Ten reasons to take vitamin C
You know that vitamin C is good for your immune health, but did you know it does much more than that? In fact there are lots and lots of reasons that you might want to consider taking vitamin C. Here are ten of our favourites.
1. Vitamin C supports immune function
As you're probably aware, vitamin C is a nutrient that contributes to the healthy functioning of the immune system. For these purposes it's often taken in combination with zinc, which also plays an essential role in immune health.
Together, these nutrients may help to support your immune defences and could even help to reduce the frequency and duration of cold and flu symptoms.
2. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant
As one of the body's important water-soluble antioxidants, vitamin C helps to scavenge or ‘quench’ free radicals, which are volatile molecules generated by excessive exposure to pollutants in your food, water or environment.
When present to excess, free radicals may have adverse effects on the healthy functioning of your cells and body tissues, so maintaining adequate antioxidant intake is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle.
When used as an antioxidant, vitamin C is again often combined with zinc, which also has antioxidant properties.
Vitamin C also helps to extend the lifespan of some other antioxidants. For example, it helps to regenerate vitamin E after it has been depleted by its own free radical-fighting activities.
3. Vitamin C has antihistamine properties
If you suffer from allergies, you'll be interested to know that in vitro research (laboratory research) indicates that Vitamin C has mild antihistamine properties.
Vitamin C combines well with Elderflower, which has traditionally been used in Western herbal medicine to relieve symptoms of nasal congestion in hay fever and sinusitis.
Laboratory research suggests that Elderflower also has anti-inflammatory properties. This may help to explain its long held reputation in traditional Western herbal medicine as a mucus decongestant for the upper respiratory tract that may have benefits in colds and flu such as helping to relieve congestion and ease symptoms like sore throat, cough and fever.
4. Vitamin C supports blood vessel health
If laid out end-to-end, the arteries, veins and capillaries in your body would stretch for thousands of kilometres.
Vitamin C plays a key role in helping to maintain the healthy functioning and structural integrity of these blood vessels, and supporting this aspect of cardiovascular wellbeing.
5. Vitamin C helps maintain healthy gums
As your dentist has probably explained to you, healthy gums are vital if you want to maintain your oral and dental health.
In addition to your regular tooth-brushing and flossing routine, consider taking vitamin C, which can contribute to gum health.
6. Vitamin C is essential for collagen production and connective tissue health
Part of the reason that Vitamin C is important for both blood vessel and gum health is because it's essential for the production of collagen, a specialised form of connective tissue that helps keep your blood vessels, gums and other parts of your body strong and flexible.
Without these qualities, tissue can lose its integrity and dysfunction can start to occur.
7. Vitamin C aids skin healing and wound repair
In addition to helping to maintain the collagen components of skin tissue, vitamin C is important for the body's healing processes when skin is damaged and needs to be repaired.
In this aspect of its function, it again works closely with zinc, which is also important for maintaining the healthy structure and function of the skin.
8. Your dietary intake of vitamin C may be inadequate
These days most of us are fully aware of the importance of eating a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables in order to make sure that we get enough vitamin C.
However, if you're prone to skipping fresh fruit and veggies or if you're following a diet that minimises your fruit intake (as many low-carb diets do, for example), your vitamin C intake may be lower than desirable.
9. Vitamin C aids iron absorption
Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, a nutrient that many Australian women and teenage girls consume in less than the recommended dietary amounts according to research from the Australian Bureau of Statistics1. Pregnant women, vegetarians and vegans should also pay close attention to their iron status.
10. You may need more vitamin C if you're stressed
As if you didn't already have enough to deal with when you're under pressure, did you know that your body’s requirements for vitamin C may increase during this time?
This is particularly important to be aware of if you're one of those people who responds to stressful times by skipping meals, going off your food or at the other extreme, turning to junk food and making poor nutritional choices.
What should you look for in a vitamin C supplement?
Vitamin C is naturally acidic, which means that high doses may cause tummy trouble for some people. To avoid this issue look for a formula that contains vitamin C in buffered forms such as calcium ascorbate and sodium ascorbate.
Given that vitamin C and zinc work closely together in so many ways, it may also be beneficial to look for a vitamin C formula that contains zinc, ideally in the form of zinc glycinate, which is more readily absorbed and utilised by the body than other forms of zinc (such as zinc sulfate or zinc gluconate).
And if you're taking Vitamin C to help you manage colds, consider a formula that also contains Elderflower for its traditional mucous decongestant properties based on its traditional use in Western herbal medicine.
Vitamin supplements should not replace a balanced diet. Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional.
1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Food Standards Australia New Zealand. Australian Health Survey: Usual nutrient intakes 2011-12. Commonwealth of Australia, 2015