Vitamin C is easily the most popular of the vitamins, and most of us have heard to some extent, that it protects us from sickness. I remember eating candy-like vitamin C supplements as a child, and seeing countless commercials about it’s importance in health. Scientifically speaking, however, Vitamin C meets the hype. Let’s learn more about this important nutrient.
Vitamin C is a water soluble nutrient, meaning that is quickly flushed from the body. Because of that, we need to consume what our body needs on a daily basis. It is important that we do so, because Vitamin C is needed for some very important things:
- Our body needs it to produce Collagen. This is the main protein in our bones, skin and muscles and is basically the glue which holds us together. That is why Vitamin C deprivation will quickly lead to teeth falling out, muscle deterioration and death.
- It is also needed by the body to produce L-Carnitine, which is an amino acid used in protein production.
- It has metal chelating properties with Iron, which we need to produce our red blood cells.
As for our immune system, Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which neutralizes free radicals in our body. Studies have also shown that vitamin C helps to increase antioxidants in the body 4 ,5.
Vitamin C supports our innate immunity as it is also used in the production and maintenance of our phagocytes, pathogen-eating cells that defend the body.
It is especially important in the adaptive immunity. Vitamin C is key in the proliferation and differentiation of the lymphocytes or white blood cells. Once we experience a disease, our white blood cells transform so we are better protected from similar threats. Studies have shown that those with Vitamin C deficiencies developed less specialized white blood cells after infections. 1
Finally, studies have linked good vitamin C intake with reduced risk of heart disease, gout, dementia, high blood pressure, nerve deterioration and much more. This is likely for the above reasons and others we have yet to discover.
Foods Rich In Vitamin C
Like any vitamin, it is important that we get our daily supply of Vitamin C from food and not from supplements.
We are blessed with an abundance of fruits rich in this nutrient, such as lansones, calamansi, pineapple, mangosteen, banananas and papayas.
It is also good to know that we can easily get our daily vitamin C requirement from our vegetables as well. Leafy greens such as Kulitis, Kamote Tops, Alugbati and Malunggay will easily provide what you need.