Although it’s best known for as a remedy for when cold and flu season come around, vitamin C offers a wide range of benefits and is one of the most important vitamins even when you’re not suffering an upper respiratory infection. Alternately known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient that is essential, meaning that you cannot produce it on your own and can only get it from diet and supplements.
Vitamin C is known to help boost the immune system, exercise powerful antioxidant properties, and even potentially protecting your cognitive abilities, making vitamin C integral to your health, particularly as you get older. Read on to learn how you can use vitamin C for healthy aging.
Vitamin C and Your Skin
Vitamin C plays an important role in the synthesis of collagen, which is a basic protein that acts as the building block for the connective tissues throughout your body. This includes your skin, joints, bones, and muscles. Collagen is believed to constitute up to 30 percent of the body’s total protein content.
Without vitamin C, your body is unable to produce enough collagen, which has a direct effect on your skin’s elasticity and its ability to support wound healing and produce scar tissue. Some of the most common signs of aging come from a breakdown of collagen, including:
- Joint pain and degeneration
- Osteoporosis (a loss of bone density, resulting in brittle, weak bones)
A severe lack of vitamin C is known as scurvy. This deficiency is characterized by:
- Gum disease
- Tooth loss
- Bleeding sores
- Joint problems
- Reduced rate of healing
Vitamin C’s Antioxidant Properties
One of the most prominent benefits of vitamin C is its status as a powerful antioxidant. During the natural process of cell metabolism and oxidation, your cells create by-products known as free radicals. Free radicals attack other cells, tissue, and even your very DNA. Free radical accumulation can eventually result in a state known as oxidative stress, which can cause extensive cellular damage that may contribute to signs of aging and a variety of chronic diseases. For example, free radical damage also affects collagen levels.
Antioxidants are compounds that actively neutralize free radicals to protect your cells and tissues from damage. Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants, effectively stopping free radicals in their tracks.
Vitamin C is Good for the Heart
Vitamin C offers several benefits that can keep your heart health as you age. Your risk of cardiovascular problems is increased by a variety of factors, including:
- High blood pressure
- High triglyceride (fat) levels
- High levels of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol)
- Low levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol)
Studies on vitamin C’s effects on heart health are still ongoing, but research is promising. One study found that high levels of vitamin C supplementation had a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. An analysis of previous studies also found that increased vitamin C intake significantly reduced levels of LDL cholesterol and blood triglycerides. Don’t forget that vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant that can protect cardiovascular tissue and cells to prevent oxidative stress to the heart and arteries. It may also be possible that vitamin C enhances the endothelial cells that line the inside of the blood vessels, which can promote healthy blood pressure and prevent clogged arteries.
Vitamin C and Your Eyes
As you age, your eyesight naturally gets worse. While vitamin C won’t completely reverse your need for reading glasses, it can potentially promote overall eye health. Vitamin C is concentrated in all tissues of the eye, including the blood vessels within your eyes. Several studies also suggest that vitamin C can reduce the risk of cataracts.
Vitamin C has also been shown to significantly reduce the progression of age-related macular degeneration. Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in those over the age of 55 throughout the Western world. A study sponsored by the National Eye Institute suggested that supplementing with vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc could slow the progression of AMD by an estimated 25 percent and vision loss by 19 percent.
How Much Vitamin C Do You Need?
The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C developed by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine is set at 90 milligrams for adult men and 75 milligrams for adult women. However, some evidence points to consuming serving sizes as high as 500 milligrams to one full gram of vitamin C to promote benefits. Thankfully, vitamin C is generally safe for use, and thanks to its water-soluble nature, overdose is uncommon. Any excess vitamin C that cannot be stored is expelled naturally.
Vitamin C is readily available in a variety of foods, including red peppers, citrus fruits, strawberries, and broccoli. However, if you believe you could use extra vitamin C to support healthy aging, consider taking the liposomal delivery vitamin C supplement from Sovereign Laboratories.