Benefits of Vitamin C for Your Overall Health

Not only is vitamin C a well-known component of your immune system, it is also necessary for collagen, the main structural protein found in connective tissue. A healthy dose of vitamin C will protect your body from infection and maintain healthy bones and teeth, as well as quicken the body’s ability to repair wounds.

Recommended Daily Intake

Our bodies don’t store vitamin C, excess vitamin C is flushed out through our kidneys.  Many doctors suggest taking 500 milligrams a day, which can often be found in daily multivitamins or vitamin C supplements. However, don’t exceed more than 2,000 milligrams per day — too much vitamin C may cause stomach irritation.

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble nutrient that is vital to all creatures.  Its antioxidant properties protect cells and their DNA from damage and mutation. It supports the body’s immune system, the first line of defense against cancer, and prevents certain cancer-causing compounds from forming in the body.

Vitamin C reduces the risk of getting almost all types of cancer. It appears that this nutrient doesn’t directly attack cancer that has already occurred, but it helps keep the immune system nourished, enabling it to battle the cancer.

Benefits of Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that slows the rate of free-radical damage — free radicals are unstable molecules that damage collagen and cause skin dryness, fine lines and wrinkles. New research shows that ascorbic acid 2-phosphate, a derivative of vitamin C, not only neutralizes free radicals, but also reverses DNA damage.

Ascorbic acid contains many of the same health benefits as naturally occurring vitamin C.  Perhaps the largest benefit of these nutritional elements is their antioxidant value. Antioxidants help to fight off viruses and infections.

Collagen is found in fibrous tissues such as skin, ligaments and tendons, as well as in the bones, blood vessels, the cornea of the eye, and in the gut.  Collagen is vital for strengthening blood vessels and giving skin its elasticity and strength. The degradation of collagen causes wrinkles and other skin issues.

You can apply topical vitamin C to your skin to encourage collagen production and fight free radicals. Look for a facial cleanser or moisturizer that contains the L-ascorbic acid form of vitamin C to ensure the vitamin penetrates your skin layers.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in mammals, accounting for around 30% of the protein content of the human body. It is often considered to be the “glue that holds the body together”.

Natural Vitamin C Needs a Boost

The problem with naturally occurring vitamin C is that it breaks down easily. Vitamin C in fruits and vegetables is often lost in cooking. As soon as the foods are heated, the natural vitamin C begins to break down. Nutritional experts report that vitamin C can also be lost simply through storing fruits or vegetables before consumption.

Because of the sensitive nature of natural vitamin C, lots of people may not get enough, even if they include fruits and vegetables in their diets. This is why food manufacturers have chosen to add vitamin C qualities back into food and drink using ascorbic acid. The ascorbic acid represents the active vitamin C in most processed foods.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, ascorbic acid and vitamin C are similar enough in composition to be treated as equivalent chemical compounds.

Vitamin C may also be helpful for:

  • Boosting immune system function
  • Maintaining healthy gums
  • Improving vision for those with uveitis (an inflammation of the middle part of the eye)
  • Treating allergy-related conditions, such as asthma, eczema, and hay fever (called allergic rhinitis)
  • Reducing effects of sun exposure, such as sunburn or redness (called erythema)
  • Alleviating dry mouth, particularly from antidepressant medications (a common side effect from these drugs)
  • Healing burns and wounds
  • Decreasing blood sugar in people with diabetes
  • Some viral conditions, including mononucleosis

Some excellent sources of vitamin C are oranges, green peppers, watermelon, papaya, grapefruit, cantaloupe, strawberries, kiwi, mango, broccoli, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, and citrus juices or juices fortified with vitamin C.

Raw and cooked leafy greens (turnip greens, spinach), red and green peppers, canned and fresh tomatoes, potatoes, winter squash, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, and pineapple are also rich sources of vitamin C.

Vitamin C is sensitive to light, air, and heat, so you’ll get the most vitamin C if you eat fruits and vegetables raw or lightly cooked.

Healthy and Unhealthy Fats

To understand healthy and unhealthy fats, you need to know the names of the players and some information about them.

There are four major types of fats:

  • monounsaturated fats
  • polyunsaturated fats
  • saturated fats
  • trans fats

Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are known as the “healthy fats” because they are good for your heart, your cholesterol, and your overall health.

Monounsaturated Fats

  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)
  • Peanut butter

Polyunsaturated Fats

  • Soybean oil
  • Corn oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds
    Flaxseed
  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines)
  • Soymilk
  • Tofu

Saturated fats and trans fats are known as the “unhealthy fats” because they increase your risk of disease and elevate cholesterol.

Appearance-wise, saturated fats and trans fats tend to be solid at room temperature (think of butter or traditional stick margarine), while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tend to be liquid (think of olive or corn oil).

Saturated Fats

  • High-fat cuts of meat (beef, lamb, pork)
  • Chicken with the skin
  • Whole-fat dairy products (milk and cream)
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Ice cream
  • Palm and coconut oil
  • Lard

Trans Fats

  • Commercially-baked pastries, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, cakes, pizza dough
  • Packaged snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn, chips)
  • Stick margarine
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Fried foods (French fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, breaded fish)
  • Candy bars

How much fat is too much depends on your lifestyle, your weight, your age, and most importantly the state of your health. The USDA recommends that the average individual:

  • Keep total fat intake to 20-35% of calories
  • Limit saturated fats to less than 10% of your calories (200 calories for a 2000 calorie diet)
  • Limit trans fats to 1% of calories (2 grams per day for a 2000 calorie diet)

Concerned about your weight or heart health?  Instead of avoiding fat in your diet, try replacing saturated fats and trans fats with good fats. This could also mean replacing some of the meat you eat with beans and legumes, or using olive oil rather than butter.