Vitamin C Benefits
The impact of vitamins on our overall health has been studied for extended periods of time. Perhaps the most popular vitamin of all is vitamin C, which is best known for its ability to reduce the symptoms of the common cold. But the amazing properties of vitamin C are far more complex than it was previously thought. Discover the incredible benefits of vitamin C intake.
Vitamin C also known as L-ascorbic acid is a water soluble vitamin, which like all the other vitamins cannot be synthesized by our body and thus it must be obtained from food sources or dietary supplements.
The benefits of vitamin C intake have begun to be studied back in the 18th century when a group of sailor discovered that scurvy can be treated with citrus fruit. Since then, several studies have been made to examine all the effects that this vitamin can have on our health and the results were quite impressive.
Vitamin C BenefitsIt is a well known fact that vitamin C can reduce the severity of the symptoms of the common cold and prevent other complications,being a natural antihistamine. Adequate amounts of vitamin C can reduce the duration of the common cold by strengthening the immune system. It has been believed for a long time that high dosages can help prevent common cold, however this has proven to be a misconception.
Ascorbic acid has an essential role in performing several functions in the body. Vitamin C is responsible for the growth, development and the repair of all the tissues of our body. Vitamin C is vital for the for the production of collagen in our body. Collagen, an abundant protein in our body and a major component of our connective tissue cannot be produced in absence of vitamin C. Therefore, an inadequate amount of vitamin C slows down the production of collagen which also has a negative effect on our skin's elasticity, increasing the chances of premature skin aging. The skin is more susceptible to bruising as well as a result of vitamin C deficiency.
Vitamin C also enhances non-heme iron absorption. Non-heme iron is only obtained from non-meat iron sources. This is especially important for those who suffer from anemia, vegetarians and vegans or pregnant women who need higher dosages of iron. Calcium absorption is also affected by vitamin C. Ascorbic acid can prevent the calcification of soft tissue in case of calcium overload.
Recent studies have shown that vitamin C has an important role for the health of our heart by keeping cholesterol levels in check and normalizing high blood pressure. It has been found that people who have high dosages of vitamin C in their bloodstream have a significantly lower risk of stroke. Those who suffer from diabetes can also benefit from extra vitamin C. Moreover due to its antioxidant capacities ascorbic acid can prevent cataracts and reduce the risk of osteoarthritis.
Vitamin C Sources and RecommendationsVitamin C can be found in large amounts in citrus fruits, guava, papaya, mango, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, red and green sweet peppers, cantaloupe, tomato juice or red cabbage.
The recommend amounts vary according to several criteria. Non smokers should consume about 60 milligrams of vitamin C a day while those who smoke should aim to get at least 100 mg a day. Pregnant women should also try to get at least 100 mg of vitamin C and about 150 mg in the breastfeeding period.
Those who are heavy alcohol drinkers or women who are currently on oral contraceptives should also increase vitamin C intake. Ascorbic acid is very sensitive to temperature changes and as a result prolonged cooking can destroy vitamin C. Therefore, getting vitamin C trough raw food sources is highly recommended.
The most common side effects of vitamin C overdose include stomach aches, gas, diarrhea, headaches or sleep disturbances. People who suffer from iron overload or those who have kidney stones should avoid taking large amounts of vitamin C. Pregnant women should ask for medical advice before taking a vitamin C supplement.
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