Explore Its Importance To Health: HealthifyMe

Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble essential vitamin that the human body is unable to synthesise. Therefore, it is necessary to intake vitamin C from dietary sources. Vitamin C performs many vital physiological roles in the body. It is a powerful antioxidant that helps with the prevention of diseases such as diabetes, cataracts, atherosclerosis, heart diseases, and cancer.

Recommended Intake of Vitamin C

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the current recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C is as follows:

Age Male Female
0-6 months 40 mg 40 mg
7-12 months 50 mg 50 mg
1-3 years  15 mg 15 mg
4-8 years 25 mg 25 mg
9-13 years 45 mg 45 mg
14-18 years 75 mg 75 mg (pregnancy-80 mg, lactation- 115 mg)
19+ years 90 mg 75 mg (pregnancy-85 mg, lactation- 120 mg)
Smokers require 35 mg/day more vitamin C than non-smokers. 

Health Benefits of Vitamin C

Fights Against Free Radicals

It is no secret that vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants assist in strengthening the immune system. It helps to protect the cells from free radicals. Too many free radicals cause oxidative stress that causes various chronic diseases like cancer, Neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s), Arthritis, Chronic inflammation and age-related eye conditions (like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration). Vitamin C neutralises free radicals and prevents cellular damage. Studies claim it has free radical scavenging and pro-oxidative factors.

Regulates High Blood Pressure

Vitamin C assists in reducing high blood pressure by acting as a diuretic. It encourages the kidneys to remove excessive sodium and water from the body and relaxes the blood vessel walls, lowering blood pressure. Scientific studies indicate that taking vitamin C supplements can lead to a decrease in both the upper (systolic) and lower (diastolic) numbers of your blood pressure reading. In simpler terms, it can help in lowering both the higher and lower values when you measure your blood pressure.

Fights Heart Diseases

Vitamin C reduces the heart disease risk by lowering high triglycerides or LDL cholesterol levels. It decreases the risks of plaque buildup in arteries, thereby preventing stroke and atherosclerosis. A severe lack of vitamin C resulted in various cardiovascular diseases.  

Reduces Blood Uric Acid Levels

The body releases uric acid as a waste product. Its high concentrations have the potential to crystallise and accumulate in the joints, leading to gout. It causes terrible pain and inflammation in the joints. Studies suggest that vitamin C helps in reducing blood uric acid levels and preventing gout. 

Prevents Iron Deficiency

Iron absorption and iron metabolism depend on vitamin C. By combining with ferric iron to generate a chelate at an acidic pH that is soluble at the alkaline pH of the duodenum; vitamin C helps the body absorb iron. Essentially, this means that vitamin C stops ferrous iron from oxidising to ferric iron by making the stomach’s pH higher. 

Slows Ageing 

Vitamin C’s antioxidant qualities are advantageous for preventing ageing. Vitamin C boosts collagen, which prevents skin sagging. When applied to the skin, it helps new collagen turnover. It also protects skin cell protein from getting damaged. Studies have proved vitamin C serum helps to delay ageing and visible signs of biological skin ageing, giving your skin a fresh, bright, young look. 

Reduces the Risk of Cancer

Vitamin C, as an antioxidant, helps reduce cancer risk by neutralising harmful free radicals that can damage DNA and lead to cancerous mutations. Additionally, it supports the immune system, aiding in the elimination of cancerous cells. While it’s not a direct cancer preventative, a diet rich in vitamin C can contribute to a reduced cancer risk by promoting cellular health and immune system functionality.

Summary

Vitamin C offers a multitude of health benefits. It functions as a potent antioxidant, combating free radicals and protecting against chronic diseases. Furthermore, it aids in regulating blood pressure, lowering cholesterol levels, and preventing plaque buildup in arteries. Vitamin C also lowers uric acid levels, preventing painful conditions like gout. It promotes iron absorption, preventing iron deficiency, and contributes to youthful skin by boosting collagen production. Moreover, its immune-boosting and DNA-protecting properties make it a valuable factor in reducing cancer risk. Overall, vitamin C is a versatile nutrient that supports overall health and well-being.

10 Best Sources of Vitamin C

Below are some of the best sources of vitamin C. 

Citrus Fruits 

Citrus fruits like oranges (53.2 mg/100 g), kiwis (92.7 mg/100 g), lemons (53 mg/100 g), grapefruits (31.2 mg/100 g), and cherries (7 mg/100 g) have an excellent vitamin C content. The antioxidants in citrus fruits contribute to healthy skin by combating free radicals.

Read More: Citrus Superpower: Humble fruits packed with goodness

Berries

Berries like strawberries (58.8 mh/100 g), blueberries (9.7 mg/100 grams), gooseberry (27.7 mg/100 g), raspberries (23 mg/100 g), blackberries (21 mg/100 g) are vitamin-c rich and also suitable for weight-loss diets. 

Pineapple

This sweet, juicy tropical fruit with spiky, leathery skin is excellent in vitamin C. According to USDA, pineapple consists of 47.8 mg/100 gms of vitamin C. It acts as a great addition to various desserts or savoury food items. Bromelain, found in pineapple, may have anti-inflammatory properties and support digestion.

Healthy recipes using pineapple

Bell Peppers

Most people are unaware of the fact that bell peppers have a better vitamin C content than lemons and oranges. USDA states that 100 g of bell pepper contains 128 mg of vitamin C. Therefore, adding it to your diet can provide your body with sufficient vitamin C. 

Guava

Guava is a nutrient-dense tropical food that is amazing to add to your daily diet. Guavas have an excellent vitamin C, antioxidants, potassium, and fibre content. It contains 228 mg per 100 grams. Guava is a good source of dietary fibre, aiding in better digestion and promoting a feeling of fullness, making it ideal for weight management.

Read More: Guava – Benefits, Nutritional Facts, & Healthy Recipes

Papaya

Papaya is rich in vitamin C. It contains 60.9 mg per 100 grams. There are numerous other vital nutrients in papaya. Whether eaten raw or ripe, it has potential health benefits. You can add it to several dishes or desserts. Papaya provides papain, an enzyme that aids digestion and can soothe digestive issues.

Mango

Everyone loves eating mangoes. Mangoes are not only tasty, but this delicious pulpy tropical fruit has a high vitamin C content. USDA states it contains 36.4 mg of vitamin C per 100 g serving. Mangoes have an alkalising effect on the body, which can help maintain a healthy pH balance.

Read More: Mango – Benefits, Nutrition, Calories and Recipes

Lychees

Sweet, small and pulpy lychees have potential antioxidant properties that protect against diabetes, heart diseases, cataracts, oxidative stress, certain cancers, etc. It is high in vitamin C. There is 71.5 mg of vitamin C in 100 g of lychees. 

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are low in calories and high in antioxidants. It also has essential amino acids like valine, lysine, arginine, leucine, etc. There is 17.8 mg of vitamin C in 100 grams of tomatoes. Tomatoes are rich in potassium, which lowers blood pressure and reduces heart disease risk. 

Read More: The Phenomenal Health Benefits of Tomatoes

Watermelon

Watermelons are more than just water and sugar. It has numerous vital nutrients that offer a wide variety of health benefits. Moreover, it is high in antioxidants and vitamins. The vitamin C content of watermelon is high. According to USDA, 100 grams of watermelon consists of 8.1 mg of vitamin C.

Read More: Watermelon – Benefits, Nutrition and Healthy Recipes

Summary

Strawberries, blueberries, gooseberries, raspberries, and blackberries offer a vitamin C boost, making them suitable for weight-loss diets. Low in calories, tomatoes contain 17.8 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams and are high in antioxidants. Papaya, with 60.9 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams, offers various health benefits and versatility in cooking. A nutrient-dense tropical fruit, guava contains a remarkable 228 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. Oranges, kiwis, lemons, grapefruits, and cherries are rich in vitamin C, with varying content levels.

Risks of Vitamin C Overdose 

There are hardly any risks associated with vitamin C-rich foods. Vitamin C overdose is also rare because since it is water soluble, the body excretes the extra amounts within a few hours. However, if one takes vitamin C supplements, possible risks of overdose may occur. Overdose may lead to symptoms such as digestive distress and kidney stones. Moreover, patients who are more prone to kidney stones must be cautious with their vitamin C intake. 

Summary

Vitamin C side effects are rare because since it is water soluble, the body excretes the extra amounts within a few hours. However, overdose may occur by taking vitamin C supplements. That may lead to digestive distress. Moreover, patients who are more prone to kidney stones must be cautious with their vitamin C intake. 

HealthifyMe Suggestion

Heat can reduce the effectiveness of vitamin C as it’s particularly heat-sensitive. To preserve the nutritional value of foods or supplements that contain these vitamins, it’s best to avoid high-temperature cooking or storage. Instead, consider incorporating it into your diet in fresh form. 

So, if you are making lemon tea or poha and want to add lemon it should be added as the last step to get the maximum benefit.

The Final Word

Vitamin C has numerous beneficial roles in the human body. It assists in preventing cellular damage, cancers, and skin ageing, prevents free radical damage, enhances wound healing, and boosts the immune system. Health experts suggest vitamin C also treats colds, flu, allergies, motion sickness, etc. There are various fresh fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C content that are a good fit for your diet to meet the daily vitamin C requirements. However, remember that vitamin C is heat sensitive; therefore, cooking will reduce the vitamin C content. 

Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is just to disperse knowledge and raise awareness. It does not intend to replace medical advice from professionals. For further information, please contact our certified nutritionists Here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is vitamin C, and why is it essential for the body?

A. Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. It is a water-soluble vitamin. It is a potent antioxidant and has several health benefits. The human body is unable to synthesise it. Therefore, it is necessary to intake vitamin C from dietary sources.

Q. What are the primary natural sources of vitamin C?

A. There are various natural sources of vitamin C. They are kiwi, bell peppers, guavas, oranges, tomatoes, lemons, mangoes, papayas, etc. Berries are also very high in vitamin C content. Some examples include strawberry, blackberry, gooseberry, and blueberry.  

Q. Can vitamin C help boost the immune system?

A. Certainly, vitamin C promotes the activity of white blood cells (WBC). It is also a powerful antioxidant. 

Q. How does vitamin C contribute to skin health?

A. Vitamin C’s antioxidant qualities are advantageous to skin health. Moreover, vitamin C boosts collagen and prevents your skin from sagging. It also delays visible signs of biological skin ageing.

Q. Are there potential benefits of vitamin C for wound healing?

A. Vitamin C has wound-healing properties. It is involved in all phases of wound healing as it performs a crucial role in neutrophil apoptosis and clearance. Moreover, it has potential contributions towards tissue healing, repair and regeneration.

Q. Can vitamin C act as an antioxidant in the body?

A. Certainly, vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects the body from oxidative stress. It also fights against free radical damage. Studies have demonstrated vitamin C to be an effective antioxidant that takes part in various vital functions to defend the body from harmful microbes.

Q. Does vitamin C help in the absorption of iron from plant-based sources?

A. Health experts, dieticians, and scientists claim that vitamin C boosts iron absorption in the body from plant sources. For example, it helps with iron absorption from oranges, kiwis, guavas, bell peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, and papaya.

Q. Are there links between vitamin C and cardiovascular health?

A. Absolutely! Vitamin C reduces high triglycerides or LDL cholesterol levels. It decreases the risks of plaque buildup in arteries.

Q. What role does vitamin C play in collagen production?

A. Studies claim vitamin C increases collagen type 1. Collagen is essential for good skin health. When topically applied to the skin, it helps new collagen production.

Q. Can vitamin C support eye health and prevent age-related vision issues?

A. Certainly, vitamin C can support eye health and prevent age-related vision issues, according to studies. It helps prevent cataracts, protects eyes against UV light damage, and avoids age-related macular degeneration.

Q. Are there potential cognitive benefits of vitamin C for brain health?

A. Studies have shown the potential cognitive benefits of vitamin C for brain health. It promotes mental alertness, reaction time, concentration, and memory.

Q. Can vitamin C help reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases?

A. Absolutely! Vitamin C prevents and treats various diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. Health experts suggest vitamin C also treats colds, flu, allergies, motion sickness, and helps in strengthening the immune system and supports wound healing.

Q. Are there interactions or side effects of excessive vitamin C consumption?

A. Vitamin C side effects are rare because since it is water soluble, the body excretes the extra amounts within a few hours. However, overdose may occur by taking vitamin C supplements. That may lead to digestive distress. Moreover, patients who are more prone to kidney stones must be cautious with their vitamin C intake.

Q. How does vitamin C compare to other vitamins and supplements for health?

A. Vitamin C has powerful antioxidants that prevent free radical damage to the cells. Vitamin C supplements are more active, less toxic, and readily absorbable by the body.

Q. What is the recommended daily intake of vitamin C for adults and children?

A. The exact value depends on the age and gender of the individual. The recommended vitamin C for 7 to 12 months is 50 mg. For 1 to 3 years, it is 15 mg. For 4 to 8 years, it is 25 mg; for 9 to 13 years, it is 45 mg. For 14 to 18 years, it is 75 mg (both male and female). For adults above 19 years, 90 mg for males and 75 mg for females.

Research Sources

VitaminC-HealthProfessional

Two Faces of Vitamin C—Antioxidative and Pro-Oxidative Agent

Effects of vitamin C supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

Vitamin C and Heart Health: A Review Based on Findings from Epidemiologic Studies

Vitamin C Intake and Serum Uric Acid Concentration in Men

Treatment efficacy of vitamin C or ascorbate was given as co-intervention with iron for anaemia – A systematic review and meta-analysis of experimental studies.

The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health

The Role of Vitamin C in Cancer Prevention and Therapy: A Literature Review

Data by the US Department of Agriculture on Oranges

Data by the US Department of Agriculture on Kiwi 

Data by the US Department of Agriculture on lemon

Data by the US Department of Agriculture on grapefruit

Data by the US Department of Agriculture on strawberries

Data by the US Department of Agriculture on blueberries

Data by the US Department of Agriculture on gooseberries

Data by the US Department of Agriculture on raspberries

Data by the US Department of Agriculture on blackberries

Data by the US Department of Agriculture on pineapples

Data by the US Department of Agriculture on peppers

Data by the US Department of Agriculture on tomato

Data by the US Department of Agriculture on Guava

Data by the US Department of Agriculture on papaya

Data by the US Department of Agriculture on mango

https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1102668/nutrients

https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/167765/nutrients

Effect of vitamin C and its derivatives on collagen synthesis and cross-linking by normal human fibroblasts

Vitamin C Status and Cognitive Function: A Systematic Review

Vitamin C and the Lens: New Insights into Delaying the Onset of Cataract

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