Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is a nutrient which is widely regarded as a one stop solution for almost all types of diseases. It is critical for overall development and maintenance of the body. Dietary vitamin C is essential since our body does not have the capacity to produce it and neither can it be stored in the body. If the production is hampered for some reason, there is no way to cope with the loss except through dietary intake of this nutrient.
It is essential for the growth and healing of cells and tissues of the body. It also plays a major role in the prevention of scurvy, boosts the immune system, prevents and treats the common cold, lowers hypertension, and is capable of curing cataracts and treating lead toxicity. Additionally, it is also required for treatment of cancer, maintaining the elasticity of skin, combating stroke, controlling symptoms of asthma and healing wounds.
Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin and a potent antioxidant which plays a major role in making blood vessels, muscles, joints, tendons etc. stronger. It also improves the capacity of the body to absorb iron from food and helps boost the immune system.
The following are the major health benefits derived from vitamin C/Ascorbic Acid:
1. Vitamin C Prevents Scurvy:
Scurvy is a disease which is caused by the deficiency of vitamin C in the body. Scurvy results in presentation of symptoms like the weakening of bones, blood vessels and connective tissues. The reason for this is that Ascorbic acid is necessary for the production of collagen, which is an integral part of these organs. Hence in the absence of vitamin C, collagen is not produced, which results in the weakening of these tissues.
2. Vitamin C Treats Common Cold:
Ascorbic acid is an immune system booster. It helps protect from various diseases like coughs and colds. It enables the body to increase absorption of iron from plant based sources which results in the strengthening of body’s defenses against infection. It also reduces the unpleasant effects associated with cold and cough since it acts as an antihistamine. Antihistamines reduce levels of histamines which results in the reduction of the duration of the infection.
3. Vitamin C Helps In Lowering Hypertension:
Hypertension is a disorder which increases the chance of a person developing cardiovascular diseases. Vitamin C intake helps in reduction of blood pressure to normal levels, which helps mitigate the dangers of cardiovascular issues like heart attacks and strokes.
It does so by ensuring the dilation of blood vessels to allow the blood to flow freely through them rather than exert high pressure. This effectively reduces the occurrence of issues like congestive heart failure, chest pain, atherosclerosis and angina pectoris.
Vitamin C is also an antioxidant which neutralizes the effect of substances called free radicals which are responsible for several disorders including those of the cardiovascular system. It prevents free radicals from degrading the walls of the arteries which can result in plaque formation, and effectively reduces the occurrence of heart disease.
4. Vitamin C Can Prevent Lead Toxicity:
Lead toxicity is an urban health issue prevalent in children who are exposed higher than normal amounts of lead. This results in severely debilitating symptoms like stunted growth, learning disabilities, low IQ, and several physical deformities including kidney failure and increased blood pressure in later stages.
Vitamin C can help to dramatically reduce the lead levels in the blood which might help alleviate some of the symptoms and even delay death in certain cases.
5. Vitamin C Improves cellular health:
The presence of vitamin C in the body means that the production of collagen in the body is boosted. Collagen is an essential component of the cell wall, connective tissue, joints, skin, bones, and various organs.
This means that consumption of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C helps cells and tissues recover much faster than normal. The presence of vitamin C also helps to heal sore muscles in conjunction with the action of collagen, which means that individuals can recover faster from stress injuries.
6. Vitamin C Cures Cataracts:
Vitamin C can be a cure for certain visual conditions like a cataract. Reduction in vitamin C levels has been known to result in a corresponding increase in cataracts in the eye. Increased levels of vitamin C help in increasing the supply of blood to the affected areas of the eye. Studies have shown that a 1000mg dosage of vitamin C stops cataracts and improves vision.
7. Vitamin C Prevents/Cures Cancer:
Vitamin C is a known antioxidant. Antioxidants essentially bind to entities called as free radicals. Free radicals are known to oxidize various components of cells and degrade them, which is a major cause of occurrence of cancer. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C prevent DNA damage caused by the action of free radicals and prevent harmful mutations which may otherwise cause the development of cancerous cells.
It has been known to prevent cancers of the mouth, colon, lung, throat, esophagus, and stomach. In addition to this, it also plays a major role in the reactivation of vitamin E, which is another well-known antioxidant. Essentially, vitamin C doesn’t attack the cancer cells directly but equips the immune system with the necessary tools to do so.
8. Vitamin C Treats Diabetes:
Regular intake of vitamin C is known to reduce insulin to more manageable levels in diabetes patients due to its ability to process glucose and insulin. It has also been shown to reduce the spikes and drops of insulin in patients. This helps the body recover from the stresses of huge fluctuations in insulin levels during the course of the day. This considerably improves the quality of life of a diabetes patient and prevents other complications from arising.
9. Vitamin C Beautifies Skin:
Vitamin C helps fight against age spots, wrinkles and fine lines in the skin due to the anti aging properties conferred upon it by virtue of being an anti-oxidant. It also fights against the negative effects of UV rays on the skin and helps to reduce discoloration. This also prevents the occurrence of sunburns and skin cancer.
Vitamin C is also known to promote the production of elastin which strengthens cells and makes skin firmer, stronger, and makes it look younger.
Excessive oral ingestion of vitamin C occurs usually when vitamin C supplements are ingested indiscriminately. This is known to cause diarrhea, nausea, heartburn, vomiting, and headache. Hence, care should be taken to limit the intake of Ascorbic acid to recommended levels.