Dr. Megan Johnson McCullough
Special to the Village News
We hear so much about vitamins and minerals and supplements we can take. When it comes to the big players that we absolutely need and can benefit the most from, vitamin C is near the top of the list.
It's important to know that vitamin C is an essential vitamin, which means our body doesn't naturally produce it. This means we need to ingest it. It is water soluble and found in many foods such as strawberries, oranges, kiwi, kale, spinach, broccoli and bell peppers.
If someone isn't getting their needed amount of vitamin C, which is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men, then supplements can be helpful.
There are several reasons we need vitamin C on top of all the benefits it has for us. The popular use of vitamin C is for its immunity benefits. This is because vitamin C helps produce white blood cells (lymphocytes and phagocytes), that help fight off and protect the body from infection.
Vitamin C helps white blood cells function more efficiently and can protect them from damage such as free radicals. Furthermore, vitamin C assists the absorption of iron in the body. It actually converts iron that is poorly absorbed into iron the body can better absorb.
Studies have shown taking 100 mg per day of vitamin C can improve iron absorption by up to 67%. This is very important to offset the risk of anemia. Studies have also shown vitamin C helps keep memory and thinking in better condition.
As we age, this is needed to ward off dementia. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant helping the central nervous system when inflammation and oxidative stress are present. The antioxidants can also help ward off chronic disease.
Vitamin C can boost blood antioxidant levels by as much as 30%. Plus, this vitamin can help lower blood pressure because it relaxes the blood vessels that carry blood to the heart. The relaxation effect reduces blood pressure levels. In turn, these benefits of vitamin C lower the risk for heart disease. In addition to these benefits, vitamin C can also help reduce uric acid levels keeping gout away.
Vitamin C is also a great helper when it comes to our skin. It acts as a defense mechanism because it is full of antioxidants that boost skin ability to act as a barrier for us. It also shortens the healing time of wounds.
Vitamin C serums can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on your skin. It also helps lighten dark spots. Adding this to your facial skin care routine would certainly help the appearance of your skin.
Common side effects of low vitamin C levels include feeling fatigue/weakness, having rough skin, wounds healing poorly, and/or having sore arms and/or legs. One might also develop gum disease or easily bleed when puncturing the skin.
The best source of vitamin C definitely comes from whole food sources. However, absorption is key, so a blood test can confirm a deficiency. From there a doctor may recommend the use of supplements which come in many forms.
Anything for the skin is usually topical or serum-like. Pills and chewable forms are also available. Many products add vitamin C such as teas and even cereals. Your body needs vitamin C and it needs you to help get it.
What we eat is so important, so keep in mind that food isn't just for taste, rather, it has the nutritional value that your body requires.