a special feature from Debra Orringer, Clinical Physiologist*

When the cough, sniffles, and aches start, many people load up on extra vitamin C. Helping boost the immune system is a familiar benefit of the vitamin. But do you know what else vitamin C is good for? Or how much vitamin C you need? Research has unveiled new health benefits of Vitamin C.

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which is needed in the body to help with bones, blood vessels, muscles and more. Water-soluble means that it doesn’t build up in body tissues for later use. Rather, the body uses vitamin C when it needs it and then flushes the rest out. The benefit of this is that there is very little risk of toxicity from supplementation. However, that also means we have to constantly supply the body with vitamin C to reach effective concentrations to reap the health benefits it can provide.

Vitamin C has been shown to be a powerful antioxidant, meaning it helps protect the body from both external and internal stressors. Because of this protection of the body, Vitamin C has many health benefits in addition to the most well known: helping with the common cold.

Basic Benefits of Vitamin C

  1. Protection from the common cold: According to the Mayo Clinic, Vitamin C helps reduce the risk of developing colds in extreme environments.

  2. Better absorption of iron has been shown: Iron is needed in the body to help make the protein hemoglobin. Without hemoglobin, your blood vessels can’t carry the oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body.

  3. Exercise Recovery: Vitamin C may help prevent damage to muscle caused by exercise and may improve physical ability. Physical activity can be very stressful on the body; and during strenuous activity, the body demands energy to perform, ultimately leading to increased oxidative stress and tissue breakdown. Researchers found that 250 mg of Vitamin C significantly reduced muscle damage and oxidative stress markers in trained female athletes. Reducing exercise-induced oxidative stress and muscle damage could allow athletes to recover faster and improve their endurance and power output.

  4. Heart Health and High Blood Pressure: With Vitamin C’s amazing ability to combat oxidative stress, this can have significant benefits for heart health, particularly in maintaining the integrity of the cells that line blood vessels. In 2012, researchers from John Hopkins University found statistically significant improvements in blood pressure in subjects who supplemented with 500 milligrams of vitamin C.

  1. Stress: According to WebMD, research has shown that Vitamin C can also benefit those with immune systems compromised due to stress. Stress can manifest in our bodies in so many different ways, and stress in today’s society is pretty common.

  2. Skincare and Skin Aging: Oxidative stress (there’s that word again) from environmental (UV exposure, pollution, toxins) and internal (stress, poor diet, genetics) sources can cause damage to your skin and accelerate skin aging. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined links between nutrient intakes and skin aging in women aged 40-74. It found that higher vitamin C intakes were associated with a lower likelihood of a wrinkled appearance, dryness of the skin, and a better skin-aging appearance.

  3. Reducing Inflammation in the body: This is a big one as well. Inflammation can be a good thing in terms of helping to heal parts of your body like an injury or infection when it is acute and localized. Systemic inflammation is inflammation that is present throughout your body and can lead to many autoimmune diseases if not taken care of; research has shown that adequate amounts of Vitamin C can help reduce this type of inflammation.

How much Vitamin C do you need? The majority of research shows that 500mg per day is sufficient, and it is about 75% higher than the recommended daily allowance. Some professionals recommend 1000mg daily, as it has been shown to really contribute to tissue saturation. Remember, what our bodies don’t need we flush out.

Having said all of this, remember Vitamin C is not an ‘end all/be all’ cure. Healthy lifestyles, healthy diets, exercise and reducing stress play a large role as well.

*Debra Orringer holds a Masters of Science degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology and numerous upper level certifications. Debra spends a great deal of her time presenting, lecturing and educating others in the realm of wellness around the country.  She owns her successful Wellness Company, where she has helped hundreds achieve the health they strive for.  She can be reached at 321-749-8719, debo@321getfitt.com.

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