Vitamin C is widely known to be good for your immune system.
When you have a cold, you probably think to reach for a nice orange to get a good burst of vitamin C.
It isn’t just found in oranges, though.
And it isn’t just for when you’re sick.
Found in various common foods, vitamin C can help support memory function, decrease risk of heart disease, help maintain a healthy blood pressure, help your body absorb iron, and a whole lot more.
Here at 1stCallHealth, a preventative healthcare clinic in Washington DC, we’re all about helping you stay healthy.
After all, the best way to fight off illness is to avoid illness in the first place.
Let’s take a closer look at all the ways vitamin C helps keep your body strong and healthy.
What Is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin.
That means your body can’t produce it on its own – you need to get it from an external source.
In particular, we get vitamin C from the food we eat, or through supplementing.
It comes in different forms.
The two most common are ascorbic acid and calcium ascorbate.
But unlike fat soluble vitamins, like vitamin A or vitamin E, vitamin C is water soluble.
When you get a fat soluble vitamin, your body uses what it needs and stores the excess in your fat for later use.
With water soluble vitamins, your body uses what it needs and then flushes the rest out through your urine.
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For this reason, we constantly need to replenish our vitamin C.
But fortunately, it’s widely available in food.
Dietary Sources Of Vitamin C
When you think vitamin C, you probably think oranges and other citrus fruits.
But there are plenty of other great sources of vitamin C.
As far as fruits go, these include:
Vegetables can be great sources of vitamin C, as well.
Some of the vegetables highest in vitamin C include:
- Brussels sprouts
- Bell peppers
- Mustard greens
- White potatoes
- Sweet potatoes
- Turnip greens
What Does Vitamin C Deficiency Look Like?
Because vitamin C is necessary to collagen production, tissues in your body begin to break down if you don’t get enough of it.
Vitamin C deficiency symptoms include exhaustion, limb pain, swelling, spontaneous bleeding, tooth loss, and anemia.
Early symptoms can include irritability, lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss, and fatigue.
If not treated promptly, scurvy can cause neuropathy, fever, convulsions, jaundice, and death.
Historically, scurvy was more common because it could be difficult to access fresh foods.
It was especially common on long sailing voyages where the only available food was ocean fish, which doesn’t have much vitamin C.
Nowadays, scurvy is rare, because fresh produce and other vitamin enriched foods are more accessible.
You can prevent vitamin C deficiency by making sure to consume some form of vitamin C every day.
Can You Overdose On Vitamin C?
As we mentioned above, vitamin C is water soluble.
This means it isn’t stored in the body.
As a result, it’s difficult to overdose on vitamin C.
But it’s not impossible.
If you take too much vitamin C, it can cause health issues.
These include digestive issues and kidney problems, including kidney stones.
But it’s very difficult to get too much vitamin C only through diet.
The risk comes from supplementing with extreme amounts.
Top 5 Benefits Of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is well known as a support for your immune system.
If you’re sick, it’s common to seek out quick sources of the nutrient.
It turns out, this vitamin does so much more for your body.
Let’s take a closer look.
1. It Has Antioxidant Properties
Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage cells and cause disease.
But your body also needs them for certain things.
If there are too many of them, it can lead to a state called oxidative stress.
It has been linked to chronic illness.
Antioxidants can neutralize these free radicals, protecting your cells from them.
Vitamin C is one antioxidant that prevents damage from free radicals.
There are a number of other antioxidants as well, which we’ll cover in a future article.
2. It May Help Maintain Heart Health
If you have high blood pressure, vitamin C might help you lower it.
According to one study, vitamin C can relax the blood vessels that carry blood from your heart, lowering blood pressure.
Observational studies found a correlation between increased vitamin c intake and lower blood pressure.
But this is only the case with very high doses of vitamin C.
More research is needed to determine the specifics of how vitamin C can help with heart health, and it definitely shouldn’t be used as a replacement for heart medication.
3. It Supports Your Immune System
Vitamin C plays a vital role in immune system function.
It aids in the production of white blood cells, which are integral to protecting the body against infection.
Vitamin C helps to support the immune system by supporting cell function
As an antioxidant, vitamin C protects against free radicals, and helps your white blood cells perform more optimally.
Your skin also plays an important role in protecting against infection, and vitamin C helps to strengthen your skin by contributing to the production of collagen.
4. It Helps Your Body Absorb Iron
Vitamin C can help your body more efficiently absorb iron.
Maintaining healthy iron levels decreases risk of anemia.
Your body uses iron to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body.
You can get iron from either meat or plant based sources.
Iron from plant based sources is more difficult for your body to absorb, but vitamin C helps to turn it into a more easily absorbed form.
People who eat a plant based diet can have a more difficult time getting enough iron, but making sure you get plenty of vitamin C alongside your iron can help increase absorption and avoid iron deficiency.
5. It Can Help Manage Stress
Because vitamin C is sensitive to stress, your vitamin C levels can be indicative of your overall health, including mental health.
Vitamin C deficiency has been associated with certain stress related disorders.
Studies have found that vitamin C supplements can act like an antidepressant effect, improving mood.
Stress can have damaging effects on your body, but vitamin C can help to reduce those effects, benefitting your physical health.
Book Your Appointment With 1stCallHealth Today
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient, and helps your body function well in so many different ways.
But it’s just one ingredient in maintaining good health.
If you’re looking for an affordable primary care provider in Washington DC, we can help.
1stCallHEALTH provides affordable access to primary care services. We believe that everyone deserves affordable, high quality primary care. Our vision is to challenge the status quo, focus on the individual, and empower personal control to change the way we think about healthcare.