Vitamin C Benefits: A Popular Avenue To Better Health
If you were to stop a person at random and ask them to name a vitamin, chances are they would say vitamin C. Although such a popular vitamin, would that same person then be able to tell you which processes vitamin C benefits in our bodies?
Vitamin C is also known as ‘ascorbic acid’ and is one of the most widely recognised health supplements due to its safety and appealing flavour in both its raw and supplementary forms.
Some countries even add it to breakfast cereal!
The role of vitamin C in the body is extensive and fascinating - yet scientific evidence for its benefits as a supplement are mixed.
Historically, vitamin C deficiency is associated with the disease scurvy, which was described as early as the time of the ancient Egyptians.
More recently (if you can call the 18th century recent!) scurvy was a limiting factor in long distance sea travel, often killing large numbers of people.
A Scottish surgeon in the Royal Navy, James Lind, was the first to prove scurvy could be treated with vitamin C packed citrus fruit, in a 1753 publication.
Vitamin C benefits our bodies quickly as it is a water-soluble vitamin, which means it can enter cells directly, be tolerated at high doses, and easily excreted in excess.
Water-soluble vitamins aren’t stored in the body, and should ideally be consumed every day.
Most plants and animals are able to make their own vitamin C in-house, however humans lack a specific set of enzymes to do so.
It’s naturally found in fruits and vegetables - particularly in nutrient-dense powerhouses like red peppers, broccoli, citrus fruits, cabbage, guava, papaya, kiwifruit and kakadu plum.
Vitamin C and glucose enter the cell via the same pathway. This means diabetics may need increased vitamin C to ensure adequate amounts are absorbed, too.
Vitamin C Benefits: Science Agrees!
Science currently supports vitamin C supplementation for a range of conditions; from scurvy to the reduction/duration of colds and flus. Recently, studies have linked the increased intake of vitamin C (during chemotherapy) to a possible extension in cancer survival. Though, as research in this field is always advancing, it is still inconclusive.
However, vitamin C has so many physiological functions that the potential benefits are hard to ignore.
We need vitamin C for:
→ Wound-healing, tissue repair and the formation of collagen.
Vitamin C is often found in anti ageing and scar-healing skin products. Its role in wound-healing is complex, but may have to do with reducing inflammation and free-radical damage at the site of the wound.
Combined with the grape seed extract, acerola cherry, rosehip fruit and zinc content in Athletic Greens, vitamin C encourages the formation of new and healthy skin cells and speeds up the rate of collagen production!
→ A healthy immune system
Vitamin C stimulates white blood cell production and the release of interferons which are proteins that defend the body against viruses and cancer. The zinc, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin E, reishi and shiitake mushroom contained in the Athletic Greens formula also support this same function.
→ Decreased production of stress hormones
High doses of vitamin C suppress the release of cortisol, which (if chronically elevated) has a range of negative effects on immunity, thyroid function, digestion and sex hormone production.
Our inclusion of rhodiola, eleuthero and ashwagandha enhance the vitamin C benefits in Athletic Greens by helping decrease stress hormone production.
→ Acts as an antioxidant AND antioxidant regenerator
Vitamin C preserves vitamin E and ‘recycles’ glutathione (the body’s master antioxidant).
→ Helps manage allergic responses
By reducing the production of leukotriene - inflammatory molecules involved in the immune response.
Therapeutic Vitamin C Benefits
We now have a list of the various ways vitamin C benefits some of our basic and necessary bodily functions. This means the therapeutic benefits of this vitamin may:
→ Reduce muscle damage during exercise
Athletes who took 1 gram of vitamin C before exercising had decreased markers of muscle damage. This may be due to immune enhancement, or a reduction in the stress hormone cortisol.
→ Reduce the duration (but not symptoms) of colds and flus
→ Reduce the risk of cancer
By acting as an antioxidant, supporting the immune system, reducing inflammation and decreasing stress hormones.
→ Promote cardiovascular health
By lowering blood pressure, boosting HDL cholesterol, preventing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, increasing Nitric Oxide, lowering triglycerides and acting as an antioxidant to preserve blood vessels.
→ Increase iron absorption
Vitamin C helps the body absorb and utilise iron - which is why steak and orange juice is a very good idea!
→ Support healthy skin
Including increased collagen formation, better skin elasticity, reduced photosensitivity (making skin less likely to suffer UV damage from the sun), healing wounds, maintaining hydration and preventing wrinkles. These benefits are amplified when vitamin C is combined with other nutrients such as zinc and vitamin E.
→ Keep bones strong in old age
Studies suggest that antioxidants - and specifically vitamin C - play a role in bone remineralisation, and may be effective against diseases like osteoporosis.
→ Fight gum disease
→ Increase energy
Vitamin C supplementation helped obese people on an exercise program feel less fatigued. This may be thanks to its role in carnitine synthesis, which helps the body burn fats for fuel.
→ Boost feelings of well-being
Study participants reported feeling generally ‘better’ after taking 1 gram of vitamin C.
→ Reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms in Heroin addicts
A recent study suggested that high dose Vitamin C can seriously reduce the myriad of symptoms associated with opiate withdrawal.
Vitamin C Benefits Can Be Achieved Rapidly
Vitamin C is a fast acting vitamin.
After taking vitamin C tablets you may notice bright yellow urine the next time you use the bathroom. This is nothing to worry about but is due to the fact that vitamin C is water soluble and rapidly flushed from the system.
When looking down the barrel of your first winter cold, vitamin C can work fast and provide a noticeable improvement within a day or 2 if you keep your levels up.
It is commonly purchased in health food stores, pharmacies and supermarkets to help provide a cheap boost to the immune system and also a boost in energy levels.
Vitamin C has been included in Athletic Greens because it is one of the most important vitamins of all and most people do not consume enough naturally. Plus, because it's water soluble, it is very safe at high doses.
A daily dose is usually between 1 - 5 grams, divided into two doses.
In certain cases it can be prescribed ‘to bowel tolerance,’ which means keep taking it until you have to run to the bathroom - then you have discovered your dosage ‘threshold.’
As a side note: People with haemochromatosis - a genetic abnormality that causes the accumulation of iron - should not take vitamin C, due to the increase in iron absorption.
So next time you feel that familiar tickle in your throat or are planning a long journey by ship, remember to pack your vitamin C and to embrace that yellow wee!