Vitamin C (or ascorbic acid) is an essential vitamin for maintaining the immune system. It has an essential role in the synthesis of collagen – the protein responsible for the composition of nails, bones, hair and by “holding” our cells together in place. It is also a powerful antioxidant and a water-soluble vitamin. Vitamin C is not stored in our body. The unabsorbed amount is always discarded and, therefore, needs to be replenished periodically through foods or supplements, since humans cannot synthesize it internally.
In addition to boosting overall health by its antioxidant effect, vitamin C still has functions that can help in weight loss and muscle gain.
Benefits Of Vitamin C For Your Health:
The main benefits of vitamin C are obtained through its antioxidant properties. Through these properties, vitamin C can neutralize the effects of free radicals, substances naturally produced by the human body and causing damages in several structures, responsible for many chronic and degenerative diseases, such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Protection against cardiovascular diseases
Also due to its antioxidant functions, Vitamin C works against the accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries, so that arteriosclerosis and arterial hypertension are avoided or alleviated by healthy levels of vitamin C. This property dramatically decreases the risk of developing diseases such as myocardial infarction.
The eyes are severely attacked by free radicals by their constant and intense exposure to light. In this sense, they are especially benefited by the protection of vitamin C, whose antioxidant properties avoid diseases like a cataract.
Skin, hair, and nails
The antioxidant functions also work in favor of our beauty, combating the undesirable effects of aging especially on the skin. The degradation of the skin is delayed by healthy levels of vitamin C so that the wrinkles take longer to appear. As vitamin C is able to increase the production of collagen, toned skin is a direct effect of healthy levels of vitamin C. In the aesthetic scope, vitamin C is still responsible for the production of proteins important for hair and nails.
This is the most well-known effect of the vitamin C. Even though vitamin C is not a magical substance that totally prevents illnesses like influenza, its functions in maintaining a strong immune system are essential.
It is important to note, however, that although consumption of vitamin C during a cold or flu illness will help alleviate the disease, the benefit to the immune system occurs more significantly in the long run with regular consumption of optimal levels of the vitamin.
Combating the stress effects
The vitamin C can cause a decrease in levels of cortisol, a hormone stimulated by stress and that is responsible for many harmful effects. Although the reduction of stress is indispensable. Good levels of vitamin C can certainly relieve its negative consequences.
Regulation of metabolism
Vitamin C also regulates various aspects of metabolism. The most significant is the absorption of iron and the control of blood sugar levels. Thus, vitamin C contributes to healthy levels of these nutrients in the blood, benefiting patients with anemia and people with diabetes.
Low blood sugar levels work by themselves for weight loss as the body burns fats. More than that, though: Low sugar levels prevent excessive stimulation to the production of insulin, a hormone that causes fat accumulation.
There are benefits of vitamin C in relation to two very important factors for those looking to lose weight. First, it has been found that the amount of fat burned during exercise is higher in people with good levels of vitamin C. The second one is the fact that there is considerable evidence that lack of vitamin C hinders the loss of abdominal fat, making harder to lose as weight and it is more dangerous to health.
It is necessary, however, to say that vitamin C does not cause weight loss. These effects will only be significant if accompanied by a significant daily calorie deficit.
Gain muscle mass
Healthy levels of vitamin C certainly help in gaining muscle mass. First of all, we should consider the positive effects of the antioxidant functions of vitamin C, which protects the muscles from free radicals, which are released in great quantity after the muscular resistance training.
Also after training, vitamin C helps to decrease pain in the muscles after a heavy workout. More important, though, are the benefits of vitamin C in lowering levels of the Cortisol hormone. Low levels of Cortisol help increase the levels of testosterone, an essential hormone for muscle growth.
However, caution and moderation with vitamin C are recommended. There is evidence to believe that high levels of this vitamin, obtained through supplementation, may decrease the performance during training.
After reading about the importance that vitamin C for your health, it is easy to be motivated to keep it in your diet, but the advantages do not stop there.
Benefits Of Vitamin C For Your Hair.
Strengthening the hair
Vitamin C strengthens and may even prevent hair loss, which is not surprising considering its cell repair properties and the fact that it increases iron absorption. Vitamin C deficiency can damage the hair, thinning it and creating split ends.
The antioxidant action of this vitamin prevents the scaling and irritation of the scalp and on top promotes a “cleaning” since ascorbic acid eliminates the shampoo residues in the hair.
Increase in collagen
As already mentioned, this vitamin helps to synthesize collagen, and this is perhaps the most significant benefit of vitamin C for hair since collagen plays a key role in the hair structure.
Adding vitamin C permanently to your diet can give your hair more brightness. This is because it closes the cuticle of the hair, which makes the light reflect better on it, and helps in maintaining the natural color of the hair.
Vitamin C in creams and shampoos has a moisturizing effect, due to the presence of hydroxyl in its composition, which attracts water molecules. Say goodbye to the dry threads!
The use of beauty products with vitamin C certainly helps, but the best source of vitamin C is food that, in addition to improving the appearance of the hair, benefits the whole body. You can get your daily dose of this vitamin through fruits like strawberry, papaya, orange, and lemon. If you want to know more about foods that make your hair grow, you can check this post.
If for some reason, you fail to implement enough vitamin C in the diet, supplements are a good idea!
How Much Vitamin C Is Enough?
The minimum required vitamin C dosage varies with age, sex, and other factors. In children and adolescents, the required dosage increases with growth, ranging from 15mg per day to 65mg per day. In adult men, the minimum dosage is 90mg per day, while for adult women 75mg per day is enough.
Certain conditions, however, require larger dosages. Pregnant women, for example, need 85mg per day, an amount that increases to 120mg per day when women are breastfeeding. For smokers, the minimum level may be much higher, varying according to the intensity of smoking.
However, higher dosages may boost the benefits of vitamin C. Research on this is still very cautious, it estimates that a dosage of 500mg per day is safe. It is important to note, however, that vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, and therefore can’t be stored by the body as fat-soluble vitamins. In this way, obtaining daily necessities is necessary.
Effects of Vitamin C Deficiency
Effective vitamin C deficiency is rare in healthy, well-nourished people. However, a severe deficiency may arise in cases of illness, malnutrition or extremely poor diet. In these cases, the symptoms vary according to the intensity and duration of deprivation.
The first notable symptoms are muscle weakness and progressive anemia since vitamin C is important for the absorption of iron. These symptoms are accompanied by a general weakening in the immune system, so diseases such as colds and flu become frequent and may have more severe symptoms. Aesthetic effects are remarkable in hair, which becomes dry and brittle, and on the skin, which can become extremely dry.
Joint pains are also often observed. The effects of vitamin C on relieving stress symptoms are also missed so the feeling of fatigue and moodiness can increase significantly.
In cases of severe deprivation of vitamin C, bleeding gums and wounds that do not heal can appear. Finally, it is possible even teeth loss.
Where to find Vitamin C?
Most people have no problems in finding vitamin C. Many of their natural sources are widely known, especially citrus fruits like orange and lemon. There are, however, other fruits that serve as a source of vitamin C, such as kiwi, mango, papaya, and pineapple. Berries, like strawberry and blackberries, are also rich in vitamin C as well as watermelons.
The sources of vitamin C are not only fruits. Numerous vegetables have significant levels, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. You can get vitamin C also from tomatoes and pumpkin.
14 Foods Rich In Vitamin C
Supplementation of Vitamin C
Supplementation with vitamin C can help in the daily intake of healthy amounts, mainly if you need to reach the high levels of 500mg per day. However, you should note that supplements are not as good as the natural sources. Even if supplementation is required to obtain high levels, it is recommended to get the most from foods.
Vitamin C Overdose
The effects of too much vitamin C can vary from person to person, depending on the sensitivity. No one should take more than 2000mg per day, to avoid the risk of several unpleasant and harmful symptoms.
The symptoms are not very dangerous since the body eliminates excess vitamin C easily. However, people affected by an overdose of vitamin C may experience indigestion, often accompanied by nausea and diarrhea. Fatigue and insomnia are also frequent effects of excessive consumption of vitamin C.
More serious problems can happen in people who already suffer from certain diseases. Anyone who has a history of kidney stones should limit their consumption of vitamin C since too high levels can worsen the problem. People suffering from very high levels of iron in the body should also avoid high levels of vitamin C. Otherwise they may be at risk of taking the disease to critical levels.