Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, plays an important role in the body and has been associated with remarkable health benefits.
It strengthens the immune system to help avoid infections and combat disease. Fruits and vegetables are the best food sources for vitamin C.
The recommended daily intake of vitamin C for women is 75 mg, and for men, it is 90 mg (1).
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1. Prevents Heart Disease
Some factors raise the risk of heart disease, including high blood pressure, high levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, and low levels of “healthy” HDL cholesterol. Vitamin C may help to reduce the risk factors that may affect the heart.
For example, a review of nine studies with 293,172 participants found that people who took at least 700 mg of vitamin C daily for 10 years had a 25% lower risk of heart disease relative to those who did not take a vitamin C supplement (2).
Ironically, another review of 15 studies found that consuming vitamin C-rich foods can reduce the risk of heart disease (3).
Scientists were uncertain whether people who consumed foods rich in vitamin C also followed a healthier lifestyle. Therefore, it remains unclear whether the health benefits were because of vitamin C or other dietary aspects.
Another analysis of 13 studies examined the impact on risk factors for heart disease, such as blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels (4).
The analysis found that taking a vitamin C supplement reduced “bad” LDL cholesterol and blood triglycerides. In short, it seems to reduce the risk of heart disease by taking or consuming at least 500 mg of vitamin C daily.
If you are already eating a diet rich in vitamin C, however, supplements may not provide additional health benefits.
2. Boosts Immune System
One of the key reasons people take vitamin C supplements is to increase their immunity. In many areas of the immune system, vitamin C is involved.
Vitamin C helps to promote the development of white blood cells known as lymphocytes and phagocytes that help protect the body from infection (5).
However, vitamin C helps these white blood cells act more efficiently while shielding them from damage that is potentially harmful, such as free radicals. Vitamin C is an essential part of the defense mechanism of the skin (6).
It is effectively transported to the skin, where it can serve as an antioxidant and help reinforce the defense system of the skin. Studies have also shown that taking vitamin C can shorten the healing time of wounds (7).
In addition, low levels of vitamin C are related to poor health outcomes. Patients with pneumonia, for example, have lower levels of vitamin C, and supplements of vitamin C have been shown to reduce the recovery time (8).
3. Protects the Memory
Dementia is a broad term to explain the effects of poor memory and thought. It affects over 35 million people around the world and usually occurs in older adults (9).
Studies suggest that oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain’s vicinity, spine, and nerves (known as the central nervous system) may increase the risk of dementia (10).
To understand the benefits of vitamin C supplements on the health of the nervous system, we need more human-based studies (18).
4. Prevents Chronic Diseases
Vitamin C is an effective antioxidant that can strengthen the natural defenses of your body (19).
Antioxidants are molecules that stimulate the immune system by defending cells from damaging molecules, called free radicals.
Oxidative stress has been linked to many chronic diseases when free radicals accumulate (20).
It can fight inflammation through the natural defenses of the body.
5. Controls High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure puts you at risk of heart disease, the world’s leading cause of death (23).
Research shows that in those with or without high blood pressure, vitamin C can help lower blood pressure.
An animal study found that taking a supplement of vitamin C helped relax the blood vessels carrying blood from the heart, helping to reduce blood pressure (24).
In addition, a review of 29 human studies found that taking a vitamin C supplement in healthy adults lowered their average systolic blood pressure (upper value) by 3.84 mm Hg and their diastolic blood pressure (lower value) by 1.48 mm Hg.
On average, Vitamin C supplements have lowered systolic blood pressure by 4.85 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 1.67 mm Hg on average in adults with high blood pressure (25).
While these findings are positive, it is not clear whether there are long-term effects on blood pressure. In addition, people with high blood pressure should not rely on vitamin C alone.
6. Reduces Blood Uric Acid
The symptoms occur when the blood produces too much uric acid. Uric acid is a body-made waste product. It can crystallize and accumulate in the joints at top levels.
It is interesting to note that several studies have shown that vitamin C can help reduce uric acid in the blood and thus protect against gout attacks.
A study of 1,387 individuals, for example, found that people who consumed the most vitamin C had significantly lower levels of uric acid in their blood relative to those who consumed the least (28).
Another research followed over 20 years in 46,994 healthy men to see if the intake of vitamin C was correlated with gout growth (29).
Ironically, people taking a vitamin C supplement had a 44% lower risk of gout.
In addition, 13 clinical studies showed that taking a vitamin C supplement reduced uric acid in the blood over 30 days compared to a placebo (30).
Although there seems to be a powerful link between intake of vitamin C and levels of uric acid, further studies are needed to determine the health benefits of vitamin C in people with gout.
7. Prevents Iron Deficiency
Iron is an essential nutrient in the body with a variety of functions. It is necessary to produce red blood cells and carry oxygen throughout the body. Ironically, vitamin C can help improve the dietary absorption of iron (31).
It helps transform iron and makes it easier to absorb from plant-based iron sources. This is useful because the meat is a significant source of iron for those on a meat-free diet. Eating 100 mg of vitamin C will improve the absorption of iron by 67% (32).
As a result, the risk of anemia among people prone to iron deficiency may be higher than normal because of low levels of vitamin C. In one study, they gave a vitamin C supplement to 65 children with moderate iron-deficiency anemia (33).
Researchers found the supplement alone managed their anemia. If you have low iron levels, eating more vitamin C-rich foods or taking a supplement can help improve your blood iron levels.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that must be obtained through diet or supplementation.
Vitamin C has many incredible health benefits, such as increasing antioxidant levels, lowering blood pressure, and more.
Ultimately, if you’re struggling to get enough from your diet, vitamin C supplements are a perfect and easy way to boost your intake.