5 Benefits of Vitamin C

If you’ve ever reached for a vitamin C elixir during cold and flu season, chances are you’ve heard about at least one of its good-for-you benefits. But, did you know that it’s more than just an immunity booster? 

In fact, vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is actually an essential nutrient for our overall health, and is responsible for the growth, development, and repair of all of our body’s tissues. It isn’t produced naturally in the body, so you need to get it either from your diet, or from supplementation. 

As with many vitamins and minerals, vitamin C is a rich source in many whole foods, including citrus fruits like lemons, grapefruits, or oranges. You can also find it in bell peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, white potatoes, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage. 

A balanced diet filled with plant-based foods like these should ensure you get enough vitamin C to support your health, but a supplement can help fill the gaps, especially if you’re not eating quite as many fruits and vegetables as you would like to on a daily basis. 

Now that we’ve covered the importance of vitamin C and the ways you can introduce it into your nutrition, let’s get into some of the benefits: 

1. Supports Your Immune System
We’ll start off with the most well-known of vitamin C’s benefits: its ability to boost your immunity. While it won’t prevent or cure the common cold like some claim, vitamin C stimulates the activity of white blood cells, which do help protect the body against infection. Research is ongoing, but some studies have shown a benefit in decreasing the duration of severity of cold symptoms (which is especially beneficial during the fall and winter months!). 

2. Stimulates Collagen Production 
Our bodies naturally produce collagen, but that amount decreases as we age, and can lead to duller, dryer skin, as well as fine lines and wrinkles. Vitamin C plays a role in collagen production and is responsible for collagen synthesis specifically, which means more vitamin C = healthier, more hydrated skin. In addition to taking a supplement, you can find vitamin C in some skin care products, like serum or eye cream.

3. Helps Protect Skin from the Sun’s Rays
Another benefit on the skincare front? Vitamin C is an antioxidant and also helps protect cells against damage caused by the sun’s rays. This particular benefit can be achieved when using skin care products that include this ingredient. Added skincare benefits include a brighter complexion and reduced redness and hyperpigmentation. This doesn’t mean you can skip sunscreen, though! Use both for the ultimate protection. 

4. Boosts Iron Absorption 
Many people in the United States (particularly vegetarians, children, pregnant women, and those who menstruate) are deficient in iron, a nutrient that transports oxygen in the body through the bloodstream. Iron is found primarily in meats, but can also be found in some plant-based sources like leafy greens and beans. The problem with the plant-based sources is that the body doesn’t absorb them as well, and that’s where vitamin C comes in. Vitamin C has been shown to improve the absorption of iron in these foods, supporting overall health in the process. 

5. Improves Brain Health 
Healthy intake of vitamin C supports cognition, including recall and memory, and modulates neurotransmitter release in nerve cells. In fact, the highest concentrations of vitamin C can be found in the brain, as it’s needed to convert dopamine into serotonin. All the more reason to make sure you’re getting enough of this key nutrient! 

Hopefully you think about vitamin C a little bit differently after reading this article, and realize the importance of powering your diet with vitamin-rich whole foods, as well as supplementing where necessary.

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