Vitamin C is an essential nutrient, meaning our bodies are unable to produce it. Yet, vitamin C has many roles and has been linked to some impressive health benefits. It’s water-soluble and found in many fruits and vegetables, including oranges, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, kale, and spinach. Here are the health benefits of adding more vitamin C to your diet.
- Helps Improve Immune Response – One of the main reasons people take vitamin C supplements is toimprove their body’s immune response. Vitamin C helps encourage the production of white blood cells known as lymphocytes and phagocytes, which help protect the body against infection. Vitamin C also helps white blood cells function more effectively while protecting them from damage by potentially harmful molecules, such as free radicals. Vitamin C is an essential part of the skin’s defense system. It’s actively transported to the skin, where it can act as an antioxidant and help strengthen the skin’s barriers.
- May Reduce Risk of Chronic Disease – Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can strengthen your body’s natural defenses. Antioxidants are molecules that boost the immune system by protecting cells from harmful molecules called free radicals. When free radicals build up, they can promote a state known as oxidative stress, which has been linked to many chronic diseases. Studies have shown that consuming more vitamin C can increase your blood antioxidant levels by up to 30%. This helps the body’s natural defenses fight inflammation.
- May Help Manage High Blood Pressure – Approximately one-third of American adults have high blood pressure. High blood pressureputs you at risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death. Studies have shown that vitamin C may help lower blood pressure in both those with and without high blood pressure.
- May Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease – Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Many factors can increase your risk of heart disease, including high blood pressure, hightriglyceride or LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, and low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. Vitamin C may help reduce these risk factors, which may reduce heart disease risk. An analysis of 9 studies with a combined 293,172 participants found that after 10 years, people who took at least 700 mg of vitamin C daily had a 25% lower risk of heart disease than those who did not take a vitamin C supplement.