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Vitamin C (aka L-ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble vitamin naturally available in foods and fortified in some. The human body can not produce vitamin C endogenously and so it must be sought out in the diet.
Vitamin C is required for the biosynthesis of collagen to make your skin softer, stretchier and smoother, L-carnitine for energy metabolism, as well as serving its role in many neurotransmitter pathways. Collagen plays a vital role in connective tissue and wound healing. If you’re suffering from joint pain, there is a chance you could need more vitamin C in your diet. Vitamin C is also a very potent antioxidant, which has the ability to regenerate other antioxidants such as alpha-tocopherol (vit E). Vit C play an important role in limiting the damage caused by free radicals and can in turn delay certain chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and even cancer.
Vitamin C seems to be the miracle vitamin that everyone turns to when they are sick, this is somewhat true. Vitamin C also has a large role in the immune system and also assists in the absorption of non-heme iron (plant based iron). Of course, a deficiency in vitamin C will lead to scurvy which is why our explorer friends took tons of oranges with them when traveling.
Vitamin C benefits summary:
- Immune boosting benefits – boost production of antibodies, raises interferon levels in animals acting as anti-viral defence mechanisms, repairs and protect cells for wound healing, antihistamine action which lessens the unpleasantries of colds such inflammation, blocked noses and aches. A boost of vitamin C plays a big role in reducing the severity and duration of a cold, a vitamin C supplement may halve the risk of catching a cold and speed up recovery too (only if you exercise, if you’re a couch potato… get exercising!!)
- Antioxidant action – Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant which protects the body from free radicals which cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been linked to a range of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and even cancer. Having adequate volumes of Vit c may minimise chronic disease risk.
- Skin benefits – Vitamin C is vital for building and maintaining collagen and connective tissue. This helps maintain skin elasticity, plumpness, and firmness. Collagen and connective tissue provides structural support and strengthens muscles, teeth, bones, skin and blood vessels, so by maintaining the right amounts of Vitamin C you minimise damage to these areas as well as providing the ingredients required for long term joint and muscular health. When you stress, the cortisol released triggers inflammation which breaks down collagen resulting in visible deterioration in your complexion.
- Protection for smokers – Smoking causes an insane amount of damage to the lungs, although you may not feel the damage, every puff of a cigarette will cause massive amounts of damage to your body. The inhaled free radicals will trigger inflammation and cause damage leading to the depletion of your serum Vitamin C levels. Smoking causes massive damage to blood vessels, this increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Vitamin C is not the saving grace for smokers but it does offer a boost of protection, the best way to reduce the risk of smoking-related diseases is to cut out smoking completely.
- Iron absorption – Iron is the main carrier of oxygen in the blood, eating Vitamin C (either through food or a supplement) after a meal will assist in the body’s absorption of iron.
- Stress mitigation – We are surrounded by stress every day, at work, at home, when traveling, the food we eat and even the environment. Constantly raised cortisol levels and exposure to free radicals result in the depletion of Vitamin C. Vitamin C acts as a potent free radical scavenger which mops up free radicals, so putting 1+1 together, the more free radicals present, the less Vitamin C you will have in your body.
- Vitamin E preservation – Vitamin C serves to restore Vitamin E’s antioxidant ability after it has conducted its job to ‘heal’ free radicals.
Vitamin C RDI for both men and women over the age of 18 is 45mg/day. During pregnancy and lactation, it is recommended to increase vitamin c intake to 60mg/day and 85mg/day respectively.
Top 10 vitamin C food sources:
1. Raw red peppers
2. Organic fresh orange juice
3. Organic orange
4. Fresh organic grapefruit juice
6. Raw green pepper
7. Cooked broccoli
8. Fresh strawberries
9. Cooked Brussel sprouts
Boiling vegetables will usually lead to the loss of Vit C content, instead steam it to keep as much in as possible.
Supplementation Advice: Search for Vitamin C in mixed mineral ascorbate form as that is the most bioavailable and having a mix of mineral ascorbates extend the duration of vitamin c in the blood serum thus providing longer function. Look for a supplement which is high quality, and follows the pharmaceutical GMP standard.
To see/purchase the GMP pharmaceutical grade, NSF, TGA, FDA, Informed Choice and potency guaranteed approved products that I have trusted for my personal supplementation for the last 15 years, click here.
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