Experts say vitamin C is one of the safest and most effective nutrients available. While it may not cure the common cold, vitamin C benefits may include prevention of immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling.
Most people use 500 mg of vitamin C per day to achieve healthy results. This is well above the RDA of 75-90 mg per day for adults, so unless you can eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, you may need to take a dietary supplement of vitamin C to get all the benefits.
For most people, it is impractical to eat the required amount of fruits and vegetables on a consistent basis, and taking a supplement once a day is safe, effective and easy to do.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is essential for the growth, development and repair of all body tissues. It is involved in many bodily functions, including collagen formation, iron absorption, proper immune system function, wound healing, and maintenance of cartilage, bones and teeth.
Vitamin C is one of many antioxidants that protect against damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals, as well as toxic chemicals and pollutants, such as cigarette smoke. Free radicals can build up and promote the development of health conditions such as cancer, heart disease and arthritis.
Vitamin C is not stored in the body (excess amounts are excreted), so overdosing is not a problem. However, it is still important not to exceed the safe upper limit of 2,000 mg per day to avoid stomach upset and diarrhea.
Water-soluble vitamins must be consistently provided in the diet to maintain healthy levels. Eat vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables raw, or cook them in minimal water so you don't lose some of the water-soluble vitamins in the cooking water.
According to recent studies, vitamin C may provide health benefits in the following areas.
1. Stress. Vitamin C deficiency is associated with many stress-related disorders. It is the first nutrient to be depleted in alcoholics, smokers and obese people. Because vitamin C is one of the stress-sensitive nutrients, maintaining vitamin C levels can be a desirable sign of overall health.
2. Colds. For the common cold, vitamin C is not a cure, but some studies suggest it may help prevent more serious complications. "There is good evidence that taking vitamin C for colds and flu can reduce the risk of further complications, such as pneumonia and lung infections.
3. Stroke. Although research has been conflicting, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people with the highest blood levels of vitamin C had a 42 percent lower risk of stroke than those with the lowest levels. Apparently, people who ate a lot of fruits and vegetables had higher levels of vitamin C in their blood.
4. Skin aging. Vitamin C affects cells inside and outside the body, and its antioxidant properties may be beneficial when it comes to aging. Higher vitamin C intake is associated with a lower appearance of wrinkles, dry skin, and a better appearance of aging skin.
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