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The Health Benefits of Vitamin C continued...

"People who consume more fruit and vegetables will not only have higher [blood] levels of vitamin C, but higher intake of other nutrients potentially beneficial to health, such as fiber and other vitamins and minerals," study researcher Phyo K. Myint said in an email interview.

4. Skin Aging. Vitamin C affects cells on the inside and outside of the body.  A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined links between nutrient intakes and skin aging in 4,025 women aged 40-74. It found that higher vitamin C intakes were associated with a lower likelihood of a wrinkled appearance, dryness of the skin, and a better skin-aging appearance. 

Other studies have suggested that vitamin C may also:

  • Improve macular degeneration.
  • Reduce inflammation.
  • Reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

 

Vitamin C's Role in the Body

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is necessary for the growth, development and repair of all body tissues. It's involved in many body functions, including formation of collagen, absorption of iron, the immune system, wound healing, and the maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.

Vitamin C is one of many antioxidants that can protect against damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals, as well as toxic chemicals and pollutants like cigarette smoke. Free radicals can build up and contribute to the development of health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.

Vitamin C is not stored in the body (excess amounts are excreted), so overdose is not a concern. But it's still important not to exceed the safe upper limit of 2,000 milligrams a day to avoid stomach upset and diarrhea.

Water-soluble vitamins must be continuously supplied in the diet to maintain healthy levels. Eat vitamin-C-rich fruits and vegetables raw, or cook them with minimal water so you don't lose some of the water-soluble vitamin in the cooking water.

Vitamin C is easily absorbed both in food and in pill form, and it can enhance the absorption of iron when the two are eaten together.

Deficiency of vitamin C is relatively rare, and primarily seen in malnourished adults. In extreme cases, it can lead to scurvy -- characterized by weakness, anemia, bruising, bleeding, and loose teeth.

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