We have all heard of it, we all know we need to ward off bugs, flu’s, heart disease, and the common cold and to keep us generally healthy. Some even highly recommend it for its fibrous reasons; everyone loves a good toilet stop! But, what is the deal with the infamous Vitamin C? Is it really so important? And if so special, do we need to take supplements, or is there enough in our food?
How exactly could vitamin C possibly prevent heart disease?
Evidence suggests that vitamin C could help protect arteries against damage, slow down the progression of atherosclerosis (the hardening of arteries), and even help keep arteries flexible. Research has also discovered that the people more likely to suffer heart attacks, artery diseases or stroke generally have low vitamin C levels. Could this however, be due to the fact that people who maintain adequate levels of vitamin C, are more aware of their health, and therefore lead healthier lifestyles, with more cardiovascular work, and better diets?
What conditions can Vitamin C help?
Stress is a major problem for many of us. A little bit of stress is healthy, as it boosts the immune system and gives you the adrenalin or cortisol required to function optimally. However, these days’ people really are trying to take on the world and the body’s stress system becomes overloaded, resulting in over stimulated adrenal glands and a depleted immune system. Vitamin C will keep the immune system stronger.
Colds. Vitamin C unfortunately is not a cure for a cold, but studies have proven that it could help prevent further problems or complications like lung infections and pneumonia. So even though you may feel like there is no point supplementing your diet with Vitamin C once you are sick, it may be in your best interest to top it up, so you recover more quickly.
Strokes. There is conflicting research as to whether or not it is purely Vitamin C that helps, but it has been discovered that people who eat more fruit and vegetables will have higher blood levels of Vitamin C, and therefore a higher intake of other nutrients, which are beneficial to health.
Aging Skin. Vitamin C has an affect on the cells both inside and outside of the body. Wrinkles, dryness and an overall better skin-aging appearance are associated with people who consume more Vitamin C.
Reduction in Inflammation, a reduction in cancer and a reduction in Cardiovascular disease.
Due to the hype around Vitamin C many people feel that the more they take the better they will feel. Whilst generally this is the case, it is important to note that Vitamin C in large doses could interact negatively with other nutrients in the body, especially if other health conditions are already present.
Too much vitamin C would be anywhere from 1,000 – 3,000mg per day. This may lead to cramping, B12 destruction, diarrhea and a decline in copper absorption. If someone has an iron-overloading disease and consumes too much vitamin C the iron absorption may become too high. The chewable Vitamin C tablets can erode enamel on teeth if used regularly, therefore buffered chewable tablets are much less damaging. Large amounts could also cover up the presence of blood in the stool, distorting the results of tests that are designed to detect colon cancer.
Should we be taking it as a supplement or as a food form?
Some scientists believe that the Vitamin C intake we currently consume should be doubled, that the recommended amounts are too low (currently 500-1000mg per day is recommended as adequate).
Most agreeing that fresh vegetables and fruit contain enough to double that recommended amount, if consumed adequately at each meal. Many people do not have a diet that is even remotely as balanced as this, therefore supplemental use of Vitamin C is highly recommended for these cases.
As well as previously discussed, it's important to consider that even small deficiencies of vitamin C can lead to fatigue, lethargy, and malaise, while healthier vitamin C levels can help reduce inflammation and high blood pressure.
In conclusion, I believe that eating a diet high in vitamin C is ideal, with supplementation as a back up for a diet low in real food.
Do you supplement with Vitamin C?