Vitamin C is a vitamin water-soluble, which means that it is soluble in water and does not store in the body. Essential to many functions, its daily contribution is indispensable. Indeed, vitamin C can be considered the Queen of vitamins because countless body’s physiological processes depend on it, and its assets for health are indisputable.
Vitamin C is found naturally in oranges, strawberries, kiwis, peppers, broccoli, kale or spinach. Although daily consumption of these foods is recommended to not suffer from any deficiency, supplementation is indeed the most reliable method to obtain enough vitamin C each day.
It is helpful to know that the food we consume today is impoverished by cultivation, transport, and preservation methods.
Welcome to this article entirely dedicated to the vitamin of all vitamins!
The roles of vitamin C
Vitamin C is essential for synthesizing and maintaining collagen, the most abundant protein in the human body. Collagen accounts for about 25 to 35% of the body’s total protein content.
The synthesis of the basement membrane
The basement membrane is a thin, sticky layer that supports the layers of epithelial cells, tissues that line surfaces and cavities throughout the body, such as the stomach lining and the mucosa of blood vessels.
Vitamin C is an essential cofactor for synthesizing l-carnitine, an amino acid necessary for the transport of fatty acids in the mitochondria. This transfer of fatty acids is a critical factor for the production of ATP, which is indispensable for cellular energy.
The synthesis of neurotransmitters
Vitamin C is directly involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are biological molecules that facilitate the electrical flow between neurons and nerve cells in the body and brain.
The body’s ability to react to the environment and the brain’s ability to think and remember depend on these essential substances.
Calcium absorption in the bones
The formation and maintenance of high-density bone material require vitamin C. It promotes the assimilation of calcium in the bones, protects against the loss of calcium out of the bones, and fights oxidative stress that acts against assimilation.
The functioning and maintenance of the immune system
One of the most important functions of vitamin C is to support and energize the cells of the immune system. The latter have active vitamin C transport molecules embedded in their membranes, which actively pump the vitamin into the cells when more vitamin C is needed.
The health benefits of vitamin C
A powerful antioxidant that can reduce the risk of chronic diseases
Vitamin C is an antioxidant power that strengthens the natural defenses of our body. Studies show that consuming more vitamin C can increase our blood antioxidant levels by more than 30%, which helps the body’s natural defenses fight inflammation.
Control of risk factors for heart disease
Studies have shown that vitamin C can lower blood pressure in people with and without hypertension and reduce risk factors for heart disease. An analysis of nine studies of 293,172 participants found that after ten years, people who had taken at least 700 mg of vitamin C per day had a 25% lower risk of heart disease compared to the sample who had not taken vitamin C.
Improves iron absorption
Iron is an essential nutrient on which many functions in the body depend. It is necessary for making red blood cells and transporting oxygen throughout the body. Interestingly, vitamin C supplements can help improve the absorption of iron from the diet. Vitamin C helps convert poorly absorbed iron, for example, from plant sources, into a more assimilable form.
Vitamin C strengthens immunity.
The majority of people who decide to take vitamin C do so when they suffer from a cold, to heal faster (by stimulating their immune system). And indeed, vitamin C is present in many cells of the immune system.
- It encourages white blood cells (lymphocytes and phagocytes), which help protect the body from infections.
- It allows these white blood cells to function more efficiently while protecting them from damage caused by potentially harmful molecules, such as free radicals.
- It is an essential part of the skin defence system. It is actively transported there, where it can act as an antioxidant and help strengthen skin barriers.
Vitamin C protects our memory.
Studies suggest that oxidative stress and inflammation near the brain, spine and nerves (the central nervous system) may increase the risk of dementia. Studies show that too low levels of vitamin C have been linked to the inability to think and remember.
In addition, several studies have shown that people with dementia often have lower than normal levels of vitamin C.
- Vitamin C stimulates the immune system
- It is a water-soluble vitamin that does not store in the body
- Daily intakes are recommended
- It must be obtained from food and food supplements
- It is antioxidant
- It reduces inflammation
- It reduces blood pressure
- It reduces the risk of heart disease
- It reduces intensity and space gout attacks
- It improves iron absorption
- It reduces the risk of dementia
The interest in vitamin C for athletes
Contrary to popular belief, vitamin C has no exciting power. However, this vitamin reduces oxidative stress, improving nitric oxide production and improving carnitine synthesis. Also, vitamin C cannot be produced in the body, and it is not stored there. It is therefore essential to supplement daily.
The needs of athletes are higher.
Regular and intensive sport increases the body’s need for vitamin C. Any serious sportsman should ensure that they absorb enough vitamin C every day through a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and food supplements. According to the latest research on vitamin C, the needs of athletes are underestimated, and intakes between 500mg and 3g per day are recommended: to reduce oxidative stress and improve recovery. Also, low-carbohydrate diets require an increase in vitamin C intake.
An improvement in muscle recovery
Oxidative stress generates muscle damage and pain that hurts performance. Since vitamin C has antioxidant properties, supplementation is attractive to optimize recovery.
Vitamin C promotes fat burning.
Fats are a source of energy that the body can rely on when needed, thanks in part to l-carnitine. Vitamin C optimizes the effectiveness of carnitine, improving its synthesis.
Vitamin C and nitric oxide
Nitric oxide, or NO, is a gas produced in our blood vessels. It is used in particular to regulate blood pressure.
In the sports field, NO is interesting because it improves muscle oxygenation, the distribution of nutrients while reducing the accumulation of lactic acid, thereby improving muscle recovery.
Vitamin C improves the bioavailability of nitric oxide, which is why it is often found in pre-workout and workout boosters.
Vitamin C reduces cortisol.
Take vitamin C to protect your muscle mass! High levels of vitamin C reduce cortisol secretion, a hormone released into the body during stress phases. Cortisol proportionally reduces testosterone and thus plunges the body into a state of catabolism. The muscles are then used as a source of energy.
Recommended daily allowances and actual needs
In 2013, efsa (European Food Safety Authority) stated that the average requirement (RDA) to maintain body vitamin C at healthy levels is 90 mg/day for men and 80 mg/day.
The reference intake of the population was set at 110 mg/day for men and 95 mg/day for women.
According to the expert group, these levels were sufficient to balance metabolic losses of vitamin C and maintain fasting plasma ascorbate concentrations at about 50 micromoles/L.
Each person has very different needs for vitamin C: depending on their lifestyle, age, gender and state of health. For example, the recommended intake for smokers is 35 mg/day higher than for non-smokers, as smokers experience increased oxidative stress caused by toxins in cigarette smoke and generally have lower than average blood levels of vitamin C.
Also, a high-level athlete or a seasoned amateur athlete who trains several times a week will also have vitamin C needs significantly higher than the RDA recommended by EFSA.
To date, no functional biomarkers have been identified as the basis for the formulation of dietary vitamin C intake recommendations. Combined with established knowledge from pharmacokinetic studies and studies on cardiovascular disease and colds, the recommended dose should be directly proportional to activity level and age. No toxicity of vitamin C has ever been noted for information, even at doses greater than 30g per day.