What Is Vitamin C Good For? 10 Studies That Show 4 Impressive Vitamin C Benefits

When you were a kid, you may remember growing up and your mom telling you to drink your glass of orange juice because it was loaded with Vitamin C. Well, mom was right. Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a very important nutrient found in foods such as oranges, kiwis, and green peppers. Interrelated to many important bodily functions, studies have shown that vitamin C benefits immunity, better vision, and even protects against heart disease. We’re going to talk more about the benefits of vitamin C and how this immune booster can be a great addition to your daily regimen.

What Is Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin. Water-soluble vitamins must be dissolved in water and are delivered to the body’s tissues but are not well stored, so they must be taken daily either through food or supplements. 

Vitamin C has been one of the most well researched vitamins over the past 50 years, with over 53,000 studies since 1968. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, protecting your body against free radical damage and cumulative oxidative stress. It can be found in foods such as oranges, kiwis, red peppers and other citrus fruits and vegetables. It also serves many important biological functions such as synthesizing collagen to aid in repairing wounds, maintaining cartilage, bones, and teeth.

Vitamin C Benefits

1. Acts As An Immune Booster

Aside from being discovered for its therapeutic use in the prevention of scurvy, the most widely known health benefit of vitamin C, is in the prevention and treatment of the common cold and boosting immunity. A wide range of clinical trials have shown that while vitamin C does not exhibit a significant prophylactic effect of the cold, it does reduce the severity and duration of symptoms [R].

A 2013 review showed that a daily dose of 1,000 – 2,000mg of vitamin C  can shorten the duration of a cold by 8% in adults and 14% in children [R].

Vitamin C is essential in the skin’s defense system. Vitamin C acts synergistically with other nutrients to increase the skin barrier function and enhances protective activities of immune cells. It also encourages the production of white blood cells and reduces pro-inflammatory cytokines protecting the body against infection.

Next time you’re feeling sniffly, grab yourself some vitamin C gummies and a tall glass of OJ!

2. May Improve Your Eye Health

Studies have shown that vitamin C may benefit eye health, due to its antioxidant effects. Evidence shows a combination of nutrients, specifically vitamin c, e, beta-carotene, and zinc, collectively known as the AREDS formulation (age-related disease studies) may reduce the risk of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

The Age-Related Eye Disease Study which was initiated in 1990 by the National Eye Institute, involved 11 centers in the United States and enrolled 5000 patients. The study found that with a combination of vitamins c, e, beta-carotene, and zinc produced a 25% reduction in risk of progression to advanced AMD. 

Although the benefits associated with age-related macular degeneration cannot be attributed to vitamin C alone, the combination of nutrients has been shown to slow the progression of AMD by 25% and loss of visual sharpness and clarity by 15% [R].

Ascorbate is found in the lens of the eye. Studies have shown that supplementation with just 2g of vitamin C per day was associated with a nearly 40-fold increase in lens ascorbate [R].  In the Nutrition Vision Project (NVP), a subset of the Nurses' Health Study, showed that women aged ≤60 years, with consumption of at least 363 mg/day vitamin C was associated with a 57% decreased risk of developing a cortical cataract compared with women who consumed less than 140 mg/day vitamin C [R].

RELATED ARTICLE The Best Supplements For Eye Health

3. May Lower The Risk Of Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. An estimated 18 million people die each year from cardiovascular disease, representing 32% of all deaths.

Numerous studies have shown that vitamin C benefits cardiovascular health, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Chronic ascorbic acid deficiency has been linked to impaired cholesterol metabolism and enhanced accumulation of cholesterol [R] This observation is further supported by the fact that vitamin C lowers cholesterol and reduces the risk of developing heart disease.

Additionally, a meta-analysis published in the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition found that vitamin C supplemented at a dose of 500mg per day for 8 weeks reduced systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure [R].

4. May Help Treat Cancer

It’s been proven that high doses of vitamin C may have a significant preventive role in cancer. This hypothesis and theory was first investigated in 1974. 10,000mg of vitamin C was administered to 100 terminally ill cancer patients and compared their outcome with 1,000 cancer patients who were given conventional therapy. It was observed that 10.3 % cancer patients receiving vitamin C survived while all patients on conventional therapy without vitamin C died [R].Several other studies have also confirmed this same outcome and results. A study conducted on Japanese patients with uterus cancer receiving 5–30 g of vitamin C that these patients survived six times longer than those supplementing with less than 4g per day. When comparison was made between those who supplemented with or without vitamin C, survival rate was 15 % higher in those supplemented with vitamin C [R].

A meta-analysis of 785 randomized controlled trials which included 62,619 participants investigated the efficacy of vitamin C in the prevention of cancer. The meta-analysis found no evidence to support the use of vitamin C supplements for prevention of cancer. While this meta-analysis clearly investigated vitamin C as an indication in the prevention of cancer, studies do show vitamin C as potential therapeutic treatment option [R].

Therefore, vitamin C may help in the treatment but not in reducing the risk of cancer.

Vitamin C Supplements, Dosage, and Side Effects

Vitamin C can be taken in a variety of different forms such as

  • Tablets
  • Chewables
  • Gummies
  • Liquid
  • Powder
  • Capsules

The daily suggested dose to elicit the discussed health benefits is between 500-2000mg. Your body does however have an upper limit when it comes to absorption. Studies have shown that absorption decreases by 50% when taken in excess of 1,000mg. Adverse effects are possible with mega doses greater than 3,000mg including kidney stones, diarrhea, and will produce excess levels of iron in the blood. Absorption does not differ when obtained from foods or supplements. Therefore, a daily dose of 500mg is suggested for optimal absorption and strengthening immunity.

Vitamin C Benefits: Takeaway

Overall, adding vitamin C to your daily diet, is a great way to enhance your health and wellness. Adding vitamin C rich foods to your diet such as kiwis, oranges, and red peppers, or taking a daily supplement can help strengthen your immune system as well as reduce your risk for chronic disease states, by eradicating free radicals. Our favorite way of getting the recommended dally dose of vitamin C is grabbing some Swolverine Vitamin C gummies!   


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References

Elwood PC, Lee HP, St Leger AS, Baird M, Howard AN Br J Prev Soc Med.A randomized controlled trial of vitamin C in the prevention and amelioration of the common cold.1976 Sep; 30(3):193-6.[PubMed] [Ref list

Hemilä H, Chalker E. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;(1):CD000980. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000980.pub4 

Age-Related Eye Disease Study Research Group. A randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial of high-dose supplementation with vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and zinc for age-related macular degeneration and vision loss: AREDS report no. 8Arch Ophthalmol. 2001;119(10):1417-36. doi:10.1001/archopht.119.10.1417

Taylor A Jacques, PF Nadler D, et al. Relationship in humans between ascorbic acid consumption and levels of total and reduced ascorbic acid in lens, aqueous humor, and plasma. Curr Eye Res. 1991;10: 751 – 759. PubMed

Karen A Weikel, Caren Garber, Alyssa Baburins, Allen Taylor, Nutritional modulation of cataract, Nutrition Reviews, Volume 72, Issue 1, 1 January 2014, Pages 30–47, https://doi.org/10.1111/nure.12077

Aggravation of cholesterol induced hyperlipidemia by chronic vitamin C deficiency: experimental study in guinea pigs. Kothari LK, Sharma P Acta Biol Hung. 1988; 39(1):49-57.[PubMed] [Ref list]

Antioxidant vitamin intake and coronary mortality in a longitudinal population study.

Knekt P, Reunanen A, Järvinen R, Seppänen R, Heliövaara M, Aromaa A Am J Epidemiol. 1994 Jun 15; 139(12):1180-9. [PubMed] [Ref list]

Juraschek SP, Guallar E, Appel LJ, Miller ER 3rd. Effects of vitamin C supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 May;95(5):1079-88. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.027995. Epub 2012 Apr 4. PMID: 22492364; PMCID: PMC3325833.

Supplemental ascorbate in the supportive treatment of cancer: Prolongation of survival times in terminal human cancer. Cameron E, Pauling L Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1976 Oct; 73(10):3685-9. [PubMed] [Ref list]

Prolongation of survival times of terminal cancer patients by administration of large doses of ascorbate.Murata A, Morishige F, Yamaguchi H Int J Vitam Nutr Res Suppl. 1982; 23():103-13.[PubMed] [Ref list]

Lee B, Oh SW, Myung SK. Efficacy of Vitamin C Supplements in Prevention of Cancer: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Korean J Fam Med. 2015 Nov;36(6):278-85. doi: 10.4082/kjfm.2015.36.6.278. Epub 2015 Nov 20. PMID: 26634093; PMCID: PMC4666862.

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