Vitamin C, also known as ‘Ascorbic Acid’ is a water-soluble vitamin and a highly powerful antioxidant. It protects one’s body from free radicals which play an important role in the aging process. It helps strengthen the blood vessel and muscles. Unlike other animals, humans do not have the ability to synthesize this vitamin internally. Hence, our Vitamin C intake depends only on natural foods and artificial supplements.
Good amounts of Vitamin C can be obtained from certain fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits such as oranges, strawberries, gooseberries and grapes and leafy vegetables like cabbage, cauliflowers, etc. are great sources of this vitamin. Potatoes, red peppers, parsley and Brussel sprouts too contain considerable amounts of it. However, do make sure to cook food briefly at low temperatures to preserve the vitamin in your food.
Vitamin C Benefits
The requirement of Vitamin C content in one’s body varies according to age. For instance, United States’ Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) study showing the amounts of Vitamin C required outlines intake for adults (18 years and above) as 65-75 mg of the vitamin, whereas for infants (up to 12 months) it is 40-50 mg. Now, let us consider some amazing benefits of including the vitamin in your diet.
Speeds up the healing of wounds
Vitamin C leads to the production of collagen, a protein present in connective tissues of the skin, muscles, and tendons. So regular intake of this vitamin is helpful in wound healing. Whether the wound is a minor cut, a broken bone, burns or deep wounds, it readily speeds up the healing process.
Role in neurological conditions
Vitamin C is crucial in protecting the brain and nervous system against the harmful effects of stress. When taken in optimum amounts, it synthesizes the regulation of stress hormones. Additionally, high levels of the nutrient may also reduce the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as it helps to increase beta-carotene and lycopene.
Helps battle asthma
Those who have chronic asthma can greatly benefit from Vitamin C. It is essentially an antioxidant and antihistamine that enables improved lung function. Studies suggest that 1000-2000 mg of the vitamin every day can effectively reduce the production of histamines which is a major cause of inflammation in asthma patients.
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Various studies suggest that Vitamin C deficiency can decrease the body’s resistance against certain pathogens. So, including it in one’s diet helps to fight various infections and allergies thereby strengthening the immune system.
Reduces risk of cataracts
Direct exposure to sunlight leads to the generation of free radicals in one’s eye lens which causes cataract or blindness in the elderly. Free radicals can be successfully eliminated by Vitamin C intake. Therefore, its consumption reduces the risk of cataract in older people along with improving their vision.
Aids in treatment of cancer
High dosage of Vitamin C increases the effect of cancer-eliminating drugs utilized in chemotherapy. Unlike other drugs, this vitamin is target-specific, so it doesn’t damage other cells of the body. Moreover, there is a study showing that increased intake of the nutrient can also reduce the risk of cancer of the mouth, lungs, throat, vocal cords, stomach, colon, esophagus, and rectum.
Reduces the risk of stroke
Vitamin C kills the free radicals, which damage the walls of arteries, and thereby decrease the possibility of a stroke. Along with this, its consumption also lowers cholesterol and improves blood flow.
Cures Lead Toxicity
People with Vitamin C levels in their body are often found to have higher amounts of lead in their bloodstream. Smokers are suggested daily consumption of supplements of the vitamin as it reduces lead levels and can alleviate lead toxicity.
Helps in weight loss
Adequate levels of Vitamin C can foster weight and fat loss by increasing oxidation of body fat during exercise and enhancing metabolism. So, the inclusion of citrus fruits or leafy vegetables in your diet before or after one’s exercise routine can aid better fat loss.
Effective for arthritis symptoms
People suffering from arthritis are administered Vitamin C supplements to raise the levels of the vitamin in their bodies. This helps to reduce pain, swelling of joints and inflammation as well. The production, repair, and maintenance of cartilaginous tissues are enhanced as a result of collagen production by Vitamin C. However, balance in its intake is crucial as very high doses can worsen the condition.
Beneficial for skin problems
Clinical trials have proven that Vitamin C prevents sagging of skin, reduces wrinkles, protects from UV rays as well as improves the elasticity of the skin. Therefore, today it is widely used in various face packs, creams, and moisturizers.
Helps maintain healthy gums
Vitamin C deficiency can cause periodontal disease which is a severe form of gingivitis. It develops because lower levels of the vitamin can weaken connective tissues thereby easily breaking down capillaries. A regular and moderated intake of Vitamin C can prevent bleeding gums and lead to improved oral health.
Regulates blood sugar
Regular and long-term intake of Vitamin C supplements aids the regulation of blood sugar levels in patients suffering from Type 2 Diabetes. The vitamin stimulates insulin mechanism, reduces fasting blood glucose thereby enhancing the efficacy of the treatment.
Though today scurvy is quite a rare occurrence, Vitamin C deficiency is one of the leading causes of scurvy. Consumption of 10 g of Vitamin C on a daily basis can help one prevent scurvy.
Great for healthy hair
Dry and flaky skin can lead to the clogging of hair follicles. This prevents hair growth and leads to the production of hair growth. Vitamin C helps to fight the bacteria in the scalp and prevents premature greying of hair.
Vitamin C Rich Foods
Now that we know the many benefits of Vitamin C, we take a look at a few foods rich in Vitamin C. Well known as a potent antioxidant along with containing nutrients to enhance skin, immune system, bone, and collagen tissue health, this vitamin is abundantly found in the following food items. Currently, the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C is 90 mg for adults, and since humans can’t naturally produce this vitamin, we should readily try to fulfill this requirement.
Guavas contain large amounts of the antioxidant, lycopene. Eating just one guava can provide 126 mg of this vitamin to us. People with high blood pressure and cholesterol levels should eat 7 pieces of guava every day as it significantly lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
One kiwi contains 71 mg of the vitamin. On consuming kiwi, one can improve immunity, reduce oxidative stress and lower cholesterol levels. It also increases blood cell activity by 20%, can decrease blood platelet stickiness by 18% and triglycerides by 15%. A combination of these factors prevents stroke and reduces the risk of blood clots.
Many people eat Brussel sprouts as they are rich in potassium, fiber, Vitamin A, K, and folate. But only a few ones know that Brussel sprouts are a good source of Vitamin C as well, just half a cup of cooked Brussel sprouts provides 49 mg of the nutrient. Therefore, one can greatly reduce the risk of fractures while also improving the formation of collagen.
Oranges are an excellent fruit that offers considerable amounts of Vitamin C. A medium-sized orange contains 70 mg of Vitamin C. In fact, citrus fruits can help one meet the vitamin requirement easily.
The easiest and most affordable source of this vitamin is lemon. Including one whole lemon in your diet fulfills 92% of one’s daily Vitamin C requirement. From adding a little lemon in your salad to having a glass of lemonade, there are several ways to include lemons in your daily diet.
Papaya is good for digestion and contains anti-inflammatory properties as well. It accounts for 97% of one’s daily Vitamin C need. Therefore, eating papaya can aid memory, it is especially useful for patients suffering from mild levels of Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin C deficiency
The deficiency of Vitamin C in one’s body is quite rare and takes months to develop. The shortage of this all-important nutrient essentially means that collagen formation in one’s body has significantly decreased or stopped altogether. A shortage of this essential nutrient leads to an illness known as scurvy. This severely affects the body’s ability to repair itself. The symptoms of this deficiency include fatigue, muscle and joint pains, easy bruising, poor immunity, swelling of gums, dry and damaged skin, poor healing of wounds, unusual alterations in bones and unexplained weight loss.
A solution for better immunity, prevention of cataract, stroke, cancer and neurological conditions, the benefits of Vitamin C indeed make it one of the most important vitamins that ought to be a part of everyone’s diet!