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Vitamin C and its many benefits

I used to take Vitamin C only after I got a cold or felt sick. Now I take a different approach, a preventative approach of looking after my body and its defences as best I can. Vitamin C supplements and general intake is key to so many functions in the body. I am here to share some of its significant benefits. 

Vitamin C has long been associated with the immune system and the go to when you get a cold​​. However, there are an array of benefits that vitamin C has and key functions which it supports within your body. Making it a very important vitamin to stay topped up on!

Vitamin C, which is also known as ascorbic acid, cannot be made within the body. Nor can it be stored within your body- meaning to keep your levels sufficient, ascorbic acid needs to be consumed on a daily basis. It falls under the category of essential nutrients. This is because it is essential for normal physiological function within your body, but the body cannot produce it. Health, growth, and disease prevention are all dependent on essential nutrients, such as vitamin C.

If you are looking to get your vitamin C content up through your diet, look out for citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit. Other great sources include peppers, strawberries, blackcurrants, broccoli and brussels sprouts. 

The NRV, or nutrient reference value, for Vitamin C is 80mg. This is an EU guideline on the daily amount of vitamin c required to avoid a deficiency, for the average healthy person.

Vitamin C & Immunity

Vitamin C is commonly associated with immunity, and for good reason. I still remember when I was at school being told to drink a carton of orange juice when I had a cold- now I realise it was to give me a boost of Vitamin C levels. Studies of Vitamin C supplements have shown they reduce the symptoms and severity of a cold. They also have shown to reduce the duration of the cold.

Why is Vitamin C linked with immunity? Vitamin C is integral to many parts of the immune system, specifically in the functioning of immune cells. A vitamin C deficiency can weaken the immune system and increase the chances of infection.

Vitamin C is commonly found in white blood cells. White blood cells are a critical part of the body’s immune system. They support the body to fight infection and other diseases.The immune system, for instance, relies on T-lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. Vitamin C keeps these cells alive and operational.

Vitamin C- an antioxidant fighting disease

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidant is a term we often hear, but what does it mean? When the body detects free radicals, an antioxidant donates an electron and neutralises the free radical, reducing its ability to damage the body.

Why should we get rid of free radicals? Free radicals are atoms or molecules with an odd number of electrons. Free radicals are not all bad though, our body needs certain amounts of them as they play an important role in many biological activities within the body, such as cell division. They also help cells talk to each other and they help your body defend against infection. 

If free radicals overwhelm the body’s ability to regulate them, a condition known as oxidative stress occurs. Oxidative stress has been linked to the development of many illnesses, such as cancer, Alzheimers, diabetes, inflammatory disorders and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Therefore, antioxidants such as vitamin C, are so important to keep your body strong. Consuming more vitamin C, studies show, can increase your antioxidant levels significantly. As a result, it supports your body to fight inflammation and oxidative stress. Speaking of antioxidants, you should also checkout Rutin if you've never done so before! They are powerful together.

Vitamin C and wound healing 

Vitamin C is involved in many phases of wound healing and research shows that Vitamin C can increase the speed of wound healing. Vitamin C is essential for the synthesis, secretion and breaking down of collagen. Collagen is a family of proteins that form the main component in our skin. It’s the building blocks and glue that keep our skin cells together. For our bodies to create collagen, vitamin C must be present for collagen to form.

Vitamin C & collagen

As mentioned, Vitamin C’s ability to aid wound healing is in part down to its important role in the production of collagen. When I hear collagen, I automatically associate it with the skin, however it goes much further than that.

Vitamin C is necessary for the body to produce collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, found in the bones, muscles, skin, and tendons.

Collagen forms a scaffold that provides strength and structure within the body. It is an vital component of connective tissue and plays a key role in holding the body’s cells together. It also gives strength and elasticity to the skin.

Collagen, a special protein, makes up the important structural components of our bodies. Long, chain-like molecules form to support tissues like skin, ligaments, tendons, bones, and internal organs. Collagen production keeps our skin stretchy and elastic, allows us to heal after injury, and keeps our joints strong and flexible as we move our bodies.

Vitamin C is necessary for collagen production, and vitamin C deficiency can lead to collagen destabilization and a weakened structure of the protein. Collagen dependent on vitamin C – without it, collagen would lose its strength, and the rate of synthesis would decrease significantly. Research has proven that collagen-producing cells replicate much quicker in the presence of vitamin C compared to cells without vitamin C. The relationship between collagen, vitamin C, and healing is not just limited to the skin. There is evidence to suggest that vitamin C supplementation results in increased collagen synthesis and accelerated healing after bone fractures.

Vitamin C and your brain

There is evidence that oxidative stress and inflammation near the brain, spine, and nerves (together called the central nervous system) can increase the risk of dementia, according to studies. As Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which counteracts oxidative stress, it can help to reduce this impact. There have also been links between low levels of vitamin c and struggles with memory and brain clarity. Furthermore, research has shown links between those with dementia having lower levels of vitamin C in their blood. 

As you grow older, a benefit of higher levels of vitamin c, is the support it provides on your memory and clarity of your brain. Even if there is more research needed, it is clear that lower levels of vitamin C are linked with a poorer functioning of your memory and thought process. But it's also important to understand, you can also take too much vitamin C as well