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Do you always turn to vitamin C or a glass of orange juice when you have a cold?

Linus Pauling, a double Nobel laureate, spurred the practice of loading up on this vitamin in 1970 as a way to prevent colds and boost the immune system.

How important is vitamin C in our daily diet?

An Introduction to Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbate or ascorbic acid, can be found in various fruit and vegetables. The body doesn’t store this vitamin. People need to consume food or supplements that contain it to maintain sufficient vitamin C levels in their bodies.

Various body functions require vitamin C. Vitamin C enhances wound healing, boosts the immune system and helps remove unwanted substances from the body.

The body also needs vitamin C to produce collagen. Collagen is an essential component in fibrous tissues like the gut, bones, blood vessels, cartilage, cornea, skin, ligaments, and tendons.

An image of fruits and vegetable including apple, banana, fig, kiwi, tomato and pepper.

Good sources of Vitamin C include:

  • Potatoes
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Blackcurrants
  • Strawberries
  • Red and green peppers
  • Citrus fruits like oranges
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach and other leafy, green vegetables
  • Kiwifruit
  • Cabbage
  • Strawberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Grapefruit
  • Green Peas

These fruits and vegetables are most powerful in raw form. Of course, some of the fruits and vegetables, like squash and potatoes, can’t be eaten unless they are cooked. Steaming and microwaving these foods won’t reduce the amount of vitamin C they contain.

Keep in mind that the potency of vitamin C is reduced when it’s exposed to light. So, when you purchase juice, instead of buying it in a glass container, buy a carton.

There are also supplements with vitamin C that are available. With vitamin C or any other supplement, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor to make sure you’re taking the proper dosage.

Vitamin C Deficiency

An image of an orange on a yellow backgound, there are Vitamin C pills on one half of the orange.

The recommended daily amount of vitamin C for adults is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women.

Getting your recommended daily dose of vitamin C is easy. Have a cup of strawberries for dessert, some sliced green peppers for an afternoon snack, or a glass of orange juice to start your day.

Since your body doesn’t produce vitamin C, not having enough of this vitamin as a part of your daily diet may cause a vitamin C deficiency.

People who are at risk of vitamin C deficiency are older people who may eat a less varied diet, people who go on very restrictive diets, people who are dependent on alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes and don’t have a healthy diet, and pregnant and breastfeeding women since they need higher amounts of this vitamin.

Vitamin C deficiency may cause the development of the following symptoms: irritability, weakness, and lassitude. Because vitamin C has several functions related to your immune system, it shouldn’t be a surprise that you’ll have a weaker immunity if you lack this vitamin in your body.

Since vitamin C helps your blood clot and keeps your blood vessels healthy, wounds might tear easily and heal poorly if you have a vitamin C deficiency.

Vitamin C deficiency might also cause your gums to start bleeding easily, and they also might become purple, swollen, and spongy. This is a condition known as gingivitis.

Vitamin C deficiency might also cause scaly, dry skin and brittle, dry hair and nails, as well as weak tooth enamel and anemia.

Vitamin C is safe when taking at recommended doses. However, keep in mind that taking a large amount of vitamin C per day over an extended period of time can cause:

  • Flatulence
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach Pain

The Benefits of Vitamin C

Vitamin C has many impressive health benefits. Following are several ways that Vitamin C benefits your body.

An image of different pills, in a different color on a plastic plate.

1. Helps Guard Against Chronic Diseases

Vitamin C can strengthen the boy’s natural defenses since it’s a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants protect cells from free radicals, which are harmful molecules, and this way, Vitamin C boosts the immune system. Vitamin C helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease by increasing your blood antioxidant levels.

2. Might Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease

Many factors increase the risk of heart disease, including low levels of HDL cholesterol, high levels of LDL cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Vitamin C can help reduce the risk of heart disease by helping reduce these risk factors. Several studies have shown that people who took vitamin C daily had a lower risk of heart disease than those who didn’t take vitamin C.

3. Helps in Treating the Common Cold

Vitamin C is not a cure for the common cold, but it does help relieve its symptoms and prevent more severe complications.

4. May Support Cancer Treatment

As noted by the Mayo Clinic, eating a diet filled with vegetables and fruits that contain vitamin C can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. However, it is not yet clear if the reduced risk of cancer is related to the consumption of vitamin C or following a well-balanced diet. Mayo Clinic also notes that vitamin C (when taken in extra-high doses) might make chemotherapy and radiation more effective

5. Helps Iron Absorption

For oxygen to make its way through our body, we need red blood cells, which are made with iron. Low iron results in anemia, and it’s an issue for people who have a condition that makes them disposed to iron deficiency, as well as those who don’t eat a lot of people high in iron. Vitamin C increases iron absorption, and it helps it travel through the body by creating a film around the nonheme iron.

Final Thoughts

Vitamin C has many functions, and it is an essential nutrient in your diet.

Good sources of vitamin C are fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as vitamin C supplements. The deficiency of this vitamin can harm your body in different ways.


If you want to learn more facts, stats, and tips about proper diet, make sure to check our Food and Nutrition blog category.

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Author:

Tose Zafirov

Bodybuilding and Fitness Expert

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