Why We Need Vitamin C
You've undoubtedly heard it by now: Vitamin C is an essential vitamin to help with your body's healing process. When we are feeling down, most of us turn to vitamin C or foods and supplements that provide it. Vitamin C is considered one of the most effective and safest nutrients, according to many experts. Though it may not be the cure for the common cold, there are some surprising benefits and reasons behind why we need vitamin C you may not realize.
We're excited to take an advanced look at why we need vitamin C, what it does, and the best raw foods that are an excellent source of this much-needed nutrient.
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin naturally present in some foods, can be added to others and is readily available in supplement forms. Unlike many animals, as humans, we're unable to synthesize vitamin C, so we must acquire this essential vitamin through our diet.
What Does Vitamin C do?
As the body does not store vitamin C, we need to consume it every day to maintain its proper levels. Our bodies need vitamin C for many functions. An example of a few of them are:
- It helps your body produce collagen, L-carnitine, and some neurotransmitters.
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant. Antioxidants help remove unwanted substances known as reactive oxidative species (ROS) from the body.
- Vitamin C helps you absorb iron.
- It boosts your immune system.
- Vitamin C enhances wound healing.
What Vitamin C can do as an Antioxidant
As an antioxidant, vitamin C can help protect your cells from free radicals. Free radicals, including reactive oxygen species, are molecules with one or more unpaired electrons. Examples of free radicals include:
- Nitric oxide radical
- Hydroxyl radical
Our cells contain small structures called mitochondria, which work to generate energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Mitochondria combine oxygen and glucose to produce carbon dioxide, water, and ATP. Free radicals arise as byproducts of this metabolic process, and external substances, such as cigarette smoke, pesticides, and ozone can also cause free radicals in the body.
When free radicals overwhelm our antioxidant defenses, they can promote a state known as oxidative stress(1)
. Long-term oxidative stress can lead to developing a wide range of chronic conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
How Vitamin C Can Help Prevent Iron Deficiency
We need iron as it is an essential element for blood production. Around 70% of our entire body's iron is found in our red blood cells called hemoglobin and our muscle cells called myoglobin.
Vitamin C supplements can help you improve the absorption of iron from your diet(2)
. Vitamin C assists your body in converting iron that is usually poorly absorbed, such as plant-based sources of iron, and helps turn it into a form that is easier to absorb. This makes vitamin C especially useful to those on a meat-free diet, as meat is one of the most significant sources of iron.
If you suffer from low iron levels, consuming more vitamin C-rich foods or taking a supplement may help improve it.
How Vitamin C Can Boost Immunity
One of the more common reasons many people take vitamin C supplements is to help boost their immunity. Vitamin C is involved in multiple parts of the immune system, making it a significant factor in influencing its health.
- Vitamin C assists in encouraging the production of lymphocytes and phagocytes, otherwise known as white blood cells, which protect the body from infections.
- Vitamin C then helps these white blood cells perform far more effectively while keeping them safeguarded from damage that could be done by potentially harmful molecules, such as free radicals.
- Vitamin C is actively transported to your skin, where it acts as an antioxidant to help strengthen your skin's barrier, becoming a crucial part of the defense of your skin.
How Vitamin C Can Help Wounds Heal
Collagen is vital to help maintain the health of our skin. Vitamin C can be found in your dermis and the epidermis of your skin, strengthening and forming blood vessels, skin, and even bones. Collagen is a protein made of amino acids, and these amino acids are the building blocks of your body. Our natural collagen production decreases as we age, estimated to be roughly 1% each year once we pass our 20s.
The health benefits of maintaining good collagen levels include strengthened skin, diminished fine lines and wrinkles, stronger hair and hails, and an increase in the production of collagen.
What does Vitamin C have to do with all this? It is vitamin C that is needed for the synthesis and maintenance of collagen. It also acts much like a glue to bind collagen fibers together. Furthermore, vitamin C helps in the process of regenerating vitamin E.
What Raw Foods Should I Eat for the Best Sources of Vitamin C?
According to the ODS (Office of Dietary Supplements), the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C for adults is:
- 90 milligrams for males
- 75 milligrams for females
- 85 milligrams when pregnant
- 120 milligrams when breastfeeding
- An additional 35 milligrams for those who smoke
There are several raw foods that you can add to your diet that will help boost the vitamin C you need in your body. Here is just a few:
- Guava – 377 milligrams per serving
- Sweet red pepper – 190 milligrams per serving
- Tomato juice – 170 milligrams per serving
- Orange juice – 124 milligrams per serving
- Sweet green pepper – 120 milligrams per serving
- Hot green chili pepper – 109 milligrams per serving
- Oranges – 5 milligrams per serving
- Strawberries – 6 milligrams per serving
- Broccoli – 2 milligrams per serving
Vitamin C is such a necessary component for our good health. Because it is found in so many plant foods, eating a healthful diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables should provide a person with enough to prevent a deficiency. But if you struggle to get the nutrients you need from your diet and still think you may not be getting the vitamin C you need, especially when battling an infection, please look at our fantastic selection of supplements. Our selection includes our Liposomal Vitamin C or our Vitamin C Powder to help get the essential vitamins you need even more accessible and more convenient than ever.
- What is Oxidative Stress? https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10693912/
- Effects of Vitamin C on Iron Absorption: http://www.icppharm.com/News-Resources/Articles/Effects-of-Vitamin-C-on-Iron-Absorption.aspx