7 Benefits of Vitamin C Foods
There are few vitamins that boast as many health benefits as vitamin C. Doubling as both an essential nutrient and powerful antioxidant, vitamin C can have a huge impact on your health from the inside out — quite literally. In fact, vitamin C works to improve everything from skin health to immune function and just about everything in between. By incorporating just a few servings of vitamin C foods in your diet, it’s simple to take advantage of all the health benefits that this water-soluble vitamin has to offer.
So how much vitamin C do you need per day, and how can you maximize your intake to reap the rewards? Let’s take a closer look.
What Is Vitamin C? Vitamin C’s Role in Body
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant and plays a role in maintaining the health of the body’s connective tissue. Vitamin C can also help protect the health of your heart, repair and restore tissues and boost the absorption of other nutrients in the body.
Found primarily in fruits and vegetables, vitamin C is abundant throughout the diet. A deficiency in this important vitamin can wreak havoc on health, causing symptoms like easy bruising, bleeding gums, fatigue weakened immunity, and, in severe cases, scurvy.
Because your body doesn’t store vitamin C or make it on its own, it’s absolutely vital to include plenty of vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. The benefits of vitamin C may include enhanced iron absorption, better immune function, plus a reduced risk of conditions like gout and heart disease.
Benefits of Vitamin C Foods
- Promotes Healthy Skin and Collagen Formation
- Improves Iron Absorption
- Reduces Risk of Gout
- Fights Free Radical Damage
- Boosts Immune Function
- Enhances Cancer Treatment
- Supports Heart Health
1. Promote Healthy Skin and Collagen Formation
Including plenty of vitamin C foods in your diet can help keep your skin glowing, healthy, and young. In fact, a major study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the diets of over 4,000 women and found that consuming more high vitamin C foods was associated with a lower risk of skin wrinkles and dryness. There is also some evidence that using a topical vitamin C serum could decrease the amount of skin redness following UVB exposure and may decrease sunburn cell formation by up t0 60 percent.
Part of the reason vitamin C foods for skin health can be so beneficial is that vitamin C is used to form collagen, an important protein used to form the skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Collagen is especially important to skin health and can aid in both wound healing and scar tissue formation. One study from the University of Kiel in Germany even found that collagen could help improve skin elasticity and moisture, making it absolutely essential to fit plenty of vitamin C foods into your diet.
2. Improve Iron Absorption
Iron is a mineral that is vital to many aspects of health. Most importantly, iron is a major component of the hemoglobin found in your red blood cells and can help supply the cells throughout your body with oxygen. A deficiency in this key mineral can lead to iron-deficiency anemia, a condition characterized by anemia symptoms like weakness, shortness of breath, and dizziness.
Consuming vitamin C foods alongside iron can give iron absorption a serious boost to help prevent iron deficiency. In fact, one study actually found that taking 100 milligrams of vitamin C with a meal increased iron absorption by a whopping 67 percent.
3. Reduce Risk of Gout
Gout is a painful form of arthritis that can cause severe redness and tenderness in the joints, especially in the big toe. Although anti-inflammatory medications are often used to relieve symptoms during flare-ups, it’s typically recommended to make long-term diet and lifestyle changes to prevent recurrences of this unpleasant condition.
Adding more foods that contain vitamin C into your diet is an easy and effective way to reduce your risk of gout. According to one massive study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, a high intake of vitamin C was associated with a significantly lower risk of gout. Not only that, but taking at least 1,500 milligrams of supplemental vitamin C each day cut the risk of gout nearly in half.
4. Fight Free Radical Damage
Vitamin C is one of the primary antioxidants that can protect against damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals as well as toxic chemicals and pollutants like cigarette smoke.
Free radicals can build up inside the body and contribute to the development of health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis. These disease-causing molecules are generated over time due to factors like a poor diet, unhealthy lifestyle, and long-term exposure to environmental pollutants and toxins.
5. Boost Immune Function
For many people, reaching for high vitamin C foods and supplements is almost second nature when you start feeling under the weather. Rich in antioxidants, the immune-boosting benefits of this powerful vitamin have been well-documented in recent years. In fact, one of the hallmark signs of a vitamin C deficiency is a weakened immune system.
One study out of Switzerland actually found that getting enough vitamin C can help reduce symptoms and shorten the duration of respiratory infections, such as the common cold, bronchitis or sinusitis. Plus, it could also improve the outcomes and reduce the incidence of other conditions like pneumonia, malaria, and diarrhea infections as well.
6. Enhance Cancer Treatment
Vitamin C is jam-packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants and has been shown to have powerful anti-cancer properties in both in vitro studies and animal models. Vitamin C foods like lemons and oranges have also been shown to help block the growth and spread of cancer cells and may also be associated with a lower risk of cancer development.
Not only that, but vitamin C may also have some benefits when used alongside traditional cancer treatments as well. According to one large review of 76 studies, administering vitamin C intravenously could improve time to relapse, reduce tumor size, enhance the quality of life and decrease symptoms associated with chemotherapy, such as nausea, depression, and fatigue.
7. Support Heart Health
Ranking as the leading cause of death, it’s estimated that heart disease accounts for nearly 32 percent of deaths around the world. Switching up your diet and lifestyle is one of the most effective ways to ward off heart disease, and some research even shows that including just a few servings per day of vitamin C-rich foods could help reduce several heart disease risk factors to promote heart health.
One large study out of Finland concluded that people who took at least 700 milligrams of vitamin C daily had a 25 percent lower risk of developing heart disease than people who did not take supplemental vitamin C. Similarly, another study showed that taking just 500 milligrams of vitamin C daily significantly reduced both triglycerides and levels of bad LDL cholesterol, two major contributors to heart disease.