Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an essential vitamin, meaning it can’t be produced by the body. Nevertheless, it has many roles in your body and has been linked to impressive health benefits. It is water-soluble and found in many fruits and vegetables, including oranges, strawberries, kiwi fruit, bell peppers, broccoli, kale and spinach. Fresh-squeezed orange juice or fresh-frozen concentrate are also good sources of Vitamin C. While it’s commonly advised to get your vitamin C intake from foods, many people turn to supplements to meet their needs such as Vitamin C that is made in a laboratory. Historically, Vitamin C was used for preventing and treating scurvy. These days, Vitamin C is most commonly used for preventing and treating the common cold. 

Vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. Humans, unlike most animals, are unable to synthesize vitamin C endogenously, so it is an essential dietary component.

Vitamin C is required for the biosynthesis of collagen, L-carnitine, and certain neurotransmitters; vitamin C is also involved in protein metabolism. Collagen is an essential component of connective tissue, which plays a vital role in wound healing. Vitamin C is also an important physiological antioxidant [3] and has been shown to regenerate other antioxidants within the body, including alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E). Ongoing research is examining whether vitamin C, by limiting the damaging effects of free radicals through its antioxidant activity, might help prevent or delay the development of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, and other diseases in which oxidative stress plays a causal role. In addition to its biosynthetic and antioxidant functions, vitamin C plays an important role in immune function and improves the absorption of nonheme iron, the form of iron present in plant-based foods. Insufficient vitamin C intake causes scurvy, which is characterized by fatigue or lassitude, widespread connective tissue weakness, and capillary fragility.

The intestinal absorption of vitamin C is regulated by at least one specific dose-dependent, active transporter. Cells accumulate vitamin C via a second specific transport protein. In vitro studies have found that oxidized vitamin C, or dehydroascorbic acid, enters cells via some facilitated glucose transporters and is then reduced internally to ascorbic acid. The physiologic importance of dehydroascorbic acid uptake and its contribution to overall vitamin C economy is unknown.

Oral vitamin C produces tissue and plasma concentrations that the body tightly controls. Approximately 70%–90% of vitamin C is absorbed at moderate intakes of 30–180 mg/day. However, at doses above 1 g/day, absorption falls to less than 50% and absorbed, unmetabolized ascorbic acid is excreted in the urine. Results from pharmacokinetic studies indicate that oral doses of 1.25 g/day ascorbic acid produce mean peak plasma vitamin C concentrations of 135 micromol/L, which are about two times higher than those produced by consuming 200–300 mg/day ascorbic acid from vitamin C-rich foods. Pharmacokinetic modeling predicts that even doses as high as 3 g ascorbic acid taken every 4 hours would produce peak plasma concentrations of only 220 micromol/L.

The total body content of vitamin C ranges from 300 mg (at near scurvy) to about 2 g. High levels of vitamin C (millimolar concentrations) are maintained in cells and tissues, and are highest in leukocytes (white blood cells), eyes, adrenal glands, pituitary gland, and brain. Relatively low levels of vitamin C (micromolar concentrations) are found in extracellular fluids, such as plasma, red blood cells, and saliva.

How does it work?

Vitamin C is required for the proper development and function of many parts of the body. It also plays an important role in maintaining proper immune function.

  • May help reduce the risk of chronic disease

    • Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant that can strengthen your body’s natural defenses 

    • Antioxidants are molecules that boost the immune system. They do so by protecting cells from harmful molecules called free radicals

    • When free radicals accumulate, they can promote a state known as oxidative stress, which has been linked to many chronic diseases 

    • Studies show that consuming more Vitamin C can increase your blood antioxidant levels by up to 30%. This helps the body's natural defenses fight inflammation

  • May help with high blood pressure

    • Approximately one-third of American adults have high blood pressure

    • High blood pressure puts you at risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death globally

    • Studies have shown that Vitamin C may help lower blood pressure in those both with and without high blood pressure.

    • An animal study found that taking a vitamin C supplement helped relax the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart, which helped reduce blood pressure levels

    • Moreover, an analysis of 29 human studies found that taking a Vitamin C supplement, on average, reduced systolic blood pressure (upper value) by 3.84 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (lower value) by 1.48 mmHg in healthy adults.

    • In adults with existing high blood pressure, Vitamin C supplements reduced systolic blood pressure by 4.85 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 1.67 mmHg, on average (9Trusted Source).

    • While these results are promising, it’s not clear if the effects on blood pressure are long-term. Moreover, people with high blood pressure should not rely on vitamin C alone for treatment.

  • May help lower risk of heart disease​​

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