Benefits of Vitamin C: Separating Fact from Myth
By Benita Lee
When the average person thinks of vitamin C, thoughts of oranges, the common cold or immune function might arise—but scientific research has done a lot to expand our knowledge of this vitamin beyond all that. An understanding of what vitamin C is, why we need it and how it works can help you maximize all of its potential benefits.
What is Vitamin C?
Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is part of the water-soluble group of vitamins, of which the eight B-complex vitamins are also members. Vitamin C is dissolved in the watery portions of our foods and is transported into our bloodstream after digestion. Our body then takes the circulating vitamin and concentrates it, mainly in our white blood cells, eyes, specific hormone-producing glands and brain. Because our kidneys filter the contents of our bloodstream, vitamin C ends up being filtered, too, and any excess is eliminated in the urine, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
How Does the Body Use It?
Although conclusive research on vitamin C is elusive, certain functions of vitamin C at the molecular level are unquestionable.
First, vitamin C is necessary for a host of biosynthetic processes. It’s essential for making collagen, a key component of the connective tissue that forms cartilage, bones, teeth and blood vessels; helping heal wounds; and making L-carnitine, a molecule involved in fat metabolism, noted an NIH fact sheet on vitamin C.
Certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, rely on vitamin C for their synthesis as well, according to articles in Pakistan Journal of Nutrition and Brain Research Bulletin. Serotonin is famous for improving mood stability and helps regulate sleep and appetite; norepinephrine plays a role in metabolism and stress.
Outside of its biosynthetic roles, vitamin C is known to support our immune defenses and protect against oxidative damage, functions supported by the results of research published in 2010 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vitamin C, along with zinc, plays a vital role in optimizing the function of our white blood cells, which respond to and control infections. Like vitamin E, vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant that can combat the oxidative damage of harmful free radicals, even helping renew vitamin E pools. Additionally, vitamin C aids in the absorption of non-heme iron, the only form of the trace mineral present in plant-based foods……….
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Source: Massage Magazine