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The Complete Guide to Vitamin C

In 1747, in order to find a remedy for sailors suffering from scurvy, physician James Lind conducted what is now considered the first controlled clinical trial. 

He divided the 12 sick sailors into six pairs, giving different ingredients to each: vinegar, cider, sulfuric acid, seawater, oranges, and lemons. Within just one week, he found that the sailors who received oranges and lemons were making a significant recovery.  

The result of that experiment: early evidence that the vitamin C found in citrus fruits is an important part of any diet.  

Now, vitamin C is considered one of the most crucial, effective nutrients, widely used as a nutritional supplement. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits and uses of vitamin C.

What is Vitamin C? 

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant that aids the body’s tissue growth, development, and repair. It has been used to treat and prevent a wide range of conditions and is most commonly associated with relieving symptoms of the common cold. 

Vitamin C is a water-soluble essential vitamin. In other words, it’s not found or stored in the body, meaning that we must obtain the necessary amounts of vitamin C through our diet.  

Signs of Vitamin C Deficiency 

Fortunately, because vitamin C can be found in so many types of fruits and veggies, vitamin C deficiency is rare in the United States. However, deficiencies can still occur and are most commonly seen in malnourished adults. 

As demonstrated by James Lind’s sailors, a lack of sufficient vitamin C can lead to scurvy—fatigue, weakness, anemia, easy bruising, poor wound healing, hair loss, bleeding and inflamed gums, and loss of teeth. 

You may be prone to vitamin C deficiency if:

  • You smoke or are exposed to secondhand smoke.

  • You have medical conditions such as gastrointestinal issues, kidney disease, or certain forms of cancer.

  • You don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables.   

Vitamin C Health Benefits

Vitamin C has been used to treat and prevent a wide range of conditions, including but not limited to some forms of cancer, cataracts and glaucoma, and respiratory issues. 

This is because it boasts a variety of benefits including:  

Boosts Immune System

One of the most well-known benefits of vitamin C is its immune-boosting properties. 

Vitamin C is an antioxidant, meaning it can strengthen the body’s natural defenses by protecting the cells from harmful free radicals. It also encourages the production of white blood cells which protect the body against infection. 

Vitamin C can protect against chronic illnesses and may even prevent some forms of cancer. While research isn’t conclusive about the effectiveness of vitamin C when treating specific diseases, it certainly doesn’t hurt to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet!  

Supports Cognitive Function

Studies have shown that oxidative stress can negatively affect the brain and nervous system, increasing the risk of dementia. 

Because vitamin C is a strong antioxidant, it can help to protect your memory and overall cognitive function as you age. In fact, low levels of vitamin C have been linked to a greater risk of cognitive decline, so be sure to protect your body and brain by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables!  

Promotes Healthy Skin

If you frequent the skincare section of your pharmacy, you’ve likely come across serums and toners infused with vitamin C—and for good reason. Because vitamin C is an antioxidant, it can protect the skin from toxins both internally and externally. 

Vitamin C can promote quicker wound healing and keep the skin from bruising easily. When applied topically, vitamin C can also strengthen skin barriers to improve the appearance of wrinkles and dark spots, diminish redness, and protect against sun damage.  

Prevents Iron Deficiency 

One of vitamin C’s many health benefits is that it is directly involved with the body’s iron absorption process. (Remember how anemia is a symptom of scurvy?)  

Whether you’re eating lots of fruits and vegetables or taking supplements, consuming vitamin C helps your body absorb iron from your diet, reducing the risk of anemia or iron deficiency.

Lowers Blood Pressure 

Did you know that approximately one-third of Americans have high blood pressure? With heart disease being the leading cause of death, it makes sense that we want to take necessary steps to collectively lower our blood pressure levels.  

Vitamin C can help to relax the blood vessels and may also have a mild diuretic effect, both of which can help to lower blood pressure levels.  

How to Get Vitamin C

Generally speaking, the recommended daily amount of vitamin C is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men—but keep in mind that this varies depending on your health and diet. Because the body doesn’t store vitamin C, you don’t necessarily need to worry about overdoing it. That said, exceeding 2,000 mg in one day could lead to an upset stomach.  

Some ways to incorporate vitamin C into your diet and routine include: 

Food 

The simplest way to get your daily dose of vitamin C is to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet.  

We typically think of oranges and lemons as the primary source of vitamin C, but you can also find vitamin C in: 

  • Strawberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Tomato juice 
  • Red cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Bell peppers 

…and more! You may even find foods fortified with vitamin C, which will be indicated on the product label.  

Skincare Products 

If you want to reap the benefits of topically-applied vitamin C, invest in some skincare products infused with this powerful antioxidant. 

Vitamin C is most commonly found in serums, but can also be found in toners and other skincare products. Just be sure that you’re purchasing products from a reputable brand. If you’re unsure about a product, talk to your dermatologist for individualized insight.  

Supplements

Supplements are another great way to add vitamin C to your diet, though they shouldn’t act as a replacement for healthy, nutrient-rich meals. 

Find vitamin C supplements in the form of pills, chewable tablets, gummies, and more. Try Go Organic’s Immune Support Gummies, for example. These tasty gummies are made with natural ingredients including elderberry, vitamin C, and zinc to promote immune health and support overall wellness. 

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