Vitamin C is perhaps the most well-known vitamin. This vitamin plays vital role in supporting the natural immune system. Vitamin C deficiency is becoming less common in the Western world, but some groups of people are still at risk.
Given its benefits, it’s not surprising that vitamin C is a popular supplement. But how much should you take per day? What are the health benefits of vitamin C?
And how do you know if you have a vitamin C deficiency? In this article you will learn everything you need to know about vitamin C.
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C , also known as ascorbic acid and L-ascorbic acid , is a vitamin and antioxidant that you get through food and is also used as a dietary supplement. It is important to know that vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. Water-soluble vitamins are not stored properly in the body.
The concentration of vitamin C in the blood is controlled by the kidneys through a process known as renal absorption. It prevents vitamin C from being lost in the urine. However, the body cannot store and process large amounts of vitamin C, so the extra amount leaves the body through the urine within hours.
You will therefore have to get enough vitamin C by eating certain food sources or taking supplements. Vitamin C is necessary for the production of collagen synthesis, L-carnitine and certain neurotransmitters. Vitamin C is also involved in protein metabolism.
What else is vitamin C good for?
Vitamin C supports many essential bodily functions, including:
Antioxidant action: The human body uses antioxidants to protect itself against oxidative stress.
Collagen Formation Support: Without vitamin C, the body is unable to synthesize collagen, the main protein in connective tissue. As a result, a deficiency affects the skin, tendons, bones and ligaments.
Support immune function: contain high concentrations of vitamin C. During an infectious disease, this concentration is quickly depleted.
In the past, vitamin C was used to prevent and treat scurvy.
Scurvy is a disease that develops as a result of a vitamin C deficiency. The deficiency of vitamin C leads to symptoms such as anemia, gum disease and skin problems.
This is because vitamin C is needed to make collagen, an important protein used to make and maintain the skin, cartilage, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels.
Vitamin C is needed for wound healing and for repairing and maintaining teeth and bones. Vitamin C also helps to better absorb the absorption of non-heme iron from plant sources.
When is extra vitamin C used?
You don’t have to worry about scurvy anymore today. Scurvy is now relatively rare, but it used to be common among sailors and pirates who had to spend long periods aboard a ship.
When the voyages took longer than originally planned, the fruit and vegetables ran out and the sailors began to suffer from a vitamin C deficiency, leading to scurvy.
Today, vitamin C is most commonly used for preventing and treating the common cold.
But vitamin C is also used to treat:
- Gum disease
- Stomach ulcers
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Skin infections
- Mental and physical stress
Of course you cannot cure the above diseases with vitamin C, but it is sometimes used as a support.
Some animals (such as dogs, cats, cows and pigs) can make their own vitamin C, but humans must get vitamin C from food and other sources.
How much vitamin C is good for optimal health?
How much vitamin C do you need daily to maintain good health? Opinions on this differ and the optimal dosage is still up for debate. Health organizations from various countries recommend different dosages.
According to the EFSA, the optimal plasma concentration of vitamin C is 50 µmol/l. To maintain this vitamin C level, men need a daily dose of vitamin C of 110 mg and women 95 mg. Unfortunately nothing is said about the amounts in people with stress, overweight, smoking addictions, etc.
Health Benefits of Vitamin C
As mentioned, Vitamin C is an important vitamin that plays a vital role in our body.
The main health benefits of vitamin C are:
#1: Immune System Support
Vitamin C can help you get rid of a cold, but how effective it is depends mainly on the dose you take. A large dose of vitamin C on the day of the symptoms improves, but several small doses spread over the day do not. It can also help strengthen your immune system.
#2: Helps Increase Iron Absorption
Vitamin C helps increase iron absorption. Iron is a necessary mineral that your body needs to make hemoglobin and helps support the brain and memory.
#3: Lowers the risk of developing a urinary tract infection
Bladder infections are urinary tract infections that commonly affect women. Vitamin C may be useful for treating urinary tract infections, such as a bladder infection.
#4: May Help Lower Blood Pressure
Research suggests that vitamin C may play a role in protecting cardiovascular health.More research is needed before conclusions can be drawn.
#5: Lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s
Research shows that elderly people who took a high dose of both vitamin C and vitamin E had a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Researchers found no reduction in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in patients who took only multivitamins, or who took only vitamins E or C.
#6: Counteracts Oxidative Damage
Free radicals that cause oxidative damage contribute to diseases such as cancer, stroke and cardiovascular disease. Vitamin C can help fight these free radicals, potentially reducing your risk of developing these diseases later in life.
#7: Less chance of developing cataracts
Several studies have shown that vitamin C can reduce the risk of developing cataracts. This is apparent from both animal and human studies.
#8: Increases Bone Density
The loss of bone density is a common problem in the elderly, especially women. Bone decalcification has been linked to oxidative stress but vitamin C supplements have been shown to have a protective effect.
#9: Prevents muscle pain and contributes to muscle recovery through sports
Multiple studies suggest that taking vitamin C supplements before exercise can help soothe muscle soreness and reduce oxidative stress. This means that after an intensive workout you will be able to train again sooner.
#10: Improves mood and libido
Suffering from depression or mood swings? Vitamin C can help improve mood and increase libido (3 g vitamin C per day), making you more interested in sex.
#11: Improves Blood Circulation
Another benefit of vitamin C is to stimulate blood circulation.
#12: Reduces wrinkles and prevents skin aging
Both oral administration of vitamin C and cream can help prevent skin aging. The researchers assessed before and after photos and saw an improvement of almost 60%(!) in the participants who treated their skin with vitamin C.
Foods Rich in Vitamin C
The main dietary sources for vitamin C are fruits and vegetables, but low amounts can be obtained from raw animal foods, such as meat and fish. You can prevent a vitamin C deficiency with a healthy diet. Vitamin C supplements are a good addition to a healthy diet.
To get the most nutrients and vitamin C from your fruits and vegetables, there are a few simple tips to follow.
Eat uncooked vegetables every now and then. Vitamin C is often lost when vegetables are heated. Steaming is even better because the vitamins and minerals remain in the vegetables and do not run off when the cooking water is drained.
Below are the foods richest in vitamin C:
Guavas are pear-shaped fruits believed to come from Central America. A 100 gram serving of guava provides 293% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C. To get the highest concentration of vitamin C, it is important that you eat guava with the peel (just like an apple).Guavas are also rich in dietary fiber, vitamin A, folic acid, potassium, copper and manganese.
#2: Red chili pepper
You might not say it, but red chili peppers contain more vitamin C than an orange (144 mg vitamin C per 100 grams).And all that heat you feel after eating hot chili peppers takes energy and calories to produce. Even sweet red peppers contain substances that significantly increase thermo genesis (heat production in our body) and oxygen consumption for more than 20 minutes after being eaten.
Cauliflower contains an impressive number of nutrients and should not be missing from a healthy diet due to its numerous health benefits. A 100 gram serving of cauliflower contains 48 mg of vitamin C. In addition, cauliflower also contains a lot of vitamins K, B6 and B11.
Papaya is a tropical fruit with many nutrients and antioxidants (carotenoids). 100 gram papaya provides 61 mg of vitamin C. Several studies have shown that fermented papaya can reduce oxidative stress in the elderly and people with pre-diabetes, mild hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and liver disease. The vitamin C and lycopene in papaya protects the skin and counteracts the signs of skin aging.
This forest fruit contains almost 60 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams.Strawberries are also rich in manganese, which can help keep blood sugar levels stable.Just make sure you choose organic strawberries. Most strawberries in the supermarket are loaded with pesticides.
Kiwis are very healthy. In particular, the Zespri SunGold kiwis are rich in vitamin C. The yellow kiwis are an excellent source of vitamin C: no less than 160 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. This fruit is also full of other nutrients such as vitamin K, vitamin E, folate and potassium. They are also high in antioxidants and a good source of fiber.
When it comes to vitamin C, black currant can rightly be one of the best fruits. A 100-gram serving of black currant contains 150 mg of vitamin C. In addition to vitamin C, the black currant is rich in antioxidants and natural anthocyanins.
#7: Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts, more commonly known as Brussels sprouts, are relatively low in calories but high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. A 100 gram serving of Brussels sprouts provides 85 mg of vitamin C. Brussels sprouts are also rich in vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting and bone health.
Classic kale stew is not only tasty but also healthy. Kale contains a lot of vitamin C (120 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams of kale), fiber, antioxidants and healthy fats.
Despite their healthy reputation for being packed with vitamin C, tangerines actually contain less vitamin C than many other fruits and vegetables. The mandarin contains about 40 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. Despite that, this citrus fruit remains tasty and healthy. They are high in fiber and low in calories.
#10: Snow peas
You have to love snow peas. But what is certain is that they are rich in vitamins C, B1 and B6. A 100 gram serving of snow peas provides 60 mg of vitamin C. Another advantage of snow peas is that they are low in calories and fit well within a low- carbohydrate diet.
Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C. A 100 gram serving of lemon provides 53 mg of vitamin C.
A 100 gram serving of orange provides 53.2 mg of vitamin C.
Keep in mind that your body generally doesn’t store any water-soluble vitamins, except vitamin B12. For optimal health, you should therefore get vitamin C from your diet every day.
Therefore, try to consume 2 to 3 of the above vitamin C food sources daily. This will help you maintain optimal health.
Can Vitamin C Help With Weight Loss?
Wouldn’t it be great if vitamin C supplements could help with weight loss?
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, but it seems that taking supplemental vitamin C can help make your diet a lot more effective.
Let’s take a look at the connection between vitamin C and weight loss.
People with a vitamin C deficiency have a harder time losing fat mass, research shows. Decrease in vitamin C in the bloodstream can lead to an increase in body fat and waist circumference.
American researchers discovered in 2006 that the amount of vitamin C we absorb directly influences our body’s ability to use fat as an energy source, both during physical exertion and at rest.
In a four-week study, 20 obese men and women were put on a low-fat diet containing nearly 70% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C .They were also randomly given a daily 500 mg capsule of vitamin C, or a placebo.
During the study, the vitamin C content in the capsule group increased by 30% and decreased by 27% in the control group. When the blood concentrations of vitamin C decreased in the control group, reduced fat oxidation was also observed. It fell by 11%.
In short, vitamin C supplements can help burn fat faster and are a good addition to a healthy diet.
You might be interested in reading Benefits of Vitamin D.