Antioxidants Vitamins and Minerals

What is Vitamin C Good For? The 6 Health Benefits of Vitamin C and the List of Vitamin C Foods

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that not only is vital for our immune system but also for many other bodily functions! Read on to find out the full health benefits of vitamin C!

There are so many types of vitamins bioavailable to us. However, there’s one, in particular, that is so common that it has become not only a common household name but also a term commonly used in the medical field. You guessed it correctly: Vitamin C! In fact, this vitamin is so common that you might be chewing on one of its food sources right now! Abundant in a variety of fruits and vegetables, vitamin C is a powerful micronutrient and essential part of your everyday diet. So what exactly is vitamin C good for?

Vitamin C is actually good for many parts of our body, physiologically and pathologically. From strengthening your immune system (what it’s famous for) to reducing cholesterol levels, studies have found that vitamin C benefits many other aspects of our health, both inside and out.

A deficiency in this important vitamin can cause some serious implications to your body, notably impaired immunity, gingivitis, and anemia. Conversely, not having enough vitamin C could also set you back from a tough time fighting off illnesses and infections!

Now that you know some of the health benefits of vitamin C for our body, you must be more intrigued by its full capabilities (because I was too!). Keep reading on to learn more about the potential vitamin C health benefits and even side effects! You also will no longer have issues such as knowing the right amount of vitamin C dosage with vitamin C supplements and the ways to optimize your vitamin absorption.

Table of Content

What is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid or L-ascorbate, is a water-soluble vitamin that is found in many vegetables and fruits. It acts as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals and reduce the risk of inflammation and disease.

That’s just the general nutritional fact that many people know about. But did you know that vitamin C is also necessary for the synthesis of collagen – a protein important in the formation of connective tissue and in wound healing? Yes, you heard that right! That’s why it’s recommended to increase your daily vitamin C dosage if you have just recently met with superficial injuries.

In addition, vitamin C is needed for the production of other compounds such as certain neurotransmitters. That’s not all. Ongoing research has also unveiled a multitude of potential vitamin C health benefits, some of which include improving skin health and protecting you against certain conditions such as heart diseases.

Read on to find out the list of health benefits that vitamin C offers!

Vitamin C Health Benefits

  • Powerful Antioxidant Properties
  • Boosts Immunity
  • Prevents Scurvy
  • Helps Prevent Anemia
  • Reduces Risk of Gout
  • Protects Against Heart Diseases
  • Promotes Healthy Skin
1. Powerful Antioxidant Properties

Antioxidants are compounds that play a central role in optimal health. They help fight disease-causing reactive molecules called free radicals in our bodies. This minimizes oxidative stress and damage to your cells! Studies show that antioxidants may aid in the prevention of many chronic conditions such as heart diseases and even cancer.

Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant in the body, helping prevent the buildup of free radicals to protect your body against many chronic diseases. Vitamin C as an antioxidant could also have far-reaching benefits when it comes to disease prevention, with some studies even associating higher intake of vitamin C to decreased risk of autoimmune disorders! This explains why it’s so important to mix up the variety of whole food to obtain more antioxidants in your diet!

2. Boost Immunity
Immunity Fight Against Pathogen

If there’s one thing that vitamin C is famous for, it’d be its ability to improve immune health. In fact, loading up on vitamin C foods is often the first line of defense when you have a runny nose or a cold.

Studies have shown the benefits of consuming enough vitamin C foods. In fact, getting enough vitamin C into your body may help reduce symptoms and shorten the duration of respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold and bronchitis. (1)

3. Prevents Scurvy

What happens if you are deficient in vitamin C? The deficiency disease associated with vitamin C is known as scurvy, which is often characterized by symptoms like bleeding gums, loose teeth, and skin issues. This is because vitamin C is needed for making collagen, an important component in connective tissues. Connective tissues are essential for the structure and support of our bodies. When your gums start losing connective tissues, it loses the support it needs and thus they bleed upon gentle brushing or even recede. (2)

4. Helps Prevent Anemia
Hemoglobin In Red Blood Cells Carrying Oxygen

Anemia is a condition characterized by a lack of healthy red blood cells, resulting in symptoms like fatigue, weakness, and headaches. Although there are many potential factors that can contribute to anemia, one of the most common is a deficiency in key minerals such as vitamin B12 or iron!

So what has this got to do with vitamin C? Vitamin C can help enhance iron absorption which could prevent iron-deficiency anemia. In one study, taking 100 mg of vitamin C with a meal increased iron absorption by 67% (3)

5. Reduces Risk of Gout

A gout is a painful form of arthritis characterized by swollen and stiff joints. It’s caused by a buildup of uric acid in the joints and most commonly affects the toe and big toe.

Studies have also shown that getting more vitamin C helps protect against gout, reporting that vitamin C supplementation was able to lower levels of uric acid in the blood. This helps reduce the risk of gout flare-ups.

6. Protects Against Heart Diseases
Illustration of Heart Carrying Weights

Having a healthy and strong heart is absolutely crucial to our overall health. As one of the most important organs in our bodies, the heart works tirelessly to supply our cells with oxygen and nutrients by pumping blood through our veins.

Incorporating more vitamin C foods or supplements into your diet may help protect the overall health of your heart and prevent heart disease. Supplementing with vitamin C daily significantly reduces levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides by having antioxidant properties, widening blood vessels, and improving nitric oxide production. (4)

This could help protect against hypertension or other heart diseases.

7. Promotes Healthy Skin
Reversing Ageing By Having A Comparison

Vitamin C is a common ingredient found in a wide selection of skincare products and cosmetics. Why? Thanks to its antioxidants properties and involvement in the synthesis of collagen, vitamin C is believed to slow down skin aging and can also protect against skin damage and free radical formation caused by ultraviolet exposure. (5)

In addition, vitamin C also benefits skin lightening and hyperpigmentation by suppressing melanin production to prevent dark spots and patches. (6)

Top Vitamin C Foods

There are plenty of foods high in vitamin C, with the best sources being fresh fruits and vegetables. just take note that if you are consuming them, it’s best to consume them raw as heating and cooking these vegetables and fruits in water can destroy some of their vitamin C contents.

Here are some of the best sources of vitamin C:

  • Bell Peppers (1 cup equivalent to 120 mg)
  • Kiwi (1 cup equivalent to 164 mg)
  • Orange (1 cup equivalent to 95.8 mg)
  • Pineapple (1 cup equivalent to 78.9 mg)
  • Guava (1 cup equivalent to 376 mg)
  • Strawberries (1 cup equivalent to 89.4 mg)
  • Tomatoes (1 cup equivalent to 18.9 mg)
  • Green leafy vegetables such as kale (1 cup equivalent to 17.6 mg)

Recommended Dosage

The recommended intake of vitamin C can vary according to your age and gender. I’m not a certified dietitian but what I’ve found is a set of guidelines released by the National Institutes of Health, for the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C. (7)

Life StageRDA
Infant (0-6 months)40 mg daily
Infant (7-12 months)50 mg daily
Infant (1-3 years)15 mg daily
Early Childhood (4-8 years)25 mg daily
Late Childhood (9-13 years)45 mg daily
Adolescence (14-18 years)75 mg daily for males,
65 mg daily for females
Early Adulthood – Adult (19 years and above)90 mg daily for males,
75 mg daily for females

Individuals who smoke need an additional 35 milligrams of vitamin C daily, due to lower plasma and leukocyte vitamin C levels than nonsmokers as a result of increased oxidative stress from smoking. Women who are pregnant and breastfeeding should also increase their vitamin C intake from 85 milligrams to 120 milligrams daily.

Severe Side Effects of Having Too Much Vitamin C

Although vitamin C has an overall low toxicity risk in healthy individuals, you can still have adverse gastrointestinal side effects from an overdose of vitamin C, including cramps, nausea, and diarrhea. According to the ODS, the upper limit for vitamin C intake for adults (aged 19 years and above) is 2000 mg in males and females. In rare cases would long term intake above the recommended levels increase the risk of these negative effects such as :

  • Kidney Stones
  • Nutrient Imbalances

Doctors believe that too much vitamin C supplementation could result in a person excreting the compounds oxalate and uric acid in their urine. These compounds are linked to the formation of kidney stones. So if you have a history of kidney stones formed, do limit your vitamin C dosage within the recommended range! Having too much vitamin C above the recommended dosage for a long time could also impair the body’s ability to process other nutrients such as vitamin B12 and copper.

Supplementation vs Whole Food

Just remember that for most people, a healthy diet provides an adequate amount of vitamin C, coming from sources such as spinach, radish, and bell pepper.

Much like any other antioxidants, such as astaxanthin or vitamin D, vitamin C supplements are also available in the form of powder and capsules. However, unless advised by your doctor, I’d still suggest getting your vitamin C from whole food sources rather than supplementation, because only then would you get the whole complete form of vitamin! Remember, getting only vitamin C supplementation in the form of ascorbic acid is not enough for supposed biochemical interactions of vitamin C to happen! You’d need the complete form of vitamin C complex working together, with co-factors and other components present. (8)

In addition, nutrient-dense whole foods provide an assortment of other important vitamins and minerals, reducing your risk of adverse side effects that come with increased dosages of supplementation alone.

Final Thoughts

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant and is involved in the synthesis of collagen and other important compounds like neurotransmitters. It has many health benefits – improving skin health and heart health along with boosting your immunity! However, a deficiency in vitamin C can lead to a condition called scurvy, which can cause symptoms such as bleeding gums and slow wound healing. This condition is rare and can be prevented as long as you include whole fruits and vegetables such as kiwi, bell peppers, and spinach into your daily dietary plans. Again, if you find it tough to obtain these produce, you could always go with vitamin C supplementation!


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