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What Is Vitamin C And Can It Help Prevent Illness?

What Is Vitamin C And Can It Help Prevent Illness?

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an essential vitamin that is present in some foods. Vitamin C supplements are often marketed as immunity supplements due to their role in protecting cells, but vitamin C also has a few other roles in the body - let's dive into the importance of vitamin C! 

What Is Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help reduce free radical damage in the body. Free radicals can damage cells in the body and contribute to chronic inflammation, it is therefore important to have antioxidants regularly for the protective and anti-inflammatory effects. Vitamin C deficiency can lead to excessive bleeding, poor immunity, and scurvy - which is characterised by fatigue, connective tissue weakness, and fragile capillaries which can cause bleeding.

Benefits Of Vitamin C Supplementation

Vitamin C is important for a number of functions in the body. For instance, it helps maintain skin and joint health! Vitamin C is needed for collagen production - collagen is an essential component in connective tissue. High levels of vitamin C are also found in skin, where they are an important structural component, providing protection and aiding repair - a vitamin C supplement may therefore make a good addition to your skincare routine!

Vitamin C also improves the absorption of non-heme iron - this is the form of iron that is found in plant based foods. As non-heme iron is less bioavailable compared to heme-iron, it can be useful to ensure a source of vitamin C is taken alongside non-heme iron rich foods to enhance absorption, especially if you eat a plant based diet!

Vitamin C has been found to play a role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease - individuals with high dietary intakes of vitamin C have been found to have a reduced risk of stroke. Diets high in fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C are also associated with a lower risk of developing heart disease! 

Does Vitamin C Prevent You From Getting Ill

Vitamin C is often associated with immune support, and it is common to take a vitamin C supplement during wintertime or illness to “boost” immunity - but does vitamin C actually have these effects? Vitamin C is important to have in your daily diet due to its role as an antioxidant as it is shown to have cell protective properties. Vitamin C can help move immune cells to an infection site, which can help speed up recovery, and vitamin C also protects tissues from damage due to its antioxidant effects!

Research has shown that supplementing high doses of Vitamin C is effective in reducing cold incidence as well as the duration and severity of illness. Findings show that vitamin C reduced the duration of colds in adults by 8%, and in children by 14% - this effect is most impactful when supplementation starts within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms. 

How To Include More Vitamin C In Your Diet

Oranges are infamous for containing vitamin C, but did you know bell peppers are actually richer in vitamin C compared to oranges? Vitamin C is also found in a variety of fruits and vegetables such as other citrus fruits, potatoes, broccoli, and berries, small amounts are also found in milk and dairy products. Most people will meet their vitamin C needs by consuming a healthy, balanced diet. 

Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin and is rapidly lost, and it is therefore necessary to regularly include vitamin C rich foods in your diet to make sure levels in the body stay consistent - symptoms of deficiency can appear after as little as just 1 month of low vitamin C intake! 

The recommended daily intake of vitamin C for adults is 40mg, which you should be able to get through diet alone, and smokers are recommended an additional 35mg vitamin C per day to compensate for the increased oxidative stress smoking causes!

The Bottom Line

Immunity, energy, cell protection… vitamin C is an essential for a range of bodily functions, and low intakes can be detrimental to our health! Vitamin C is present in fruits and vegetables, which emphasises the need to include these in our meals on a daily basis. If you’re currently trying to enhance iron absorption, rebuild some collagen, or think you might need a little vitamin C top up - why not check out the MOBU vitamin C range!

Do you take a vitamin C supplement? Let us know in the comments below!
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