Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is important for many functions in the body. Although it takes pride of place in many immune-boosting supplements, its effect on our health goes far beyond preventing seasonal sniffles. Vitamin C is a complex and powerful nutrient that is essential for our bodies to grow and thrive.
Vitamin C is one of the safest and most effective nutrients, experts say. Though it may not be the cure for the common cold, the benefits of vitamin C may include protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling. The tolerable upper intake level (or the maximum amount you can take in a day that likely won’t cause harm) is 2000 mg a day for adults.
Research shows that vitamin C may offer health benefits in these areas:
Periodontal disease, also referred to as periodontitis or gum disease, is a condition in which the gums and bone that surround the teeth become severely inflamed. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, individuals who suffer from periodontitis are more likely to be deficient in vitamin C. Ascorbic acid supplementation has also been linked to lower risk of developing gum disease, as well as better treatment outcomes.
Vitamin C could also play an important role in brain health. As described in the Nutrients journal, this micronutrient helps maintain integrity and function of the central nervous system. Vitamin C ensures that our neurons work properly and that the transmission of signals across our body goes without interruption.
The evidence is emerging that vitamin C may play a role in eye health. As reported in the Nutrients journal, the last decade has seen a lot of progress in understanding how this micronutrient may help prevent cataracts. Cataracts is a condition in which your eye lens gets clouded, progressively restricting your vision. It is the leading cause of blindness in the world. Since cataracts are heavily linked to age and type 2 diabetes, it is a growing public health concern. It has been suggested that antioxidants like vitamin C could delay the onset of this debilitating condition and improve the quality of life of those at risk.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. Dr. Sherry Ross, a gynaecologist and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, explains that it helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals that we are exposed to in the environment such as air pollution, cigarette smoke and ultraviolet light from the sun. Ascorbic acid is also needed to regenerate other antioxidants within the body, including vitamin E.
At the same time, scientists are still examining whether vitamin C, by limiting the damaging effects of free radicals, might help prevent or delay the development of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, and other diseases rooted in high levels of oxidative stress.
Tissue growth and repair
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), vitamin C is essential for the proper functioning of your connective tissues, including the skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. That’s because your body needs this micronutrient to form collagen, a type of protein that gives them structure and firmness. Vitamin C is also crucial to repairing and maintaining cartilage, bones and teeth, as well as healing wounds and forming scar tissue.
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