxygen is thin can cause oxidative stress.
It can also happen when our bodies are exposed to danger such as bacteria, pollutants, pesticides, smoke, and too much sugar (learn more about why should consider a sugar free lifestyle). This is why these harmful things cause diseases like heart disease and cancer.
Okay. Now we know what oxidation means. We can understand how vitamin C is benefical–it lowers the rate of oxidation.
Studies show that oxidation is related to risks for heart disease and other coronary issues. Research also shows that antioxidant therapies, including vitamin C treatments, are effective in preventing and treating heart disease and even heart failure.
Vitamin C is also known to relax blood vessels and stimulate blood flow, which is also important for a healthy heart.
The point is: get your vitamin C and have a healthy heart.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. This means it has the ability to reduce oxidative damage caused by carcinogens, those substances we just discussed that cause cancer (e.g. smoke, glucose, pollution, pesticides)
Studies show that fruit and vegetable intake is associated with a lower risk of cancer, and researchers believe that this is due to their vitamin C content. Remove the mass amounts of carbs but get the right amount of vitamin C and you’ll be headed down the right direction.
Other studies have found that people who consume more vitamin C (whether from food or supplements) have lower rates of lung, breast, colon, stomach, mouth, and throat cancer.
Research suggests that vitamin C can help treat and heal people of cancer, too. This is possible due to the fact that large doses of vitamin C raise plasma levels and are cytotoxic to tumor cells.
It seems that oral vitamin C alone has not been successful in curing cancer. However, when used in combination with intravenous (IV) administration, vitamin c has worked to treat difficult tumors.
Research points to oxidative stress (again) as a cause for vision loss and cataracts. So, researchers hypothesize that vitamin C can help prevent and treat eye conditions.
For example, one study shows that taking vitamin C supplements lowers the risk of age-related macular degeneration by 28%.
Another study found a 43% lower risk of developing cataracts among older adults who took vitamin C supplements.
We’ve always been told to eat carrots for healthy eyes. But, don’t forget your foods high in vitamin C, too.
While studies have been inconsistent, some have shown that taking vitamin C may reduce the duration of a cold. This is especially true for children, people who participate in extreme physical exercise (remember oxidation), and those who live in cold climates.
It is not known exactly how vitamin C shortens the life of colds. Some think it may be the antihistamine effect of ascorbic acid, which can reduce allergy-like symptoms such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, and scratchy throat.
Others believe it is due to the immune booster powers of vitamin C. Vitamin C encourages the production of white blood cells that help protect and fight bacteria and viruses.
Additionally, the antioxidant powers of vitamin C can help repair damaged molecules and shorten healing time.
Basically, taking high doses of vitamin C at the onset of cold is worth a shot. Plus, with all the benefits of vitamin C has on our bodies–why not?
Scurvy is not some historical disease that nobody gets anymore. It is a real threat to people who do not get enough vitamin C.
Scurvy is caused by ascorbic acid deficiencies. It is a disease involving the weakening of connective tissues including the blood vessels, bones, and skin. This happens due to a lack of collagen, which is produced by vitamin C.
People who are at risk for scurvy include those on fad diets or have poor quality diets, with eating disorders, who smoke, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
The treatment for scurvy is vitamin C. So, make sure you’re getting your ascorbic acid and you won’t have to worry. Argh Matey
Healthy Blood Pressure
Vitamin C helps relax the blood vessels and stimulate consistent blood flow. It also produces collagen, which is necessary for healthy blood vessels.
It is not surprising, then, that studies show vitamin C is protective against high blood pressure and can lower blood pressure among people with hypertension.
Hypertension (high blood pressure) can lead to heart disease and stroke if left untreated. It can be caused by poor diets high in cholesterol and sugar, stress, and genetics.
It is not known if the effects of vitamin C on blood pressure are longterm. Thus, having a consistent intake of vitamin C is important.
Anti-Aging and Healthy Skin
As we have learned, vitamin C is necessary for collagen production. Collagen is the key to healthy and elastic skin and tissues.
Taking vitamin C supplements, eating foods rich in ascorbic acid, and even using creams and oils with vitamin C can keep your skip beautiful and prevent or reduce wrinkles.
Vitamin C has been proven to prevent plaque (which is the build-up of cholesterol) and also reverse early plaque formation. It can protect against oxidation of LDL cholesterol which helps keep cholesterol from building up in the bloodstream.
Vitamin C’s effect on blood flow is also important for regulating cholesterol in the blood. It makes sure the cholesterol does not get “stuck” and is excreted from the body in healthy ways.
While findings are debated, some researchers and nutritionists believe that high cholesterol can cause heart disease, hypertension, and heart failure. Get your ascorbic acid and skip the risk.
Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine. It actually destroys parts of the histamine molecule, reducing the amount of histamine in the blood.
Histamine levels are what cause allergic reactions and those awful allergy symptoms. Getting 500mg or more of vitamin C per day can help to prevent and fight allergies.
No more having to take those allergy pills that make you drowsy. Instead, vitamin C offers a natural and safe method.
Autoimmune Disorder Treatment
Vitamin C can help treat the symptoms of autoimmune disorders and prevent relapses. How? Let’s explain more about what an autoimmune disease entails.
Autoimmune disorders are diseases in which the body attacks its own immune system after provocation. Provocation could be chronic stress, bacteria, and an unhealthy gut due to lifestyle factors (and stress).
Approximately 80% of our immune system lives in our guts. So, GI health is extremely important in preventing and treating autoimmune issues.
That’s where vitamin C comes in. Ascorbic acid has been shown to help regulate gut bacteria by killing off bad bacteria in the gut and letting good bacteria reign.
So, vitamin C is used to treat symptoms of autoimmune disorders as well as support the immune system. As we’ve discussed, vitamin C is an immune booster.
Vitamin C can help prevent gout, which is a type of arthritis involving inflammation of the joints. It most commonly affects the toes and feet.
Gout is caused when the body has too much uric acid in the blood. This can happen due to kidney issues, diabetes, overweight, hypothyroidism, and drinking alcohol. When there is too much uric acid, it can harden and deposit in the joints.
Vitamin C’s effect on the body’s blood flow helps keep uric acid moving along rather than depositing. Studies show that people who take vitamin C have a 44% lower risk of developing gout.
Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron from plant sources and eggs.
The type of iron found in eggs, vegetables, grains, fruits, nuts, and seeds is called nonheme iron. It is more difficult for bodies to absorb because of phytonutrients block the nonheme iron from getting through.
Luckily, vitamin C assists nonheme iron molecules in releasing more iron. More iron released means more iron to absorb.
So, vitamin C can prevent iron deficiency, especially among vegetarians and vegans, and anemia. It can also be used to effectively control iron deficiency anemia.
Healthy Brain Function
Oxidative stress (yes, it’s back) can cause inflammation in the brain and near the nerves and spinal cord. That is why it is blamed for having a role in dementia and poor memory.
Vitamin C has the power to protect against oxidative stress and help repair damage due to oxidation. Studies show that dementia patients have much lower vitamin C levels and high vitamin C intake is associated with better memory and thinking.
Protect your brain and get enough ascorbic acid.
Diets for Getting Your Ascorbic Acid Fix
Ready to run to the vitamin aisle to get your daily dose of vitamin C benefits? You should be! The benefits of vitamin C are out of this world.
But, you don’t have to take supplements to get enough vitamin C or ascorbic acid.