Articles by Natural Health Author Barbara Minton
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Seven Big Reasons to Pay Attention to Your Vitamin C Levels
by Barbara Minton
(The Best Years in Life) Sometimes it’s good to get back to basics and remember that vibrant health begins at the grocery store. That’s where you find Vitamin C, the vitamin packing a punch against almost everything from wrinkles to cancer. To get that punch requires eating foods high in Vitamin C two or three times each day because, unlike all the other vitamins, Vitamin C has a very short life in the body. This shouldn’t be a problem since foods naturally high in Vitamin C usually come ready to eat, taste great, and are relatively low in cost. It’s too bad so many people don’t get enough of this vitamin to maintain good health!
Also known as ascorbate or ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for humans, meaning we are unable to make it in our bodies like most animals and plants do. The only way to get this marvelous nutrient is by consuming it. If you do, here are the benefits you may expect.
Cardiovascular - In the last several years, researchers have found that Vitamin C positively impacts many aspects of cardiovascular health, including blood pressure, blood and lymphatic vessels, vessel walls, and buildup of plaque. As the relationship between oxidative damage, inflammation, and atherosclerosis has become clear, Vitamin C is being viewed as providing key cardiovascular protection.
Data from the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed the risk of death from a variety of cardiovascular diseases was 42% less in men and 25% less in women who consumed about 300 mg/day of Vitamin C.
The famous Nurses’ Health Study followed 85,000 women and concluded that higher intake of Vitamin C from food and supplements was linked to a 28% decrease in coronary heart disease.
Oregon State University was the home for years of Linus Pauling, the man who raised awareness of the importance of optimal Vitamin C. After compiling data from other investigations, researchers there determined that to reduce coronary heart disease risk requires a minimum of 400 mg/day of Vitamin C.
Brain Health – Vitamin C is imperative for the making of certain neurotransmitters that carry thoughts, feelings, memories, and commands throughout the brain and nervous system. In particular, we need Vitamin C to produce serotonin, a hormone playing a critical role in many body systems, such as the endocrine, immune, digestive, and nervous systems. Moods, bodily rhythms including sleeping and waking, perception of pain, and stress are all strongly influenced by Vitamin C.
Stroke – A prospective study that followed more than 2,000 Japanese people for 20 years found that the risk of stoke in those with the highest serum levels of Vitamin C was 29% lower than in those with the lowest serum levels of the vitamin. The risk of stoke in people who consume Vitamin C daily in the form of vegetables was 54% lower compared to those consuming vegetables 2 days of the week or less.
In a ten year prospective study of 21,000 adults, those consuming the most Vitamin C displayed a 42% lower risk of stoke compared to those who consumed the least.
Exciting research is showing that another form of Vitamin C, known as dehyroascorbate, may modulate most or all of the damage from a stroke. Unlike regular ascorbate, this form quickly enters the brain, and once there it is converted to ascorbate.
Antioxidant – Free radicals are forms of highly reactive molecules that can cause havoc in the body, damage cells and tissues, and may cause DNA strand breaks. Vitamin C scavenges free radicals to provide protection. This antioxidant action is what makes Vitamin C so important for eye health as well as for other systems.
Another application of Vitamin C as an antioxidant is its ability to transform iron into a state that is better absorbed in the intestinal tract. Be sure to include foods rich in the vitamin when eating foods containing iron to gets its benefits.
Collagen – Collagen is the protein that plays a critical role in body structures. It is the framework for skin and bones, and without it people would literally disintegrate. The body cannot produce collagen without Vitamin C.
Cataracts – The development of cataracts in the lenses of the eyes in many people as they age results in declining vision and the need to have the natural lenses replaced by intraocular lenses. Low levels of Vitamin C have been correlated with increased severity of cataracts. Studies have linked both dietary Vitamin C intake and increased blood levels of the vitamin with lowered risk of cataracts.
Cancer – Hundreds of research studies on cancer have demonstrated the need for consumption of fruits and vegetables containing Vitamin C. If your goal is better health, you simply must have optimal levels of this vitamin – there is just no way around it. Many of these studies have shown that higher intakes of Vitamin C are associated with decreased risk of many cancers, particularly those of the colon and lung. Researchers have found that for significant cancer risk reduction, a person must consume a bare minimum of 110 mg of Vitamin C daily.
The Nurses’ Health Study has determined that dietary Vitamin C consumption is inversely associated with breast cancer in premenopausal women with a family history of breast cancer. Women who consumed an average of 205 mg/day of Vitamin C from foods showed a whopping 63% lowered risk of breast cancer compared to those consuming just 70 mg-day.
A study just published has added to this finding, with the conclusion that potassium increases the anti-tumor effects of Vitamin C in breast cancer cell lines.
Symptoms of Vitamin C deficiency
This list reveals some of the most common symptoms. It is not a complete list:
Getting the best from Vitamin C
Vitamin C is the most fragile nutrient and the most easily destroyed. Oxygen and heat are its enemies. This means foods eaten for their Vitamin C should never be cooked, and they should not be cut open until right before eating. This makes the precut fruits and vegetables at the store a very poor choice. By the time you get around to eating them, their Vitamin C may be completely gone. This applies to canned produce as well. However fruits and vegetables having been quick frozen after picking will almost always retain a good amount of the vitamin.
The same is true for buying juices. If you want to drink juice, buy a juicer and make it at home to get high levels of Vitamin C. The next best thing is frozen concentrate. Bottled juice is pasteurized, a process that destroys Vitamin C.
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