Vitamin C Benefits
Crucial to the overall health of the body in its efforts to fight off infections – both bacterial and viral – white blood cells contain 20 times the amount of vitamin C than other cells and require constant replenishment to keep the immune system working to its optimum capacity.
Vitamin C affects several components of the human immune system. It has been shown to stimulate both the production and function of leukocytes, a type of white blood cell that is essential to the immune system. They are essential to the body’s ability to effectively fight off bacteria and disease-causing pathogens, thus preventing infections and disease. Vitamin C, through its antioxidant functions, has also been shown to protect leukocytes from self-inflicted oxidative damage.
Specific measures of functions stimulated by vitamin C include cellular motility and phagocytosis. Phagocytosis is the process by which a cell uses its plasma membrane to engulf a large particle. Critical to the immune system, it is a major mechanism used to remove pathogens and cell debris. Phagocytic leukocytes also produce and release cytokines, including interferons, which have antiviral activity.
Unfortunately, the RDA (recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C) is just enough to prevent scurvy. The amount of vitamin C required to help prevent chronic disease is much higher than the amount required for prevention of scurvy. Please see the video at the end of this article for tips on dosage.
Vitamin C has been found to improve endothelial dysfunction at doses over 500mg per day. The endothelium is a thin membrane that lines the inside of the heart and blood vessels. Endothelial cells release substances that control vascular relaxation and contraction as well as enzymes that control blood clotting, immune function and platelet aggregation. Endothelial dysfunction is considered the pre-cursor to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which leads to the risk of future cardiovascular events.
There are many studies that correlate high vitamin C intake with a reduced risk of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD). The powerfully antioxidant potential of this nutrient prevents and repairs the damage caused by reactive oxygen species, which in turn protects the cells of the heart.
Vitamin C is absolutely vital to collagen production. Collagen is a simple protein that an essential part of connective tissue, the very framework of the body. All of the components that hold our bodies together such as skin, bones, blood vessels, teeth and gums, tendons and cartilage rely upon collagen. Vitamin C is directly responsible for influencing collagen synthesis, helping to shield from the symptoms of collagen deletion – most famously scurvy.
A powerful antioxidant, Vitamin C protects cells from the damaging effects of free radicals. Free radicals are atoms or molecules that are highly reactive with other cellular structures because they contain unpaired electrons. Free radicals can cause damage to parts of cells such as proteins, DNA, and cell membranes by stealing their electrons through a process called oxidation. Antioxidants (also known as “free radical scavengers”), are compounds that either reduce the formation of free radicals or react with and neutralise them. Inside the body, vitamin C changes form to a negatively charged compound called ascorbate which helps to protect nerve cells and improves psychological function. It has been known as the antioxidant’s antioxidant because it functions to protect vitamin E from oxidation too, another vitamin that interacts with free radicals to prevent cell damage.
Enhances Iron Absorption
Vitamin C strongly enhances the absorption of iron – when they are consumed and digested together, vitamin C combines with the iron to form a compound that is more easily absorbed.
Vitamin C contributes to:
- normal collagen formation for the normal function of blood vessels
- normal collagen formation for the normal function of bones
- normal collagen formation for the normal function of cartilage
- normal collagen formation for the normal function of gums
- normal collagen formation for the normal function of skin
- normal collagen formation for the normal function of teeth
- normal energy-yielding metabolism
- normal functioning of the nervous system
- normal psychological function
- the normal function of the immune system
- maintain the normal function of the immune system during and after intense physical exercise
- the protection of cells from oxidative stress
- the reduction of tiredness and fatigue
- the regeneration of the reduced form of vitamin E
- Vitamin C increases iron absorption