Vitamin C is an essential vitamin which means your body doesn’t produce it, you have to eat it.
Now for women the recommended intake is 75 milligrams per day and for men it’s 90 milligrams per day.
Typically you will meet those requirements if you eat fruit and vegetables regularly.
Four of the main ways that vitamin C benefits the body
Number one Vitamin C helps prevent iron deficiencies by improving iron absorption.
Iron is an important nutrient that has a variety of functions. It is essential for making red blood cells and transporting oxygen throughout the body.
Now interestingly, vitamin C can help improve the absorption of iron from the diet. It assists in converting iron that is poorly absorbed, such as plant-based sources of iron, into a form that is easier to absorb.
This is especially useful for people on a meat-free diet as meat is one of our main sources of iron.
Now what’s interesting is if you just eat 100 milligrams of vitamin C with an iron containing food it can increase the absorption of that iron by up to 70%.
As a result we know that vitamin C supplementation can reduce the risk of anemia and people prone to iron deficiency.
Number two, Vitamin C fights heart disease risk factors, potentially lowering heart disease risk.
Many factors increase risk of heart disease including high blood pressure, high LDL or bad cholesterol, low levels of HDL, good cholesterol and high triglyceride levels.
Vitamin C may help reduce these factors which may reduce heart disease risk.
For example, an analysis of nine studies with a combined total of almost 300,000 participants found that after 10 years, people who took at least 700 milligrams of vitamin C daily had a 25% lower risk of heart disease than those who did not take a vitamin C supplement.
Interestingly, another analysis of 15 studies found that consuming vitamin C only from foods, not supplements, was linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
However, scientists are unsure if people who consumed vitamin C-rich foods also followed a healthier lifestyle than people who took the supplement.
So therefore, it’s not really clear if the differences were due to vitamin C or other aspects of the diet.
It seems like if you consume 500 milligrams or more per day of a vitamin C supplement it can reduce your risk of heart disease if you have those risk factors.
However, if you already eat a diet rich in vitamin C then it seems like it won’t make much difference.
Number three, Vitamin C boosts immunity by helping white blood cells function better.
Vitamin C is involved in many parts of the immune system.
First, vitamin C helps encourage the production of white blood cells known as lymphocytes and phagocytes, which help protect the body against infection.
Second, vitamin C helps these white blood cells function more effectively while protecting them from damage by potentially harmful molecules, such as free radicals.
Third, vitamin C is an essential part of the skin’s defense system. It is actively transported to the skin where it can act as an antioxidant to help strengthen the skin’s barriers.
Studies have also shown that taking vitamin C may shorten wound healing time.
Number four, could reduce blood uric acid levels and help prevent gout attacks.
Gout is a type of painful arthritis like really painful arthritis that affects about 4% of the US population.
Gout symptoms appear when there’s too much uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is a waste product produced by the body. At high levels, it may crystallize and deposit in the joints.
Interestingly, several studies have shown that vitamin C may help reduce uric acid in the blood and as a result, protect against gout attacks.
For example, this study followed almost 50,000 health men over 20 years to see if vitamin C intake was linked to developing gout.
Now interestingly, people who took a vitamin C supplement had a 44% lower gout risk.
Additionally, an analysis of 13 clinical studies found that taking a vitamin C supplement over 30 days significantly reduced blood uric acid compared to placebo.
Although the authors did conclude that future trials are needed to determine whether vitamin C supplementation can reduce hyperuricemia which is high uric acid levels, or prevent incident and recurrent gout.
Ultimately, vitamin C is very important for your health and the majority of us do get enough from a healthy diet.
That said, if you are at risk of iron deficiency, if you have a weak immune system or if you experience recurrent gout attacks then I would definitely consider vitamin C supplementation.