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Vitamin C: Heals Wounds and Bolsters Immunity, Nearly Half Get Enough

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Scurvy may seem like a historical disease, but cases still exist today. Find out what vitamin C does for your body and how to get enough of this vital vitamin.

By: Mercura Wang

A 69-year-old woman was rushed to the emergency room after experiencing a rapid weight loss of 20 pounds, widespread bruises, and muscle pain in her legs. She also suffered from weakness and small bleeding spots around hair follicles.

tbetween the 1500s and 1800s. Its cause? Severe vitamin C deficiency.

After adjusting her diet and taking vitamin C supplements, the woman soon reported less pain, better exercise tolerance, and significant improvement in her skin condition.

Before it wPas identified, this vitamin was designated “C” to signify its anti-scurvy properties. Vitamin C was later discovered in 1932 to be ascorbic acid, with ascorbic meaning “anti-scurvy.”

Our bodies require vitamin C to produce collagen, which is crucial for connective tissues, wound healing, and certain brain chemicals. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant and can regenerate other antioxidants, such as vitamin E.

This water-soluble vitamin can be found in various fresh foods, such as citrus fruits, bell peppers, and cruciferous vegetables. This article will also reveal other sources.

Inadequate levels of vitamin C have been linked to osteoporosis, diabetes, cancer, and schizophrenia. Supplementation with vitamin C can potentially reduce glucose concentrations, high blood pressure, and cholesterol. A 2017 meta-analysis found that vitamin C administration led to a significant decrease in glucose levels in patients with diabetes and older individuals. When administered intravenously, it can also be effective in treating cancer and serve as a potent adjuvant cancer treatment, enhancing the effects of various standard therapies, including chemotherapy. It can also act to reduce the toxic side effects associated with chemotherapy.

Unfortunately, vitamin C deficiency may be more prevalent than we previously thought.

What Are the Key Health Benefits of Vitamin C?

Vitamin C offers us a plethora of health benefits, the full extent of which researchers are still actively exploring. Some of the major ones include the following.

  1. Aids in Liver Detoxification

Vitamin C is essential for your liver because it helps regenerate a key detoxification tripeptide called glutathione. Glutathione plays a crucial role in reducing the toxic load in your body by improving the liver’s ability to convert and eliminate toxins, such as mercury and persistent organic pollutants.

Some toxins are fat-soluble. The liver transforms those toxins into water-soluble forms that can be excreted through urine or sweat. Glutathione is essential for this detoxification process, and vitamin C helps replenish it.

It’s worth noting that taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) can decrease glutathione levels and lead to lower vitamin C levels. Glutathione can also regenerate oxidized vitamin C.

  1. Maintains Healthy Skin, Bones, and Connective Tissue

Vitamin C helps make a crucial protein called collagen, essential for skin, bones, muscles, and even blood vessels. Without enough vitamin C, your body struggles to heal wounds, maintain strong bones and teeth, and absorb iron properly. Vitamin C is the director that tells the amino acids (building blocks for collagen) glycine, proline, and lysine how to synthesize collagen, ensuring your body can build and repair itself effectively.

  1. Regulates Immunity

Vitamin C helps the immune system by regulating its activity, which can be especially beneficial for autoimmune conditions and contributes to its immune defense. Specifically, vitamin C supports both the innate and adaptive immune systems. It also helps maintain the skin’s protective barrier by shielding it against harmful molecules called reactive oxygen species (ROS). Vitamin C also helps remove cellular debris and plays a role in the growth and function of critical immune cells, such as B- and T-lymphocytes, which produce antibodies for fighting infections.

  1. Converts Fat Into Energy

When the body uses fat for energy, it goes through a process inside tiny energy-producing units called mitochondria. Fats use a special shuttle called carnitine to enter mitochondria. Your body produces carnitine with the help of vitamin C. If you don’t have enough vitamin C, your body might struggle to break down fats for energy. If you’re following a ketogenic diet, which relies heavily on fat for fuel, your need for vitamin C may increase.

Meat contains some carnitine, and while the topic remains debated, some research suggests that a ketogenic diet may lower the body’s vitamin C requirement by enhancing mitochondrial function and boosting antioxidant levels through increased glutathione synthesis. However, if you are following a ketogenic diet and experience fatigue, it may be due to your body’s insufficient production of carnitine.

  1. Reduces Heavy Metal Accumulation

The accumulation of heavy metals such as mercury and chromium can severely damage various organs and systems, such as the respiratory, nervous, and reproductive systems. Vitamin C can reduce heavy metal accumulation, possibly by scavenging free radicals generated by heavy metals, thus inhibiting their genotoxic effects, and by reactivating repair mechanisms that heavy metals have inactivated.

  1. Regulates Cholesterol

One systematic review found that vitamin C could decrease total cholesterol in people under 52 years old, and another study showed that taking at least 500 milligrams of vitamin C daily for at least four weeks could notably reduce serum low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglyceride levels. However, while the systematic review also found vitamin C supplementation capable of significantly increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels, the second study didn’t find a significant increase in serum HDL.

  1. Fights Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is characterized by the thickening or hardening of the arteries due to plaque accumulation in their inner lining. This plaque buildup restricts blood flow and can lead to various cardiovascular problems. Vitamin C helps protect against atherosclerosis by reducing the stickiness of white blood cells to artery walls, improving blood vessel function, and preventing the death of cells in blood vessel walls. This helps keep plaques in arteries stable and reduces the risk of blockages.

  1. Improves Mental Health

In addition to affecting mood, thinking, memory, and sleep, serotonin also helps control appetite, nutrient absorption, and gut movement. It is linked to various mental disorders, including depression, anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sleep disorders, and schizophrenia. Vitamin C plays a crucial role in synthesizing serotonin. High levels of vitamin C are linked to better moods in male college students, and the vitamin can also improve the mood of hospitalized patients.

Because vitamin C supplements work quickly, have low toxicity, and are well-tolerated, they are currently considered a promising option for treating stress-related disorders such as depression and anxiety, especially when other treatments don’t work.

There is also a link between schizophrenia and low vitamin C levels. It is theorized that some individuals cannot properly metabolize adrenochrome, a byproduct of adrenaline, due to insufficient vitamin C levels. Research on glutathione S-transferase, an enzyme related to vitamin C that helps detoxify adrenochrome, supports this idea in some cases. However, not everyone with schizophrenia suffers from vitamin C deficiency.

  1. Helps Adrenal Glands Generate Essential Hormones

The adrenal glands assist in the production of adrenaline, cortisol, and progesterone. Vitamin C contributes to the formation of these hormones in the following ways:

Epinephrine (aka adrenaline) and noradrenaline: Vitamin C is crucial for producing and metabolizing adrenaline properly. Sometimes, people can produce adrenaline but cannot properly metabolize it. Without enough vitamin C, adrenaline levels can remain elevated, which can lead to increased anxiety and an exaggerated fight-or-flight response. This chronic fight-or-flight state can inhibit digestion, make it difficult to adapt to stress, impair healing, and lead to “hamster thinking,” where the mind is stuck in a loop of persistent worry.

Cortisol: As a “stress hormone,” cortisol temporarily reduces inflammation, and vitamin C can enhance cortisol production.

Progesterone: Vitamin C can help the adrenal glands produce more progesterone.


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