7 Ways Vitamin C Keeps Your Body Healthy
Vitamin C is an important nutrient for keeping the body healthy.
It is also an essential vitamin, meaning it is not a nutrient the human body can produce. You have to eat vitamin C every day in your diet to make sure your body has enough of it for vital, daily functions.
If you aren’t getting enough vitamin C from your diet, dietary supplements are also available.
What is Vitamin C
Vitamin C—also known as ascorbic acid—is a water-soluble vitamin that is linked to several health benefits.
Its widely known for its high content in citrus fruits (i.e., oranges, lemons, or grapefruits) , but it can be found in an abundant number of colorful fruits and vegetables. Including papaya, kiwi, strawberries, kale, broccoli, and sweet potatoes (1).
7 ways vitamin C keeps the body healthy
As stated above, vitamin C plays a very important role in keep your body healthy.
It plays a key part in several vital body functions, which is why it needs to be consumed every day through diet or via dietary supplement.
Vitamin C supports a healthy immune system, functions as an antioxidant, quickens tissue healing, keeps bones strong, aids iron absorption, boost brain health, and promotes healthy aging.
- Keeps the immune system strong
Vitamin C is involved in many parts of the immune system.
It helps in the production of both white blood cells (lymphocytes and phagocytes) and antibodies. These cells help protect the body against viruses, infections, and illnesses (1).
Vitamin C is also part of the body’s first line of defense to disease and infection—the skin (and mucus membranes). Strong, healthy skin is an essential barrier for keeping out harmful bacteria. Vitamin C plays a role in producing collagen, which is a key protein for the structure of skin.
- Has antioxidant power
As an antioxidant, vitamin C can help protect your cells against the effects of harmful free radicals. Free radicals can cause serious harm to the body in the form of oxidative stress and inflammation (4).
It’s antioxidant properties also assist in maintaining skin health. When
Vitamin C is actively transported to the skin where it help strengthen the skin’s barriers and promote natural repair and rejuvenation to prevent weakness and signs of aging (1).
- Repairs and heals the skin
Vitamin C is essential for the growth, skin strengthening and defense, and repair of tissue all over the body due to its contribution to collagen production. Collagen is a key protein of skin tissue building.
This way, vitamin C keeps our skin strong, but also helps to heal tissue wounds (2). A higher intake of Vitamin C is associated with faster wound healing.
As stated above, as an antioxidant it also protects the skin from oxidative damage that can lead to weak tissue and to signs of ageing, like wrinkles (4).
- Keeps bones strong
Vitamin C’s role in collagen production is also important for bones. The protein is an essential component for bone mineralization, maintenance, and repair. But not only bones of the body, but also teeth and cartilage (2).
Higher intake of vitamin C is also linked to higher bone density (3). This is important for individuals of all ages, but especially for older adults. As we ages, bone density decreases and the risk for breakage and fracture increases.
It’s important to increase supplementation of vitamin C with age to maintain strong bones.
- Aids iron absorption
Iron is an important nutrient for several functions in the body. This includes making red blood cells. Red blood cells transport micronutrients and oxygen through the body, keeping it functioning properly.
Vitamin C helps convert these certain forms of iron – those found in plants that are poorly absorbed by the digestive system – into one that is easily absorbed by the body (1).
- Boost brain health, mood, and memory
The brain consumes a lot of vitamin C for it to function properly. It uses the highest concentration of vitamin C of any other body system.
Most important for brain health, is the role vitamin C plays in the nervous system (via neuron and neurotransmitter function), which is where it boosts brain power (5). It’s also needed for production of serotonin, which is important in regulating mood.
Adequate vitamin C intake is also important to keep the brain healthy as we age. Primarily with collagen production and its ability to support ‘cognitive capacity’ – AKA: memory.
- Promotes healthy aging
To age and remain healthy is important to prevent and stave off age-related diseases. And it’s also important to maintain an adequate intake of vital micronutrients.
Vitamin C is one of those nutrients because of its role in all the functions described above. An intake of vitamin C that meets the recommended daily amount (listed below) throughout the lifetime may help stave off several issues related to aging. Including frail bones and teeth, weakened and wrinkled skin, and some diseases (6).
Enough daily vitamin C can promote healthy aging over the lifetime.
What is the daily requirement of Vitamin C
The recommended daily amount of vitamin C is 90 mg for adult men and adult women, respectively (1).
Are you getting enough Vitamin C to keep your body healthy?
Because Vitamin C is a vital nutrient, it’s important to meet the suggested intake recommendations every day via diet or dietary supplements.
As mentioned, vitamin C found in citrus fruits, but it can be found in an abundant number of colorful fruits and vegetables. Including papaya, kiwi, strawberries, kale, broccoli, and sweet potatoes (1).
However, sometime you cannot consume enough vitamin C from diet alone. You can consult with a healthcare professional to discuss if you are consuming an adequate amount of vitamin C through your daily diet or if a supplement is needed.
Vitamin C – in the form of ascorbic acid or others, including sodium ascorbate, calcium ascorbate, other mineral ascorbates, and ascorbic acid with bioflavonoids – can be found in most multivitamins, but is also available alone as a dietary individual supplement (7).
Author: Allison Lansman, RDN, LD
Allison Lansman is a Registered Dietitian (RD), freelance nutrition and health writer, and wellness blogger. She is the owner/operator of The Freelance RD writing service and blog. Her business provides mainly writing services, but also product development, educational services and brand partnerships.
As an RD, Allison embraces a modern approach to nutrition and wellness. She believes we benefit most from building positive, balanced connections between mind, body, food, and environment. And she is passionate about sharing that philosophy through wellness communication and writing.
Her educational background is through Iowa State University, where she completed both her undergraduate degree and dietetics internship. She is currently studying towards an Masters in Public Health.