We often hear about the invaluable properties of Vitamin C and its positive impact on literally the whole body. But how does this statement apply to reality?
Vitamin C for immunity
We all know that Vitamin C is the basis for caring for our immune system. The theory that Vitamin C can fight diseases and infections began in the 1970s, when Linus Pauling, Nobel laureate, published information about preventing common cold by taking high doses of Vitamin C. Since then, a lot of research has been done on whether Vitamin C can help in fight with cold and flu. The final results showed that taking more than 200 mg of Vitamin C daily, significantly reduces the susceptibility to cold and flu and what is more prevents them from being caught from the environment. This is because Vitamin C facilitates the absorption of iron and stimulates the action of white blood cells also called leukocytes, and thus strengthens the body’s resistance to bacterial infections and viruses.
By definition, an antioxidant is a compound that stops the oxidation of another compound. Oxidation is a naturally occurring chemical process that causes loss of electrons. The compound that has been oxidised is called free radical (free radicals cause, among others, cancer, atherosclerosis and premature aging). They are very reactive – which means they want to connect with another compound as soon as possible. It is worth mentioning that stress plays a main role in increasing the number of free radicals. Ascorbic Acid, which is a powerful and effective antioxidant, comes to the rescue. It can act directly, in reaction with aqueous radicals and antioxidants, and indirectly, restoring the antioxidant properties of the fat-soluble Vitamin E (not without reason called the vitamin of youth). Vitamin C is a component that takes part in the general protective mechanisms of antioxidants in cells and tissues, thus helping to maintain healthy organism and keep youth for longer.
Prevention of cardiovascular diseases
Cardiovascular diseases are the most common cause of premature death in developing countries – more than all types of cancer combined. Thanks to the research, it turns out that we can change it by simply supplementing Vitamin C. It is a safe way to provide protective benefits to the heart and at the same time prolong life. Extensive research has confirmed that Vitamin C drastically reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease development – by as much as 66 percent! It was a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, in which 108 men were divided into 3 groups and given various daily doses of Vitamin C. In the group with highest risk were nicotine addicts, i.e. people with the highest incidence rate for all types of heart disease. Researchers found out in the study that men who received the highest dose were two-thirds less susceptible to heart disease than others. This is a really encouraging result. Another study in which researchers have observed patients for more than a decade has shown that supplementation with Vitamin C at a dose of 700 mg per day reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 25 percent. Moreover, a study of 11,000 adults confirmed that taking 800 mg of Vitamin C daily reduces the incidence of heart disease by 42% in men and 25% in women.
In an observational study from 2003 conducted by the prestigious Harvard Medical School and published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 85,000 nurses were observed over a period of 16 years. The study found that women who supplemented Vitamin C had a 28 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease risk. Although the exact mechanism by which Vitamin C provides such incredible benefits for the heart is unknown, scientists believe that this is related to the ability of the vitamin to prevent and relieve endothelial dysfunction and stiffening of the artery walls that may impede blood flow. Vitamin C is therefore particularly effective if we want to take care of the health of our heart.
Vitamin C after myocardial infarction
It is known that it is never too late to take an advantage of the protective effects of Vitamin C on heart. Researchers believe that the antioxidant properties of Vitamin C can help to reduce oxidative damage caused by heart attacks. Studies have shown that Vitamin C significantly reduces the degree of heart muscle damage after a heart attack, reducing the risk of future attacks. Vitamin C also improves electrical conductivity in the entire myocardium, reduces the risk of stroke and prevents destructive changes in shape and work of the heart. In addition, Vitamin C can increase exercise tolerance after a heart attack – while reducing the oxidation of dangerous LDL cholesterol. Animal studies suggest that Vitamin C may even help to reduce damage caused by ischemia-reperfusion injury, a type of oxidative injury after a heart attack in which the blood previously cut off by the attack returns back to this area. Researchers also believe that Vitamin C can help to protect against atrial fibrillation – a type of irregular heartbeat.
Vitamin C in the treatment of cataracts
Cataract is the most common eye disease in the world. Up to 20 million people of different age suffer from it. It appears naturally with age and causes eye lens to become cloudy. “Although we cannot completely avoid developing cataracts, we are able to delay their development and prevent them from worsening by using a diet rich in Vitamin C”, said Professor Chris Hammond, lead scientist at Ophthalmology Journal and Professor of ophthalmology at Kings College, London.
In one of his studies, which included over 1,000 pairs of 60-year-old British women’s twins, the researchers found out that people who consumed large amounts of Vitamin C in their diet had one-third lower risk of developing cataracts over the next 10 years. Unfortunately, the study showed that delivering Vitamin C from synthetic supplements did not reduce the risk. The study is the first one to show that diet and lifestyle can play a more important role than genetics in cataract development and its severity. Based on the results, the Hammond’s team now believes that genetics accounts for 35% of the risk of cataract progression, while diet and other environmental factors represent the remaining 65%. “The most important finding was that the intake of Vitamin C in the diet protects against the development of cataracts” – said Professor Hammond. The strength of Vitamin C in reducing cataract risk comes from its antioxidant properties. The liquid inside of the eye usually has a high content of Vitamin C, which helps preventing oxidation that leads to clouding of the eye lens. A diet rich in Vitamin C increases the amount of vitamin in the eye fluid, providing additional protection against cataracts.
Vitamin C for healthy and beautiful skin
Thanks to the fact that Vitamin C has strong antioxidant and anti-aging properties, it helps to alleviate problems both before and after the occurrence of skin problems. After introducing to our daily skin care, well-composed products containing Vitamin C, we can provide a number of benefits. Evens out skin tone, covers the skin from visible effects of impurities, significantly improves the hydration and maintain a younger look of the skin for longer. These features make it worth reaching for cosmetics with Vitamin C.
If we talk about the health of the skin, we cannot forget to mention collagen, because Vitamin C is necessary for its production. This is why collagen supplements that occur in the form of capsules mostly contain Vitamin C. Even in case of healthy people, the amount of produced collagen begins to decrease when we reach the age of 20, and our bodies do not produce Vitamin C for ourselves. They are in a constant need. Our body must perpetually produce collagen. When it is produced a complex series of events happens, inside and outside of the cell. Vitamin C is active inside the cell, where it hydroxylates (adds hydrogen and oxygen) to two amino acids: proline and lysine. This helps to create a precursor molecule called procollagen, which is later packaged and transformed into collagen outside of the cell. Without Vitamin C, the formation of collagen is disrupted, causing many different problems throughout the body. We can mention here for example bone decalcification throughout the entire skeleton, loss of skin elasticity and firmness, problems with the production of synovial fluid and as a result pain in movement, but also the prolapse of disc, rupture of ligament or tendon. What’s more, collagen is a natural protective barrier against harmful toxins and bacteria.