Remarkable reasons your body needs Vitamin C
Posted on June 17 2019
Vitamin C is an everyday essential. Whether you enjoy a glass of fresh orange juice in the morning, or a helping of broccoli with your evening meal, you need to squeeze enough Vitamin C into each day. From protecting our cells against damaging free radicals, to helping produce antibodies, this nutrient can do your body the world of good.1 By keeping up your intake of Vitamin C, you can make the most of these surprising health benefits:
Renew your skin
As we get older, collagen production in our bodies slows down, causing skin to become less elastic, which can result in wrinkles. One way to help combat ageing skin is to support the production of collagen and to do this, you need vitamin C. This essential vitamin is a powerful antioxidant that is crucial for collagen formation in our bodies. Collagen helps protect your skin by filtering out environmental toxins and other pathogens, and Vitamin C is needed to form and store it. It does this by activating cells called fibroblasts that make new collagen, which in turn can help the surface of your skin appear smoother and firmer.2
Preserve your strength
Some of Vitamin C’s many roles within the body go hand in hand with post-exercise recovery. We’ve already touched on how Vitamin C is vital for collagen production, but this isn’t just great for your skin. As a necessary protein in our bodies, collagen also helps build your tendons and muscles.3 This is key for muscle growth and tissue repair, which is particularly important when recovering from exercise.
We also know that Vitamin C has abundant antioxidant properties, which come into play when your body is under stress or injured. It can protect your cells from free radicals and prevent oxidative damage within the body.4 So, Vitamin C can help those who exercise regularly avoid exercise-induced free radical damage. Another potential benefit is the reduction of cortisol in our bodies after physical activity.5 This ‘stress hormone’ is released during exercise, but elevated levels can interfere with muscle growth and hormone activity. For male athletes, the lower ratio of cortisol to testosterone that Vitamin C helps maintain can help keep up physical performance.6
Up your intake of iron
Iron is an important nutrient that’s essential for making red blood cells and transporting oxygen around the body. A lack of iron can lead to fatigue, anemia and a weakened immune system, which is why it’s so important to keep up your intake of Vitamin C - it can enhance iron absorption to prevent low iron levels and the problems associated with it.7 In addition to the absorption factor, Vitamin C also helps to synthesize red blood cells.8
A vital tip for veggies
If you eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, keeping up your intake of Vitamin C is going to be particularly important, as the iron available in plant-based foods such as beans and lentils is harder for the body to absorb.9 The main reason is that iron-rich plant foods are often high in phytic acid (also called phytate) a compound that binds iron and other minerals. Adding foods rich in Vitamin C to a meal, or taking a high-quality Vitamin C supplement, counters the effects of phytate and increases iron absorption.
What to remember
There’s much more to this essential nutrient than you might think at first glance. Its positive impact on our overall health and wellbeing is unquestionable. From fighting free radicals, to helping protect our bodies against illness, Vitamin C should be a part of our everyday routine in order to take full advantage of the multiple powerful health benefits it offers.
1 Carr, A. C., & Maggini, S. (2017). Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients, 9(11), 1211.
2 Pullar, J. M., Carr, A. C., & Vissers, M. (2017). The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients, 9(8), 866.
3 Kannus, P. (2000), Structure of the tendon connective tissue. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 10: 312-320.
4 Powers, S. K., & Jackson, M. J. (2008). Exercise-induced oxidative stress: cellular mechanisms and impact on muscle force production. Physiological reviews, 88(4), 1243–1276.
5 American Chemical Society. (1999, August 23). Scientists Say Vitamin C May Alleviate The Body's Response To Stress. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 1, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/08/990823072615.htm
6 Brownlee, K. K., Moore, A. W., & Hackney, A. C. (2005). Relationship between circulating cortisol and testosterone: influence of physical exercise. Journal of sports science & medicine, 4(1), 76–83.
7 Hallberg L, Brune M, & Rossander L. (1989). The role of vitamin C in iron absorption. 30:103-8
8 C S Johnston, C G Meyer, J C Srilakshmi, Vitamin C elevates red blood cell glutathione in healthy adults, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 58, Issue 1, July 1993, Pages 103–10
9 Heme Iron vs Non-Heme Iron in Foods. (2019). Retrieved from https://hemochromatosishelp.com/heme-iron-vs-non-heme-iron/