Vitamin C is water-soluble and the body does not store it. In order to maintain adequate vitamin C levels, people need to consume foods that contain it every day.
The body needs vitamin C to perform various functions. Here are some of them:
- It helps the body produce collagen, L-carnitine and some neurotransmitters.
- As an antioxidant, it helps to remove unwanted substances from the body, called reactive oxidants (ROS).
- It helps the body absorb iron.
- It can strengthen the immune system.
- It can promote wound healing.
ROS is a substance, such as free radicals produced by natural body processes, exposure to pollution and other factors. They cause oxidative stress, which in turn leads to cell damage.
The antioxidant activity of vitamin C may help reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of various diseases, including certain cancers.
The body needs vitamin C to produce collagen. This is the main component of connective tissue, accounting for 1-2% of muscle tissue.
Collagen is an important component in fibrous tissue, such as:
- Blood vessel
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 may include the following.
Vitamin C helps the body produce collagen, which is found in skin, muscles and other tissues.
People with low vitamin C intake may experience slower wound healing because their body's ability to produce collagen is lower.
During recovery, healthcare professionals can recommend supplements for people with low vitamin C levels.
Vitamin C may benefit cardiovascular health for several reasons. Research shows that it may:
- Has antioxidant properties
- Help dilate blood vessels
- Increase nitric oxide production
- Helps reduce the instability of atherosclerotic plaque
This helps prevent heart disease and high blood pressure, or high blood pressure.
However, there is insufficient evidence to suggest that taking supplements can help protect heart health.
Cataracts and age-related macular degeneration
Vitamin C may 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 these two conditions, so any benefit may be attributed to the antioxidant activity of vitamin C.
A 2019 study observed 31 people around 60 years old to understand whether taking vitamin C supplements had an effect on their blood sugar levels after eating.
Compared with taking a placebo, the participants' blood sugar levels and blood pressure improved after taking the supplement for 4 months. This shows that vitamin C can one day treat diabetes.
Vitamin C can enhance the absorption of iron. Some healthcare professionals recommend taking vitamin C supplements with iron tablets to improve the absorption of iron deficiency anemia patients.
In 2020, I studied 432 people who took iron supplements due to iron deficiency anemia. Some people take vitamin C when taking iron supplements, while others do not.
However, both groups had similar increases in iron content, which suggests that vitamin C supplementation is unnecessary for this purpose.
Air pollution is composed of a variety of substances and chemical substances, which have a negative impact on people's health.
Some studies have shown that the combination of vitamin C and vitamin E may have antioxidant effects and can help reduce symptoms of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
During an allergic reaction, the immune system triggers an inflammatory response, which can lead to symptoms such as swelling and hives. During this process, the body produces ROS, which can cause oxidative stress.
In a 2018 study, 71 people with skin or respiratory allergies received different doses of intravenous vitamin C, and the researchers observed the severity of the participants’ symptoms. Their paper concluded that taking high doses of vitamin C may help reduce allergy symptoms.
In a 2014 study, 70 people took 2 grams of vitamin C or a placebo and then spent 20 minutes on a life raft in a wave pool. People taking supplements have less seasickness.
Can vitamin C help treat the common cold?
Many people believe that vitamin C can cure the common cold, but research shows that this has not been determined. However, a daily dose of 200 milligrams (mg) or more may benefit the following people:
- Participate in extreme physical activity
- Exposed to cold temperatures
- Low vitamin C levels due to smoking
Vitamin C may help treat cancer, but experts have not confirmed this.
As an antioxidant, vitamin C can protect the body from oxidative stress, which occurs when ROS levels are high. Oxidative stress can cause cell damage and may play a role in certain cancers.
A 2015 mouse study found that taking high doses of vitamin C can slow down the growth of certain types of cancerous tissues. The paper shows that one day, vitamin C may become a new treatment for colorectal cancer.
In addition, the author's 2013 review indicated that vitamin C may well benefit cancer patients in conjunction with other treatments.
The National Cancer Institute pointed out that some alternative therapists already use intravenous vitamin C to treat cancer, fatigue, and infections. However, they pointed out that more research is needed.
Currently, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved intravenous vitamin C to treat cancer.
The Dietary Supplements Office recommends that people consume the following recommended daily intake of vitamin C (RDA):
|age||gender||Recommended intake (mg)|
|4-8 years old||any||25|
|9-13 years old||any||45|
|14-18 years old||male||75|
|14-18 years old||female||65|
|19+ years old||male||90|
|19+ years old||female||75|
Extra vitamin C is needed during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
The best sources of vitamin C are fresh fruits and vegetables. However, heating and cooking in water will destroy some of the vitamin C content in these foods, so it is best to eat raw foods.
Some good sources of vitamin C include:
- Red pepper and green pepper
- Oranges and orange juice
- Spinach and other green leafy vegetables
- Haricot vert
Those at risk of vitamin C deficiencyinclude:
- People who smoke or are exposed to second-hand smoke
- Infants who consume only evaporated or boiled milk
- People with indifferent diets
- People with certain health conditions, especially those involved in intestinal malabsorption
Smoking and exposure to other pollutants can cause oxidative stress. Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, can help reduce oxidative stress.
Smokers tend to have lower vitamin C levels than non-smokers. This may be due to higher levels of oxidative stress.
Smoking can also cause inflammation and damage to the mucous membranes of the mouth, throat, and lungs.
Vitamin C is necessary for healthy mucous membranes and helps reduce inflammation, so the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that smokers consume an extra 35 mg of vitamin C per day.
The recommended maximum intake of vitamin C for adults is 2,000 mg per day .
Taking too much vitamin C is unlikely to cause any major problems, but if a person consumes more than 1,000 mg of vitamin C per day, they will not be able to absorb all of it. This may cause diarrhea and gastrointestinal discomfort.
People are unlikely to eat too much through their diet, and their bodies cannot store them. However, large intake of supplements may cause kidney stones.
This may also increase the risk of cardiovascular problems in women after menopause, but there is insufficient evidence to confirm this.
People with hereditary hemochromatosis (a type of iron absorption disorder) should consult their healthcare professional before taking vitamin C supplements. High vitamin C levels may cause tissue damage.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant and an essential nutrient, with multiple functions. For example, it helps produce collagen, reduces oxidative stress and promotes wound healing.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamin C. Some people take supplements, but it is best to consult a healthcare professional first to make sure they are safe to use.