Ascorbic acid, best known as vitamin C, is one of the most potent natural substances available to man. Being an incredibly powerful natural antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, vitamin C is essential for good health. Since our body cannot produce it itself, it is left to our diet to supply us with vital amounts of ascorbic acid. It is important to remember that vitamin C deficiency can cause serious health problems ranging from premature teeth loss and poor wound healing to inflammation and increased cancer risks.
The benefits of getting enough vitamin C from either dietary sources of supplements, or both, range from increased absorption of iron and anemia prevention and management to less wrinkles, less severe respiratory tract infections, better recovery following disease, fast wound healing, anti-allergy properties, beneficial action on the endocrine system, lower risks of cardiovascular disease, better energy levels and a feeling of an overall improved health.
Vitamin C performs a myriad of functions within our body:
1) It has antioxidant activity.
2) Prevents cardiovascular disease.
3) Helps in the production of neurotransmitters and hormones.
4) Stimulates our immune system, making it respond more aggressively to external threats.
5) Last but not least, it supports collagen production.
Vitamin C has remarkable antioxidant activity, meaning it protects our body from the health damages caused by reactive oxygen molecules called free radicals, which cause the so-called oxidative stress. Free radicals can be found everywhere from the the air we breathe to the invisible blue light our eyes take in and can damage practically every cell in our body. In time, cell damage accumulates, causing inflammation and disrupting normal cell activity.
This sets the tone for more serious medical conditions such as atherosclerosis, heart disease, stroke, even cancer. Because of its antioxidant properties, vitamin C repairs cell damage and prevents it from reaching tissue levels. Also, vitamin C-rich foods help the body accumulate another potent antioxidant, vitamin E. As far as cardiovascular health is concerned, vitamin C helps reduce hypertension. By lowering high blood pressure, this antioxidant-vitamin prevents any further cardiovascular damage that might arise from the previously mentioned condition. Moreover, due to its regenerative effects, it maintains healthy blood vessels by binding to cholesterol and toxins and eliminating them.
In addition to lowering blood pressure, it ensures the proper dilation of blood vessels. This means cholesterol cannot easily obstruct arteries and ensures an adequate blood supply to the heart, thus preventing a condition called angina pectoris (chest pain).
A generous vitamin C intake stimulates the immune system. This means we get to enjoy strong, healthy teeth and gums, strong bones and an overall better resistance to colds and infections by increasing white blood cell production. Vitamin C is a great antibacterial and a natural antihistamine, reducing the most unpleasant effects of the common cold: inflammation, stuffy nose, muscle pain and so on. Also, vitamin C helps wounds heal faster.
Vitamin C can help us look fresh, young and radiant as well by stimulating collagen production. Collagen is the main structural protein in our body, also known as the thing that holds everything together. Without ascorbic acid our body could not produce collagen. And without collagen, let’s just say that wrinkles would be the last of our worries.
Last but not least, vitamin C significantly reduces lead levels in the blood. People living in large urban areas have significantly higher lead blood levels. Lead toxicity may cause severe behavioral changes as well as kidney damage and high blood pressure. Vitamin C helps eliminate toxins from the blood, thus removing any dangerous amounts of lead.
Overall, vitamin C has wonderful health benefits and meeting daily requirements should be a priority. I must admit I take 1.000 mg (1 g) of vitamin C almost daily and, honestly, I have never felt better. I feel more energetic, I even lost some weight, I have a growing appetite and the quality of my sleep has improved significantly. I know many people believe that vitamins are useless and that supplements may even prove harmful, but I ask you to think about how nutrients support our health.
Everyday stress, pollution, hasty eating, processed foods, all take a toll on our health and we need vitamins, in whatever form they come in, to keep us healthy. If you are against synthetic supplements, yet have a deficiency, at least find out which foods you should eat in order to supply your body with what it needs. Do the same in every aspect of your life: read, read and read some more. Stay informed and make informed decisions.