Fruits and vegetables are the best food sources of vitamin C. Eating a variety of these healthful foods will help people meet their daily requirements. Health benefits of vitamin C are mentioned below.
Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, plays many important roles in the body. In particular, it is key to the immune system, helping prevent infections and fight disease.
The human body does not store vitamin C, so people need to get this nutrient from their diet every day. It dissolves in water, and any excess leaves the body in urine.
This article looks at the foods richest in vitamin C and how to include them in the diet. It also discusses the vitamin’s function and health benefits.
Why is vitamin C important?
Vitamin C is an antioxidant. It protects the body’s cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals can cause changes in cells and DNA that can lead to illnesses, including cancer.
This vitamin also plays a key role in almost all of the body’s tissues. Without vitamin C, the body cannot make collagen, a protein that is necessary for building and maintaining:
- healthy bones
- digestive tract tissues
Vitamin C is an important part of the immune system, which defends against viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. Studies show that low levels of vitamin C lead to problems with the immune system and other illnesses.
Vitamin C deficiency can result in a condition called scurvy. This deficiency is relatively rare in the United States.
A vitamin C deficiency, or scurvy, may cause:
- joint pain
- bleeding gums
- problems with wound healing
- tooth loss
Health benefits of vitamin C intake
The following sections discuss some of the most important benefits of vitamin C.
Boosting heart health
Some evidence suggests that vitamin C may help lower the risk of heart disease or its complications.
One study indicates that people who consume more vitamin C have a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
Other researchers are not convinced that vitamin C alone improves heart health. However, it is clear that eating more fruits and vegetables can help boost the health of the heart by providing a range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
Strengthening the immune system
Vitamin C has an immune-boosting effect that can help the body fight off illnesses, such as the common cold.
One study found that vitamin C helped prevent pneumonia and supported tetanus treatment. Also, findings of an animal study suggest that vitamin C plays a role in reducing lung inflammation that results from the flu.
Lowering the risk of some cancers
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, so it can prevent damage caused by free radicals. This may help prevent diseases such as cancer.
Investigations into whether vitamin C effectively prevents cancer have yielded mixed findings. However, the results of a few studies have been positive:
- A meta-analysis found that vitamin C was linked to a lower risk of certain types of brain tumor.
- Another study determined that high doses of vitamin C impaired the growth of colorectal tumors in mice.
- A different meta-analysis observed that higher vitamin C intake was associated with a lower risk of lung cancer.