Vitamin C Top 10 Benefits: A Comprehensive Breakdown

orange drink

Your parents always tell you to drink OJ when you’re feeling sick or feel a cold coming on. There’s something about a cool glass of orange juice that just makes you feel good. It may not actually be able to abolish the common cold, but it does give your immune system a boost and possibly speeds up your healing process. Vitamin C is found in a large array of fruits and vegetables, like green and red peppers, broccoli, papaya, cantaloupe, and strawberries. As you may have noticed, the greatest thing about vitamin C is that it’s pretty affordable and easily accessible, a win-win!

Our bodies need many different varieties of nutrients to look and function at its best. Vitamin C is an important piece in that game. Since a lot of vitamin C is already stored in our skin, it can help protect and rejuvenate our complexions. Vitamin C should be just as much a part of our skin care regime as washing our face and putting on sunscreen, and let me explain why!

What Is Vitamin C?

Sliced citrus fruit cross section.

Sliced citrus fruit.

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin essential for growth and development. It repairs body tissue by healing wounds and forming scar tissue. It can also help in the absorption of iron, maintain and repair cartilage, bones, and teeth. Being that this vitamin dissolves in water, leftover amounts leave the body when you use the restroom, meaning you need an ongoing supply of it! It’s extremely rare to be deficient in it though since it’s abundantly available and in some of your favorite foods.

It has many other functions as well. It’s important for the repair and growth of all the tissue in your body. It’s an antioxidant that helps block damage that may have been caused by free radicals. To put it simply, free radicals occur when you’re exposed to things like radiation or tobacco smoke. They are also formed when your body breaks down food. Free radicals play a major role in a person’s aging process and may also be a contributing factor to cancer and heart disease.

Top 10 Health Benefits Of Vitamin C

1. Boosts Energy

Three people jumping in the snow.

Vitamin C can increase your energy levels.

In today’s society, there isn’t much time to rest. If you’ve been looking for a natural solution for chronic fatigue, vitamin C may be able to help. It has been found to seriously reduce work-related fatigue in healthy employees. It’s also shown to help you push through the pain barriers and boost energy levels- making your workouts that much easier. It wouldn’t be that hard to add some extra vitamin C into your life. All you would need to do is add a few foods that naturally contain the vitamin to your diet.

2. Healthier Skin

African American woman with clear skin.

Woman with clear skin.

Vitamin C doesn’t only have to be taken orally, it also can be used as a serum applied to your skin. It helps protect the skin from harmful factors as well as stimulate collagen production. The antioxidants work to help treat burns and also reduce the need for ventilation in extreme burn cases. Since it helps produce collagen, it’s great for treating sunburns. That being said, it should be used as an addition to sunscreen and not a replacement. Vitamin C may also be able to treat eczema when combined with zinc. Since vitamin C increases the formation of elastin- it protects, thickens, and heals the skin. Basically, if you’re looking to revive your complexion and have healthier skin, vitamin C might be the place to start. 

3. Improves Heart Health

Unfortunately, heart disease and heart attacks are very common. I’m sure you know someone who has heart disease or had a heart attack. It’s crazy how little things like vitamin C can possibly prevent these life-changing moments. Vitamin C may be just as good as exercise when it comes to your heart health. A study showed that it may play a role in decreasing the risk of heart disease. It has also been found to help the arteries dilate under stress, improving blood flow and strengthening its ability to carry oxygen- preventing heart attacks.

4. Treats Allergies

Allergies are very common, especially seasonal allergies, which always seem to show up at the strangest times. They definitely don’t follow any pattern or order, they just enter your life at usually the worst possible moments. Well, vitamin C can actually help with them! Allergies are caused when our body releases histamine and taking vitamin C regularly reduces the release of histamine- thereby preventing an allergic reaction. There was a Japanese study that showed autoimmune disease and related allergies can be directly controlled by vitamin C. It has also worked in treating hay fever.

5. Boosts Immunity

Ascorbic acid (aka vitamin C) supports many immune mechanisms in your body. Vitamin C is an essential vitamin for your immune system. For example, your white blood cells are supported by vitamin C. There are many different types of white blood cells and each one help to fight viruses and bacteria off in different ways. It doesn’t just help your immune system through your blood cells. It also helps produce collagen in your skin to prevent infection-causing bacteria from entering your bloodstream through a little cut in your skin- your body’s first line of defense.

6. Maintains Healthy Gums

smile curly hair

Vitamin C can maintain healthy gums.

Everyone wants a nice smile, but more importantly than having a nice smile is having a healthy smile. Your mouth is actually a great insight for your overall health. The vitamin is responsible for your teeth and gums. One of the first signs of a vitamin C deficiency is bleeding gums. Unhealthy gums can lead to a lot more serious problems, like your teeth falling out or diabetes. Periodontal disease can be caused by a vitamin C deficiency, which in its early stages is known as gingivitis. As you can see vitamin C is crucial for a healthy and beautiful smile.

7. Regulates Blood Pressure

There’s reason to believe that vitamin C regulates blood pressure. In order to see positive effects in your blood pressure from vitamin C, you would need to take large doses of it- meaning taking supplements in addition to already having it in your diet. Since vitamin C acts as a diuretic, it causes your kidneys to remove more water and sodium from your body- relieving the pressure on blood vessel walls. The vitamin protects your body’s supply of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a molecule known to relax the blood vessels- which helps lower blood pressure and decrease muscle cramping. It can also enhance vasodilation – meaning, it can decrease blood pressure.

8. Cures Lead Toxicity

If you have low levels of vitamin C in your bloodstream it could be from high levels of lead. Lead Toxicity can be pretty bad. It can cause behavioral problems, anemia, seizures, coma, or even death. Lead has the potential to enter our bloodstream in only 2 ways, by breathing it in or eating it. It can be found in paint, ceramics, pipes, gasoline, batteries, and cosmetics- causing us to be constantly exposed to it. Blood lead levels have been shown to decrease in smokers that have regular vitamin C supplementation. Another study showed that vitamin C would be able to alleviate lead toxicity as well.

9. Enhances Eye Health

Two heads touching with blue eyes.

Close up of healthy eyes.

There’s this little thing called cataracts. They are the most common cause of vision loss for people over 40 and the main cause of blindness as well. As the US populated gets older, it’s expected that 30 million Americans will have cataracts by 2020. Cataracts is basically the clouding of our eye lens, making it harder to see. Vitamin C can possibly prevent this by stopping age-related macular degeneration and vision loss. It may also be able to help the eyes in the regeneration of vitamin E, which will only enhance eye health further.

10. Healthy Hair

Vitamin C can encourage healthy hair.

Vitamin C deficiency may result in a bunch of hair issues, including split ends and generally dry hair. With these problems, it’s hard for our hair to grow as much as we want it to. The free radicals in our body are what make our hair weak, and since vitamin C can hinder the production of free radicals it indirectly helps our hair. The people with long, thick, strong hair probably take huge amounts of vitamin C. The vitamin can also help prevent dandruff by fighting the bacteria on our scalps, and the premature graying of hair by helping our hair retain its natural color.

Best Sources Of Vitamin C Breakdown

Vitamin C is in most of your favorite foods, like red peppers, oranges, kiwis, and many more. Eating just a few citrus fruits every day will most likely exceed your RDA for vitamin C. For adults the RDA of vitamin C is 90 mg and 75 mg for women. People who smoke require 35 mg more of vitamin C than non-smokers do. This is because they need more of the vitamin to counteract the negative effects smoking has on their bodies.

If you decide to cook vitamin C-rich foods, it can actually reduce the content of vitamin C. If you store them too long or if you microwave them, it could also decrease the vitamin content. This is why eating fresh, raw, fruits and vegetables every day is so important. Vitamin C content can also be decreased by exposure to light, which is why it’s better to buy OJ in a carton than a clear bottle. Some people still need to take vitamin C supplements. Even though our bodies flush out the vitamin C we don’t need, you can still consume too much. If you ingest more than 2,000 mg of vitamin C every day, you may begin to experience nausea, diarrhea, and kidney stones. This is highly unlikely to happen but could be possible for those who live on a plant-based diet.

Conclusion

Vitamin C is all you ever wanted and needed in a vitamin. I may have listed 10 of its benefits, but just know that there are many more. Even though it’s extremely rare, vitamin C deficiency is possible. Some of the symptoms would include bleeding gums, dry skin, easy bruising, muscle weakness, and muscle and joint aches. A deficiency may also slow down the rate of wound healing. A patient who is recovering from surgery, burns, injuries, or wounds would highly benefit from taking a vitamin C supplement.

The next time you’re out buying skincare products, be sure to check out the ingredient list and look for L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C), as well as alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E). When vitamin C and vitamin E are combined, they make an unstoppable team. Remember that products with vitamin C can decrease in quality if exposed to light, so when buying your products, look for opaque containers.