5 Health Benefits of Vitamin C and Recommended Doses
Health Benefits of Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a crucial micronutrient with well-known potential health advantages.
In fact, since the 1970s, the consumption of vitamin C-rich fruits like oranges has been recommended as a natural remedy for preventing the common cold and certain chronic illnesses.
Recent research has revealed numerous additional ways in which vitamin C can enhance overall health.
Continue reading to explore more of the primary benefits of vitamin C, recommended intake amounts, and the risks associated with insufficient consumption in your daily diet.
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin present naturally in various food sources, including fruits and vegetables such as red peppers, oranges, and grapefruits.
Since the body cannot produce vitamin C on its own, it is considered an essential nutrient, requiring consumption through foods or supplements.
Functions of Vitamin C in the Body:
Vitamin C plays a vital role in various aspects of health. As an antioxidant, it neutralizes harmful compounds called free radicals in the body.
Moreover, vitamin C may:
- Maintain the health of the skin, bones, cartilage, and blood vessels
- Enhance iron absorption
- Promote immune function
- Aid in wound healing
Five Potential Health Benefits of Vitamin C:
Consuming sufficient amounts of vitamin C in your daily diet may improve several health conditions. Here are some expert-backed benefits associated with vitamin C:
As a potent antioxidant, vitamin C protects cells from the harmful effects of free radicals.
It not only safeguards against oxidative stress but also enhances immune cell function and strengthens the skin’s natural barrier. While conflicting research exists, vitamin C may slightly reduce the duration of common cold symptoms.
Vitamin C may decrease serum uric acid levels, potentially protecting against gout flare-ups.
It might also prevent the development of gout, as evidenced by a study showing reduced risk in individuals supplementing with vitamin C.
Vitamin C aids heart health by binding free radicals, which helps regulate blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Studies have shown that vitamin C supplementation can significantly lower blood pressure levels in individuals with hypertension. It can also reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels in certain groups.
Vitamin C improves the overall appearance of the skin, increasing elasticity. It acts as an antioxidant, protecting the skin from UV damage.
Additionally, vitamin C boosts collagen production, which tends to decline with age, resulting in wrinkles and other signs of aging.
Vitamin C enhances the absorption of nonheme iron, predominantly found in plant-based foods.
This increased absorption may help prevent iron deficiency anemia, a condition affecting the production of healthy red blood cells.
Although research is ongoing, vitamin C supplementation alongside iron intake has shown potential benefits.
Recommended Vitamin C Intake:
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C varies depending on age and sex, with higher amounts recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding individuals.
The National Institutes of Health provide the following RDA guidelines for vitamin C:
[Table indicating age-specific RDAs for males, females, pregnancy, and lactation is shown.]
|0-6 months||40 milligrams||40 milligrams||–||–|
|7-12 months||50 milligrams||50 milligrams||–||–|
|1-3 years||15 milligrams||15 milligrams||–||–|
|4-8 years||25 milligrams||25 milligrams||–||–|
|9-13 years||45 milligrams||45 milligrams||–||–|
|14-18 years||75 milligrams||65 milligrams||80 milligrams||115 milligrams|
|19+ years||90 milligrams||75 milligrams||85 milligrams||120 milligrams|
|*Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) for Vitamin C chart (National Institutes of Health)|
Additionally, individuals who smoke regularly require an additional 35 milligrams of vitamin C daily compared to non-smokers.
Potential Risks of Excessive Vitamin C Intake:
Consuming high doses of vitamin C is unlikely to cause harm since excess amounts are excreted through urine.
However, intakes exceeding 3,000 milligrams per day may lead to adverse effects such as diarrhea, increased risk of kidney stones (for those with kidney disease or a history of kidney stones), and iron overload in individuals with hemochromatosis.
The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for adults is 2,000 milligrams per day.
Risks of Vitamin C Deficiency:
Inadequate consumption of vitamin C can result in scurvy, a serious condition requiring treatment.
Symptoms may include bleeding or inflamed gums, fatigue, skin discoloration, impaired wound healing, hair abnormalities, tooth loss, depression, and anemia.
While scurvy is uncommon in the U.S., certain groups such as smokers, those with restricted diets or food allergies, and individuals with specific health conditions may be at higher risk of deficiency, such as iron overload or inflammatory bowel disease (IBS).
Sources of Vitamin C:
Fruits and vegetables are the best dietary sources of vitamin C. Examples of foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, and kiwis), strawberries, bell peppers, tomatoes, white potatoes, and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower).
Consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables daily, with at least five servings, can typically meet the recommended intake of over 200 milligrams of vitamin C.
It is essential to obtain adequate amounts of vitamin C in your daily diet, as it plays a crucial role in wound healing and nutrient absorption, among other functions.
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