Vitamin C is a very essential vitamin, something your body cannot produce on its own. It plays many roles and is connected to a host of health benefits.
Water-soluble, vitamin C can be found in many fruits and veggies, including strawberries, oranges, kiwi, bell peppers, spinach, broccoli, and kale.
The recommended daily allowance for vitamin C is 75 mg for females and 90 mg for males.
While you should get your vitamin C from foods, many also use supplements to further meet their nutritional needs.
Check out these seven scientifically-proven benefits of vitamin C supplements.
Reduce chronic disease risk
Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, strengthens the body’s natural defenses.
Antioxidants, molecules that help your immune system, protect cells from harmful molecules known as free radicals.
When free radicals build up, they create something called oxidative stress, and this is linked to several chronic diseases.
Studies show that taking more vitamin C may boost your levels of blood antioxidants by up to 30 percent, helping your body’s natural defenses combat inflammation.
Vitamin C, a strong antioxidant, boosts blood antioxidant levels, reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease.
High blood pressure management
About one-third of American adults suffer from high blood pressure.
High blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease, which is the top cause of death around the world.
Studies show that vitamin C helps to lower blood pressure in people without and with high blood pressure.
One animal study said that popping a vitamin C supplement relaxed the blood vessels carrying blood from the heart, reducing blood pressure levels.
Additionally, one analysis of several human studies revealed that taking vitamin C supplements could reduce systolic blood pressure (which is the upper value) by 3.8 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (which is the lower value) by 1.5 mmHg in healthy adults.
In adults who suffered from high blood pressure, it was found that vitamin C supplements could reduce diastolic blood pressure by 1.7 mmHg and systolic blood pressure by 4.9 mmHg.
These results are certainly promising, but it still is not clear whether or not the effects on blood pressure can be seen over the long term. Also, those with high blood pressure shouldn’t depend on vitamin C by itself for treatment.
Vitamin C supplements may lower blood pressure in healthy adults and people with high blood pressure.
Lower heart disease risk
Heart disease is the top cause of death around the world.
Several factors can increase your risk of heart disease, including high triglyceride or LDL (also known as “bad”) cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and low levels of HDL (also known as “good”) cholesterol.
Vitamin C can reduce those risk factors, and can even reduce the risk of heart disease.
One analysis of nine studies revealed that after a decade, those who took 700 mg of vitamin C every day had a 25 percent lower risk of heart disease than people who didn’t.
Another analysis revealed that eating vitamin C in foods — rather than supplements — could be linked to a lower heart disease risk.
But scientists are still unsure whether those who consumed vitamin-C-rich foods had also led a healthier lifestyle than those who just took the supplement. That’s why it’s still unclear whether those differences were due to additional aspects of their diets.
Another analysis of several studies considered the effects of taking 500 mg of vitamin C every day on risk factors related to heart disease like triglyceride levels and blood cholesterol.
This analysis revealed that consuming a vitamin C supplement greatly lowered LDL (aka “bad”) cholesterol by about 8 mg per dL and blood triglycerides by about 20 mg per dL.
The conclusion was that taking at least 500 mg of vitamin C every day could reduce heart disease risk. But if someone already eats a vitamin-C-rich diet, supplements may not give you any additional benefits for heart health.
Vitamin C supplements can result in a reduced heart disease risk and may lower heart disease risk factors such as triglycerides and high blood levels of LDL (bad).
Reduce blood uric acid levels/prevent gout attacks
Gout, a kind of arthritis, affects four percent of American adults.
This is a very painful condition that results in joint inflammation, especially in the big toes. People can have swelling and sudden attacks of pain.
Gout symptoms result from an elevation of uric acid in the blood. This type of acid is a waste product that the body produces. At higher levels, it crystallizes and deposits itself in the joints.
Many studies have revealed that vitamin C helps to reduce uric acid in the blood, thus protecting against gout attacks.
One study found that people who consumed the most vitamin C experienced much lower blood levels of uric acid as compared with those who had the least.
Another study of men over a period of 20 years was conducted to see if vitamin C intake could be connected to the development of gout. Those who popped a vitamin C supplement experienced a 44 percent lower risk of gout.
Another analysis of several studies revealed that taking a vitamin C supplement for a month greatly reduced blood uric acid, when compared with placebos.
While there could be a link between vitamin C and uric acid levels, there must be more research done to conclusively solidify the effects of vitamin C on gout.
Vitamin-C-rich foods as well as supplements can lead to a lower blood uric acid level and, consequently, a lower risk of gout.
Prevent iron deficiency
Iron, a vital nutrient, performs many functions in the body. Iron is necessary for producing red blood cells and getting oxygen through the body.
Vitamin C supplements may improve the absorption of iron from your diet. Vitamin C converts iron that is not being absorbed, like plant-based iron sources, into an easier-to-absorb form.
This is good news for people on a meat-free diet, because meat is a big source of iron.
Taking 100 mg of vitamin C can improve iron absorption by 67 percent.
Thus, vitamin C can reduce the risk of anemia of those who are prone to an iron deficiency.
One study of children who had mild iron deficiency anemia showed that when they were given vitamin C supplements, that alone helped them to better control their anemia.
If you suffer from low iron levels, you can consume more vitamin-C-rich foods or take a supplement to improve blood iron levels.
Vitamin C helps with the absorption of iron that is not being absorbed properly, such as the case of iron in people who don’t eat meat. It can also lower the risk of iron deficiency.
One of the biggest reasons people pop vitamin C supplements is so they can boost their immunity. That’s because vitamin C is a big part of the immune system.
Vitamin C encourages white blood cell production, called lymphocytes and phagocytes, helping to protect the body against any infections.
Vitamin C also helps white blood cells function better while safeguarding those white blood cells from any damage done by harmful molecules like free radicals.
Vitamin C plays a big role in your skin’s defense system, acting as an antioxidant and strengthening barriers in the skin.
Studies show that taking vitamin C can shorten the time it takes for wounds to heal.
Plus, low vitamin C levels may be connected to poor health outcomes.
For instance, those with pneumonia have lower vitamin C levels. Thus, vitamin C supplements can shorten recovery time.
Vitamin C can boost immunity by making white blood cells function more efficiently, which strengthens the skin’s defense system. It also helps your wounds to heal faster.
Protects memory and thinking during aging
Dementia involves poor thinking and memory, affecting more than 35 million people worldwide. It happens mostly to older adults.
Studies show that inflammation in areas close to the nerves, brain, and spine (which make up the central nervous system) may increase dementia risk.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. Low levels are actually linked to impaired abilities to remember and think.
Even more studies reveal that individuals with dementia have low blood levels of vitamin C.
A positive effect on memory and thinking has been found in those with high vitamin C intake from supplements or food.
Vitamin C supplements can guard against conditions such as dementia if you can’t consume enough from your regular diet. But we need more studies in order to understand the impact of vitamin C supplements on the health of the nervous system overall.
Low vitamin C levels can be connected with an increased risk of thinking and memory disorders such as dementia. A high intake of vitamin C, whether from supplements or foods, can offer protection
Unproven claims: vitamin C
Yes, vitamin C boasts many scientifically-proven benefits, but it’s also associated with many unfounded claims backed by no evidence or very weak evidence.
Check out these unproven claims regarding vitamin C:
- Preventing the common cold. Even though vitamin C appears to lower the severity of colds and boosts recovery time by eight percent in adults and 14 percent in kids, it doesn’t prevent them.
- Reducing cancer risk. Many studies link vitamin C intake to a lowered risk of many types of cancers. But most studies say vitamin C doesn’t affect cancer development risk.
- Protecting against eye disease. Vitamin C can be connected to a lowered risk of eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. But vitamin C supplements could either have no effect or could even cause harm.
- Treating lead toxicity. While those with lead toxicity seem to have low vitamin C levels, no strong evidence supports the claim that vitamin C treats lead toxicity.
- Provide energy. Some claim that vitamin C provides energy which is why it is found in energy drinks and pre workout powders but these claims have not been proven thus far.
While vitamin C certainly has many benefits that have been proven, it does not prevent the common cold, lower cancer risk, guard against eye diseases, or provide treatment of lead toxicity.
Vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin, can be obtained from your diet or from supplements. It has connections to several impressive health benefits, like its ability to boost antioxidant levels, lower blood pressure, protect against gout attacks, improve iron absorption, increase immunity, and reduce both dementia and heart disease risk.
Vitamin C supplements are an effective and simple way to increase vitamin C intake if you don’t consume enough naturally from your diet.
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