Of the seemingly endless supplements in the nutrition world, none is more common and misunderstood than vitamin C. While it’s best known for its use in fighting colds, vitamin C is capable of so much more, and you should be reaching for it every day, instead of just when you’re feeling under the weather. Let’s take a closer look at vitamin C and the role it plays in your daily life.
What is Vitamin C?
Alternately known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is an essential nutrient, which means that your body is incapable of producing it on its own. The only way to get vitamin C is through your diet, either via dietary supplements or in foods naturally rich in vitamin C. Ascorbic acid is also water-soluble, meaning it dissolves in water. This basically means that once you have reached your body’s vitamin C threshold, any excess is excreted from your body via urine and sweat.
The Benefits of Vitamin C
Vitamin C offers a wealth of benefits to nearly all tissues and organ systems. Here are some of its most prominent benefits.
Vitamin C is known to act as a powerful antioxidant. Your cells naturally undergo oxidation from contact with oxygen, and one of the products of this reaction is free radicals. Free radicals can cause a great deal of harm and damage to cells, tissue, and even your DNA, promoting oxidative stress that can potentially contribute to chronic conditions. As an antioxidant, vitamin C can effectively neutralize free radicals to prevent cellular damage, boost your immune system, and protect your body.
Vitamin C is necessary for the production of collagen, a protein that is essential to all connective tissues, including skin, hair, muscles, and tendons. Collagen helps your skin look young, keeps your tissues strong, and plays a role in healing wounds.
Vitamin C’s antioxidant properties make it a powerful anti-inflammatory. This may help to ease digestive issues related to inflammation. The vitamin’s collagen-building potential also make it essential for supporting the tissues that make up the lining in your stomach and intestines.
Iron is a mineral that performs a variety of functions. It is mainly known as a component of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen throughout your body. Vitamin C naturally improves absorption of this mineral and converts iron into a more easily absorbed form, ensuring that your tissues and organs receive plenty of oxygen.
Perhaps vitamin C’s most well-known benefit is its positive effect on the immune system. Along with its antioxidant properties, vitamin C has been shown to encourage the production of lymphocytes and phagocytes, a type of white blood cells that assist in fighting off infections and healing tissue.
Studies suggest that vitamin C plays a role in the production of several mood-regulating neurotransmitters, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. This explains why lower than normal vitamin C levels may result in feelings of depression and general irritability, though more research is necessary to understand vitamin C’s role in mood and mental health.
Sources of Vitamin C
You can get vitamin C from supplements, but it is readily available in several foods. Oranges and citrus fruits are perhaps the most popular sources of vitamin C, but you can also get the vitamin from:
- Red and green peppers
- Brussels sprouts
Recommended Daily Intake
Intake recommendations, as provided by the Food and Nutrition Board, vary by age and gender. Generally, adult men, age 19 or older, should get about 90 milligrams of vitamin C per day. Women 19 or older should get about 75 milligrams. However, pregnant women should take about 85 milligrams per day, while women who are breastfeeding should get about 120 milligrams per day.
Too Much and Too Little
Taking too much vitamin C should not pose a problem for most people. As mentioned, vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient, so any excess will leave your body naturally. Some people who do take megadoses of vitamin C may experience:
- Abdominal cramps
- Gastrointestinal discomfort
Vitamin C deficiencies are relatively rare given the availability of fresh produce and the fact that many modern foods are often enriched with vitamin C. If you are eating a diverse diet and in otherwise good health, you shouldn’t have any problems. Vitamin C deficiency can result in a compromised immune system, anemia, and general fatigue. Severe vitamin C deficiency is known as scurvy. This is characterized by bleeding gums, easy bruising, and dry, bumpy skin that is easily damaged. Remember that vitamin C plays an integral role in the synthesis of collagen. Without vitamin C, you are unable to create enough collagen to maintain healthy skin or even heal wounds.
Sovereign Laboratories offers a unique, high-quality vitamin C supplement to ensure you get your daily recommended amount of nutrient. Vital C-LD® is liposome-encapsulated so that more vitamin actually reaches the intestines where it is absorbed into the bloodstream. With liposomal delivery (LD), about 50% is absorbed; without liposomal delivery, only about 8% is absorbed. To learn more, visit Sovereign Laboratories today.