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Vitamin C: Health Benefits, Dosage And Side Effects

Vitamin C, also referred to as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin present in various food sources like strawberries, spinach, bell peppers, etc. It is an antioxidant that prevents the harmful effects of free radicals in the body [1] . The human body cannot produce this vitamin by itself, making it an essential dietary component.

Vitamin C does much more than preventing the common cold; it protects against cardiovascular diseases, cancer, eye diseases, prenatal health issues, skin issues and so on.

This vitamin also plays a major role in the production of collagen, L-carnitine and some neurotransmitters. Vitamin C aids in better iron absorption which helps combat nutritional iron deficiency anaemia [2] .

Health Benefits Of Vitamin C

1. Prevents cataracts

According to the American Optometric Association, vitamin C reduces the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. It supports the health of blood vessels in the eye. A study published in The Journal Of Nutrition claims that vitamin C has the ability to lower the risk of cataracts [3] .

2. Protects the heart

Vitamin C can keep heart diseases at bay by strengthening the arteries and preventing plaque build-up. A daily dose of vitamin C stops the activity of a protein called endothelin-1, which constricts the small blood vessels, thereby increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke [4] . Adequate amounts of vitamin C lower high cholesterol levels in the blood as well.

3. Regulates blood pressure

One of the benefits of vitamin C is it helps treat hypertension (high blood pressure). According to a study, the amount of vitamin C needed to reduce blood pressure should be 500 milligrams per day [5] . Furthermore, vitamin C protects the body's level of nitric oxide, which helps to relax the blood vessels.

4. Fights stress

Vitamin C is beneficial to people with a weak immune system which occurs due to high stress levels. This vitamin lowers the effect of both psychological and physical effects of stress on people. When the body is stressed out, the hormone cortisol is increased rapidly and the intake of vitamin C is said to lower cortisol levels [6] .

5. Prevents cancer

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help in treating cancer because it protects the body against oxidative stress and aids in preventing the oxidation of other molecules. According to a study, high doses of vitamin C have been found to inhibit the growth of some types of cancerous tissues [7] . Another 2015 study showed that vitamin C can be used in the treatment of cancer [8] .

6. Reduces the severity of colds

Vitamin C doesn't cure a common cold, but it surely prevents the severity of cold and its complications such as lung infection and pneumonia. According to a 2013 review in Finland, a daily 1,000 to 2,000 mg dose of vitamin C shortens the duration of cold by up to 12% in adults and 21% in children [9] .

7. Helps with diabetes management

Vitamin C aids in managing type 2 diabetes. Research study has shown that this vitamin boosts blood flow and protects the arteries from the damage caused by high blood sugar levels [10] . Patients with diabetes will experience less kidney, eyes and nerve damage if they consume plenty of foods rich in vitamin C.

8. Boosts immunity

Vitamin C stimulates the immune system and strengthens it. It promotes the body's resistance against pathogens and supports various cellular functions of the immune system. A vitamin C deficiency results in weak immunity and makes you highly susceptible to infections [11] .

In addition, vitamin C reduces histamine, a substance that causes inflammation and allergies.

9. Prevents anaemia

Vitamin C helps in better absorption of iron from the foods you consume. It makes iron easier to adsorb from plant-based food sources. As a result, vitamin C lowers the risk of anaemia among people who are prone to iron deficiency [12] .

10. Improves memory

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and low levels of this vitamin have been linked to poor memory and thinking ability. Studies have shown that people with dementia have less vitamin C in their blood [13] and higher levels of vitamin C protect the brain associated with memory and thinking [14] .

11. Heals wounds and infections

Vitamin C is associated with the quicker healing of wounds and infections, thus accelerating the healing process of burns and wounds. The high antioxidant content in vitamin C helps in treating burn lesions. A high dosage of vitamin C reduces capillary leakage when exposed to burns. The vitamin also aids the growth of new tissues and skin [15] .

12. Improves skin texture

Vitamin C helps in collagen synthesis, which provides the structure for blood vessels under the skin which carry oxygen and nutrients to keep the skin healthy. Vitamin C boosts the formation of elastin, helps retain moisture, improves blood circulation, and delays skin ageing [16] .

13. Boosts hair growth

Deficiency of vitamin C may be the root cause of several hair-related problems such as split ends, dry hair, and hair fall. The free radicals formed in our body may be responsible for thinning of hair and interrupting hair growth. The high antioxidants present in vitamin C reduce the formation of free radicals and reduce their impact on the body. People with healthy vitamin C levels are generally seen to have thick, healthy hair [17] .

Recommended Daily Intake Of Vitamin C

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that men should get 90 mg per day and women should get 75 mg per day of vitamin C.

However, people who are under stress need more vitamin C than the recommended daily allowance which includes diabetics, smokers, alcoholics, pregnant or breastfeeding women, athletes, older adults, and people with chronic diseases who experience environmental stress from heat, cold or radiation.

What Happens If You Have Too Much Vitamin C

A high intake of over 1,000 mg per day of vitamin C can lead to diarrhoea and gastrointestinal discomfort.

Ways To Add More Vitamin C Into Your Diet

  • Eat foods rich in vitamin C like green peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, citrus fruits, papaya, watermelon, mango, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.
  • Add puréed or grated fruits and vegetables in soups.
  • Add dark lettuce, tomatoes, and broccoli in your salads and sandwiches.
  • Incorporate fresh berries to pancakes, cereals, and muffins.
View Article References
  1. [1] Padayatty, S. J., Katz, A., Wang, Y., Eck, P., Kwon, O., Lee, J. H., ... & Levine, M. (2003). Vitamin C as an antioxidant: evaluation of its role in disease prevention.Journal of the American college of Nutrition,22(1), 18-35.
  2. [2] Lynch, S. R., & Cook, J. D. (1980). Interaction of vitamin C and iron.Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences,355(1), 32-44.
  3. [3] Valero, M. P., Fletcher, A. E., De Stavola, B. L., Vioque, J., & Alepuz, V. C. (2002). Vitamin C is associated with reduced risk of cataract in a Mediterranean population.The Journal of nutrition,132(6), 1299-1306.
  4. [4] Moser, M. A., & Chun, O. K. (2016). Vitamin C and Heart Health: A Review Based on Findings from Epidemiologic Studies.International journal of molecular sciences,17(8), 1328.
  5. [5] Oregon State University. (1999, December 21). Vitamin C Can Reduce High Blood Pressure, Study Finds.ScienceDaily.
  6. [6] Brody, S., Preut, R., Schommer, K., & Schürmeyer, T. H. (2002). A randomized controlled trial of high dose ascorbic acid for reduction of blood pressure, cortisol, and subjective responses to psychological stress.Psychopharmacology,159(3), 319-324.
  7. [7] Yun, J., Mullarky, E., Lu, C., Bosch, K. N., Kavalier, A., Rivera, K., ... & Muley, A. (2015). Vitamin C selectively kills KRAS and BRAF mutant colorectal cancer cells by targeting GAPDH.Science,350(6266), 1391-1396.
  8. [8] Hoffer, L. J., Robitaille, L., Zakarian, R., Melnychuk, D., Kavan, P., Agulnik, J., … Miller, W. H., Jr (2015). High-dose intravenous vitamin C combined with cytotoxic chemotherapy in patients with advanced cancer: a phase I-II clinical trial.PloS one,10(4), e0120228.
  9. [9] Hemilä, H., & Chalker, E. (2013). Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold.Cochrane database of systematic reviews, (1).
  10. [10] Afkhami-Ardekani, M., & Shojaoddiny-Ardekani, A. (2007). Effect of vitamin C on blood glucose, serum lipids & serum insulin in type 2 diabetes patients.Indian Journal of Medical Research,126(5), 471.
  11. [11] Carr, A. C., & Maggini, S. (2017). Vitamin C and Immune Function.Nutrients,9(11), 1211.
  12. [12] Hallberg, L., Brune, M., & Rossander, L. (1989). The role of vitamin C in iron absorption.International journal for vitamin and nutrition research. Supplement= Internationale Zeitschrift fur Vitamin-und Ernahrungsforschung. Supplement,30, 103-108.
  13. [13] Charlton, K. E., Rabinowitz, T. L., Geffen, L. N., & Dhansay, M. A. (2004). Lowered plasma vitamin C, but not vitamin E, concentrations in dementia patients.JOURNAL OF NUTRITION HEALTH AND AGING,8(2), 99-108.
  14. [14] Paleologos, M., Cumming, R. G., & Lazarus, R. (1998). Cohort study of vitamin C intake and cognitive impairment.American journal of epidemiology,148(1), 45-50.
  15. [15] Ringsdorf Jr, W. M., & Cheraskin, E. (1982). Vitamin C and human wound healing.Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology,53(3), 231-236.
  16. [16] Pullar, J. M., Carr, A. C., & Vissers, M. (2017). The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health.Nutrients,9(8), 866.
  17. [17] Almohanna, H. M., Ahmed, A. A., Tsatalis, J. P., & Tosti, A. (2018). The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review.Dermatology and therapy,9(1), 51–70.

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