A love letter to vitamin C 🧡
The VITL Nutrition Team
Dear Vitamin C,
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid if we're being scientific, you don't need many introductions; you are well known to most of us for your beneficial effects on keeping our sniffles and sneezing at bay. However, it must be said that your benefits extend much further than just the management of common colds, but we rarely hear about these!
Do I really need you?
In short, yes! Millions of years ago we lost the ability to produce vitamin C in our liver as most animals do. We, along with guinea pigs, bats and apes therefore need to ensure we consume vitamin C as part of our daily diet.
A vitamin C deficiency is rare in developed countries, as it is found in most fruit, vegetables and fortified foods. But that means we do need to eat these foods! Severe vitamin C deficiency leads to scurvy, a disease known since ancient Greek and Egyptian times when long sea voyages made it hard to get a steady and sufficient supply of vitamin C. Scurvy can lead to bleeding sores, tooth loss, gum ulcers, anaemia, and a reduced rate of healing for injuries. This is partially because vitamin C is necessary for the formation of collagen, a protein crucial for normal skin and tissue function.
The nutrient reference value of vitamin C (the amount we need to prevent a deficiency disease) is 80mg per day. However, due to the nature of the vitamin, it binds with free radicals and neutralises them, so we need much higher amounts to support our antioxidant defences to the fullest. It is also important to note that approximately 70-90% of the vitamin is sufficiently absorbed. This is why supplements often come in high doses of 200, 500 or even 1000mg of vitamin C. Still, keep in mind that due to the water-soluble nature of this vitamin, there is a threshold of absorption, meaning that continuous mega-dosing of vitamin C may just leave you secreting the excess via urine. This is why in our new Vitl vitamin C, we have included 500 mg of ascorbic acid - the highly bioavailable form, found naturally in food - coupled with citrus bioflavonoids to aid its absorption.
Did you know? Eating red meat with bell peppers or squeezing a drizzle of lemon on your spinach is a match made in heaven as vitamin C (found in the peppers and lemon) helps the absorption of iron (found in red meat and cooked spinach).
What are good sources of you?
Good dietary sources of vitamin C include citrus fruit like oranges, kiwi, lemon and grapefruit, bell peppers, strawberries, tomatoes and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower.
However, one small orange has approximately 50 mg of vitamin C, meaning you would need to eat 10 oranges a day to get 500mg! Our new Vitl vitamin C can be an excellent ally in maintaining our antioxidant capacity when paired with a healthy, balanced diet. Check it out!
Did you know? 10 small oranges = 1 Vitl Vitamin C pill!
8 Surprising benefits we didn’t know about you
You help us age gracefully
Our skin cells are a ready target for free radicals to bind with and cause a chain event of damage that leads to premature ageing. The reason why skin cells are particularly vulnerable to oxidative damage is because they are directly exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays - which generates free radicals. Vitamin C, you are responsible for the synthesis of collagen and elastin in the skin, so for all the above, you are our best ally when it comes to the management of wrinkles and spots created by sun exposure.
You can help keep the blues at bay
Vitamin C levels can affect not only mood but also mental health in general, as it is essential for the activation of many important neurotransmitters, including dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine. There is further evidence suggesting that supplementation of high doses of vitamin C may have a protective effect on thinking and memory as we age.
You support our flexibility
Vitamin C is involved in normal collagen production, the main protein in bone and joint tissue. You also play a role in fighting infection and controlling inflammation, so you may be particularly beneficial for those of us suffering with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
You maximise our iron uptake
Vitamin C helps the absorption of iron, which is an essential mineral for the proper functioning of the body, as it transports oxygen to all tissues and organs. Therefore, those who have an increased need for iron, such as children, adolescents, women of childbearing age, pregnant and lactating women, and athletes, should be particularly mindful of their vitamin C and iron intake.
You protect our cells from damage
Free radicals are unpaired oxygen atoms that seek out any other atom in our body to stabilise themselves, including atoms from our cell membranes. Vitamin C scavenges those free, unbalanced radicals, protecting our cells from being damaged.
You help us out if we smoke
Smokers expose themselves to increased oxidative stress and damage to lungs and other tissues. Supplementation is highly recommended, even if you are not a heavy smoker, as the large amount of free radicals found in smoke can severely deplete your vitamin C levels.
You keep our immunity in check
Vitamin C helps our natural defences by supporting cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system. It accumulates in phagocytes - a type of cell capable of engulfing and absorbing bacteria and other small cells and particles - and supports their gem killing action. It is also involved in white blood cell production. In fact it is estimated that vitamin C in white blood cells is concentrated at values 50-100 times higher than that in blood.
You promote wound healing
Vitamin C promotes wound healing by assisting the formation of collagen. Being a powerful antioxidant, it also helps fight radical damage caused by the inflammation in the wound area. Deficiency of the vitamin -although quite rare- has been linked to impaired wound healing and scar formation.
Did you know? Stress increases our need for vitamin C. Under stress, a goat can produce up to 10,000mg/day of vitamin C!
What about skin health?
Not only is vitamin C important for supporting our immunity, it also plays an important role in skin health! It is absolutely crucial for producing collagen which is an abundant protein in the body, found in connective tissue, bones, skin and nails. It keeps our bodies firm, flexible and springy. Often referred to as the ‘glue’ that holds everything together, collagen is an essential substance in our bodies, but to be able to produce it we need vitamin C. We can think of it as a building block for collagen.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant which essentially means it’s a substance that helps neutralise free radicals (highly reactive molecules that can cause damage) which are naturally produced by the body. Signs of ageing, such as photodamage and wrinkles, can be caused by damage from these free radicals. Studies have shown that vitamin C also reduces the damage caused by sun (ultraviolet light) exposure especially in combination with vitamin E. This is why you will see lots of cosmetic creams having as a ‘star’ ingredient vitamin C. Topical application of vitamin C, as well as SPF protection, are our best allies when it comes to photoprotection.
Vitamin C is also crucial for the management of dry skin and supports the speedy recovery of wound healing. It does this by supporting collagen formation and fighting free radical damage caused by the inflammation in the wound area. Deficiency of the vitamin has been linked to impaired wound healing and scar formation.
If you are a smoker, you are exposing your skin to even greater free radical damage. In fact, even if you only smoke socially, the large amount of free radicals found in smoke can deplete your vitamin C levels. Vitamin C fights those smoke free radicals, so supplementation is highly recommended.
We can’t make it and our bodies can’t store vitamin C, so it needs to be consumed daily. Hence our latest product launch…. Vitl Vitamin C, with 500mg of vitamin C and 50mg of citrus bioflavonoids. Check it out here!
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