Like guinea pigs and chimpanzees, we humans are some of the few animals in the world that can’t make our own vitamin C. And, because this delicate vitamin is water-soluble and can’t be stored in large amounts by your body, it’s important to get some vitamin C every day.
Seven reasons why your body needs vitamin C
Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C has many roles and is essential for a healthy body. It has:
1. Immune system boosting benefits
Vitamin C is best known for its immune system boosting effects, specifically fighting infections like colds. And, although enjoying a diet that’s rich in vitamin C can’t stop you from catching a cold, taking a vitamin C supplement may help to reduce the severity and duration of a cold. A large study showed that although taking a vitamin C supplement doesn’t seem to make much difference to couch potatoes, if you do exercise – even if you exercise briefly – taking C in supplement form could actually halve your risk of catching a cold and speed up recovery, too.
Part of the way that vitamin C does this is by encouraging white blood cells (which protect the body from infection) to increase in number. Vitamin C is concentrated in white blood cells. Plus it boosts the production of antibodies.
According to animal studies, it also raises the level of interferon. When the viruses that cause colds and flu enter the cells, they take them over, turning cells into tiny flu-producing factories. Interferon is one of your body’s anti-viral defence mechanisms. It surrounds cell surfaces helping to prevent pathogenic (harmful) viruses from entering them. Vitamin C can repair and protect cells, too, so it’s important for wound healing. And because it has an antihistamine action, vitamin C may be able to lessen the unpleasant effects of colds such as congestion inflammation, stuffy nose and aches.
2. Antioxidant action
With its powerful antioxidant action, vitamin C protects the body from free radicals that can cause oxidative stress. Sometimes called cellular rust, oxidative stress involves build-up of harmful free radicals and this has been linked with a range of chronic conditions from heart disease and stroke to some cancers. Aim for around five to six servings of fruit and vegetables daily. This provides vitamin C plus a wide range of healthful plant pigments, vitamins and minerals.
3. Skin paybacks
Vitamin C is essential for building and maintaining collagen and connective tissue. Collagen is the main structural protein in connective tissue. Connective tissue structurally supports and strengthens muscles, teeth, bones, skin and blood vessels. Collagen supports tissues and organs including the skin. Your body needs vitamin C to make collagen. So, getting enough helps to ensure that your skin is elastic. Stress can take its toll on your whole body including your skin. When you feel stressed, the stress hormone cortisol triggers inflammation and this breaks down collagen. And since collagen helps to keep your skin plump and firm, signs of stress may be visible in your complexion.
4. Benefit for smokers
Inhaling just one puff of cigarette smoke introduces three trillion free radicals directly into the lungs. You can’t feel the damage this is doing because the lungs don’t have nerve cells. But, when free radicals come into contact with lung tissue, it triggers damage including inflammation. Smoking uses up your body’s very tiny stores of vitamin C as well as other nutrients. It also causes the skin to constrict so that less oxygen and nutrients are able to feed and protect your skin. This is one reason that skin looks older, faster if you smoke. Getting enough vitamin C helps to support skin suppleness and elasticity because it helps to boost collagen production. It also maintains the health of your capillaries, so that oxygen and nutrients can reach the cells of the body including skin cells. If you smoke, though, the best thing you can do for your health is to stub out the habit.
5. Iron absorbing features
The mineral iron is a major component of the oxygen-carrying protein in the blood called haemoglobin. When taken with a meal, vitamin C helps your body to naturally absorb iron. This is whether the iron comes from animal sources (meat and fish) or from vegetarian sources (like peas, beans and legumes and wholegrains).
6. Stress attacking functions
Fast-paced 21st century living takes its toll on your stress levels and raised stress hormones deplete vitamin C in your body. In fact vitamin C is the first nutrient to be depleted in alcoholics, smokers and people who are obese. Vitamin C is a potent free radical scavenger and these reactive compounds are produced as a by-product of metabolism. High levels of free radicals can be triggered by pollution, poor diet (too many fast, fatty, sugary foods and drinks), alcohol and cigarette smoke.
7. Vitamin E preserving effects
Vitamin C can also regenerate other disease-fighting antioxidants in the body, including alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E). So, this water-soluble free radical fighter helps to preserve the fat soluble vitamin, (free radical) fighter boosting your body’s self defence systems.
21st century scurvy?
Not getting enough vitamin C (less than 10mg or so per day) for around three months or so can trigger the vitamin C deficiency disease, scurvy. Signs and symptoms include fatigue and gum inflammation, joint pain, and poor wound healing, anaemia and tooth loss.
Before the eighteenth century, scurvy was common in sailors when fresh fruits and vegetables weren’t available on long sea voyages. Once it became known that limes and other citrus fruits could be stored for long periods and would prevent the condition, British sailors regularly used limes to prevent scurvy. Hence the term ‘limeys.’
Once consigned to the history books, scurvy made a comeback during and after World War II because of severe food rationing. Surprisingly, though, cases of scurvy are being reported today in the present day UK.
Dietitians in South Wales, UK, blame the resurgence of scurvy to eating too many takeaway and microwave meals and not eating nearly enough fresh fruit and vegetables. Dietitian Sioned Quirke who works in the Rhondda Valley in South Wales said: ‘The difference between now and then is that this is out of choice. People say that fruit and vegetables are not affordable when in fact they are.’ Sioned blames fast food for the rise of scurvy.
In adults, the symptoms of scurvy include:
- Tiredness (your body does not have enough oxygen triggering fatigue)
- Pain in the limbs, mainly the legs
- Small red-blue spots on the skin
If untreated, scurvy can cause jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes), oedema (swelling caused by a build-up of fluid) and potentially fatal heart problems. Recently, parents of an eight-year-old boy who died allegedly died of scurvy fronted court charged with neglect and suspicion of death due to scurvy.
Could you do with a little more vitamin C?
Spacing is essential
With regular vitamin C supplements, its best to space them throughout the day. Because it is water-soluble, excess vitamin C is excreted from the body via urine. Poly CTM is different because it contains a range of forms of vitamin C. This means that the blood levels of vitamin C remain raised for longer if you take vitamin C as Poly C compared with regular products. It also contains citrus bioflavonoids which help your body cells absorb and use vitamin C.
Everyone has different biochemistry and unique lifestyles. The amount of vitamin C needed daily for optimal performance is directly related to individual diet, absorption, utilisation, metabolism, excretion, work environment, and physical, mental, and environmental stress.
You many need a supplement if:
You smoke or you are around second-hand cigarette smoke. Smoking depletes the body of the tiny stores of vitamin C it contains and increases the need for antioxidants because it introduces free radicals to the body. The more you smoke, the more vitamin C you lose from your cells and blood, so a supplement is needed.
If you have a very limited diet. Today’s high-speed lifestyles mean that many of us rely on grabbing ready-made meals, fast foods and takeaways – high on convenience and low in nutrition.
If you have certain medical conditions such as difficulty in absorbing nutrients.
So how do I know if my vitamins are broken down and being absorbed?
A brand that follows pharmaceutical-grade GMP is a good way to ensure high quality
Get to know USANA Poly C™
- A unique blend of mineral ascorbates
- Provides 600mg of vitamin C per tablet for enhanced antioxidant protection
- Strengthens the immune system, supports the synthesis of collagen.
Why USANA Poly C™?
USANA Poly C is a balanced formulation of mineral ascorbates with vitamin C activity. By using a variety of ascorbates, USANA’s Poly C is able to affect vitamin C levels in the body. An in-house clinical trials showed that when equal amounts of vitamin C were provided as either Poly C or ascorbate acid, the Poly C gave higher levels of vitamin C in blood serum and maintained those higher levels for a longer time. Poly C is laboratory tested, potency guaranteed. Meets British Pharmacopoeia specifications for uniformity and disintegration where applicable.
Using USANA Poly C: take two (2) to four (4) Poly C tablets daily, or as your personal needs require. Do not exceed four (4) tablets per day.
Purchase USANA Poly C from USANA Australia approved website: www.buyvitaminsonline.com.au