Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients.
This means that they are present in relatively small quantities but are necessary for the healthy functioning of the body.
Vitamin C is one of many nutrients that the body needs to stay healthy, but it’s far from the only one.
If you’re concerned about your health and nutrition, Annex Naturopathic, a naturopathic doctor in Toronto clinic, can work with you to help ensure that you’re getting the nutrients that you need.
In this article we’re going to discuss what vitamin C is, how you can get more of it in your diet, and the potential benefits you may gain from doing so.
What Is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is one of thirteen essential vitamins.
In terms of nutrients, essential means that your body needs them, but can’t produce them, so they must be obtained from external sources.
Vitamin C is present in dietary sources, primarily in fruits and vegetables, though many people also take vitamin C supplements to help them get the daily recommended amount.
It has a number of potential health benefits that we’ll explore in the rest of this article.
It’s also water soluble, which means it’s less likely than fat soluble vitamins to build up in the body or cause negative health effects.
Health Benefits Of Vitamin C
Like any essential nutrient, your body needs vitamin C in some amount to function properly.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of vitamin C.
1. It’s An Antioxidant
It does this by neutralizing potentially harmful substances called free radicals.
Free radicals can appear both from normal metabolic processes and from external pollutants or radiation interacting with cells.
Once within the body, free radicals react with cells in ways that can cause damage.
2. It Supports Your White Blood Cells
You may have heard that vitamin C helps stop you from getting sick, and there is some truth to this common cold-fighting claim.
Vitamin C helps to stimulate production of lymphocytes and phagocytes, which are both types of white blood cells that defend the body against infection and disease.
It also helps to prevent free radicals from damaging white blood cells, and strengthens the skin’s barriers against infection, reducing the number of threats that the immune system needs to fight.
Vitamin C can’t cure a cold, but it can help your body fight it so you start feeling better sooner, provided you take it regularly and not just when you start to feel sick.
3. May Help Manage Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a common health concern, but it can be a stubborn one to get rid of.
Vitamin C may be a helpful part of a treatment strategy to lower blood pressure.
This study, suggests a link between lower blood pressure and vitamin C.
The study analyzed a number of clinical trials and found that increased vitamin C intake, vitamin C supplement consumption, and high blood concentrations of vitamin C all had correlation with lowered blood pressure in study participants.
The results may present a promising avenue for those with high blood pressure, though it is unlikely to be a complete treatment on its own.
If you have concerns about your blood pressure, it’s a good idea to talk to your naturopathic doctor.
Vitamin C may have a positive impact and is a fairly risk-free option to try.
4. May Help Reduce Stress
Low vitamin C has been associated with a number of stress related health conditions.
In individuals who smoke, are obese, or regularly drink alcohol, vitamin C is among the first vitamins to be depleted.
The levels of vitamin C in the body are sensitive to stress responses, and so maintaining vitamin C levels may help to fight the negative health effects that stress can have on the body.
5. Improves Your Absorption Of Iron
Iron is an important mineral that your body needs to facilitate the transport of oxygen to the organs and tissues that need it, like your liver.
Different nutrients taken close together can interact with each other and change the way that they are absorbed by the body compared to one or the other alone.
In the case of iron there is research that suggests that vitamin C can help your body to better absorb it.
For people who are vegetarian or otherwise on a diet low in iron vitamin C can help to mitigate risk of iron deficiency.
6. Promotes Heart Health
Along with helping to lower blood pressure, vitamin C may also help to balance cholesterol levels in the body.
These factors combined can help keep your heart healthy and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Scientific research has shown links between vitamin C supplement consumption and lowered LDL (“bad cholesterol”) levels.
Buildup of LDL cholesterol is one of the main factors behind atherosclerosis, stroke, and a number of other heart-related health concerns.
The link between vitamin C and heart health is still being investigated but taking a vitamin C supplement is unlikely to cause you any harm in the meantime.
Symptoms Of Vitamin C Deficiency
Scurvy is a term that many people associate with sailors from a bygone era, but it’s just another term for vitamin C deficiency.
It came to be associated with sailors because it was difficult to get fresh produce on long sea voyages, and so they often had very low vitamin C levels.
It is fairly uncommon in places where fresh produce and enriched grain products are available, but it can still impact people in modern societies.
The symptoms include anemia, spontaneous bleeding, bruising, reduced healing rate, and in severe cases the loosening and loss of adult teeth.
In general, most people who suffer from scurvy make a full recovery through simple dietary changes and vitamin C supplements.
Dietary Sources Of Vitamin C
Vitamin C can be obtained from a number of dietary sources in addition to supplements.
It is readily available from most fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin C levels are especially high in:
It can also be found in some unexpected foods such as paprika, hibiscus flowers, liver, and oysters.
Book An Appointment With Annex Naturopathic
Health and nutrition can be complicated.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of vitamin C deficiency, or of conditions that vitamin C may help with, but increasing your intake doesn’t help, there may be other factors at play.
If you haven’t been feeling your best, and you’re concerned about your health, finding solutions can be daunting.
Fortunately, you don’t need to do it alone.
Book an appointment with Annex Naturopathic to sort out your nutritional and health concerns and get back on track to feeling your best.