February 01 2021
Now in this article you will learn about four of the main ways that vitamin C benefits the body.
Prevention of iron deficiencies by improving absorption of iron
Iron is an important nutrient that has a variety of functions. It is vital for making red blood cells and transporting oxygen throughout the body. Now interestingly, vitamin C can help improve the absorption of iron from the diet. It aids in converting iron, that is poorly absorbed, including plant-based sources of iron, into a form that is easier to absorb. This is especially useful for people on a meat-free diet as meat is one of our main sources of iron.
Now what's interesting is if you just eat 100 milligrams of vitamin C with an iron containing food it can increase the absorption of that iron by up to 70%. As a result we know that vitamin C supplementation can reduce the risk of anemia and people prone to iron deficiency.
Fights heart disease risk factors, potentially lowering heart disease risk
Many factors increase risk of heart disease including high blood pressure, high LDL or bad cholesterol, low levels of HDL, good cholesterol and high triglyceride levels. Vitamin C may help reduce these factors which may reduce heart disease risk. For instance, an analysis of nine studies, with a combined total of almost 300,000 participants found that after a decade, individuals who took at least 700 milligrams of vitamin C every day had a 25% lower risk of heart ailments than those who did not take a vitamin C supplement.
Interestingly, another analysis of 15 studies found that consuming vitamin C only from foods, not supplements, was linked to a lower risk of heart disease. However, scientists are unsure if people who consumed vitamin C-rich foods also followed a healthier lifestyle than people who took the supplement. So therefore, it's not really clear if the differences were due to vitamin C or other aspects of the diet. It seems like if you consume 500 milligrams or more per day of a vitamin C supplement it can reduce your risk of heart disease if you have those risk factors. However, if you already eat a diet rich in vitamin C then it seems like it won't make much difference.
Boosts immunity by helping white blood cells function better
Moving on to the immune benefits of vitamin C. Now, vitamin C does a lot of different things but its influence on your immune system is quite amazing. Vitamin C deficiencies are actually very common, you can have what's known as a subclinical vitamin C deficiency; where, you're not majorly deficient but you're just deficient enough to cause a weakness within the immune system. Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient so it has a low storage capacity. So, unless you're constantly getting vitamin C you can be deficient within weeks.
And being a very powerful antioxidant, when you have free radicals which are basically molecules with unpaired electrons that can damage certain things in the body vitamin C comes in the picture and donates an electron to stabilize the molecule. So it can actually help counter free radical damage. As far as immune benefits, it can enhance antibodies which are proteins that fight pathogen microbes that shouldn't be in your body while also increasing neutrophil motility which are a type of white blood cell that engulfs and kills certain microbes.
It also enhances your B cells or B lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell which then increases antibodies we've already mentioned before.
Then, it also enhances the t-cells, another type of lymphocyte that helps you fight off infection. It can increase interferon hormone that kills infected cells and their surrounding neighbors making it a very powerful. Moreover, studies have also shown that taking vitamin C may shorten wound healing time.
Reduce blood uric acid levels and help prevent gout attacks
Gout is a type of painful arthritis like really painful arthritis that affects about 4% of the US population. Gout symptoms appear when there's too much uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is a waste material produced by one's body. At high levels, it may crystallize and deposit in the joints. Interestingly, numerous studies have revealed that vitamin C may help lower uric acid in the blood and as a result, protect against gout attacks. For example, this study followed almost 50,000 health men over 20 years to see if vitamin C intake was linked to developing gout. Now interestingly, people who took a vitamin C supplement had a 44% lower gout risk. Additionally, an analysis of 13 clinical studies found that taking a vitamin C supplement over 30 days significantly reduced blood uric acid compared to placebo. Although the authors did conclude that future trials are needed to determine whether vitamin C supplementation can reduce hyperuricemia which is high uric acid levels, or prevent incident and recurrent gout. Ultimately, vitamin C is very important for your health and the majority of us do get enough from a healthy diet. That said, if you are at risk of iron deficiency, if you have a weak immune system or if you experience recurrent gout attacks then I would definitely consider vitamin C supplementation.