Vitamin C hydrates your body and increases your metabolism, leading to weight loss and healthy blood sugar levels. You need it to form bones, muscles, blood vessels and other supporting cells and tissues. In fact, vitamin C so critical that almost all animals can make it in their cells. Higher-order primates (including humans), guinea pigs, most bats, and some birds and fish are some of the few animals that cannot synthesize vitamin C and need to consume it in their daily diets.
Vitamin C can:
Support strong cells and tissues: Your body uses vitamin C to produce collagen. Without vitamin C, your bones, muscles, blood vessels, gums, mucous membranes, corneas, joints, and other supporting cells and tissues would be too unstable to perform their functions, and you would develop symptoms of scurvy. Nobel prize winners Linus Pauling and G. C. Willis have asserted that chronic, long-term, low blood levels of vitamin C (“chronic scurvy”) is a cause of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Vitamin C also helps relieve stiff joints and promotes wound healing.
Help protect cells from free radical damage: Vitamin C protects your body by functioning as an antioxidant and preventing oxygen-based damage to your cells. It acts primarily in cellular fluid, combating free-radical formation caused by pollution and cigarette smoke. It also helps return vitamin E to its active form. Structures that contain fat (like the lipoprotein molecules that carry fat around your body) are particularly dependent on vitamin C for protection. In addition, vitamin C boosts your body’s production of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant.
Lower your cancer risk: Antioxidants such as vitamin C help prevent cancer growth by neutralizing volatile oxygen free radical molecules and preventing damage to your DNA that can lead to cancer. Vitamin C also destabilizes a tumor’s ability to grow under oxygen-starved conditions. High vitamin C intakes are correlated with low rates of cancer, particularly cancers of the mouth, larynx, and esophagus.
Regenerate your vitamin E supplies: Although vitamin E is an antioxidant, it can become oxidized when it interacts with a free radical, therefore creating more oxidative damage. But vitamin C can interact with oxidized vitamin E, reducing free radicals and regenerating the benefits of vitamin E.
Improve iron and calcium absorption: Vitamin C binds with plant forms of iron, increasing its stability and solubility and helping to transport it to your intestines so it can be absorbed. Non-heme iron combined with ascorbic acid is more readily absorbed through the mucus membranes of your intestines. Calcium also needs an acidic environment for absorption, and the presence of ascorbic acid helps you absorb it.
Support your immune system: A strong immune system is vital in preventing all kinds of diseases, from the common cold to cancers and cardiovascular diseases. Your immune system relies on a wide variety of mechanisms to help protect your body from infection, including white blood cells, complement proteins, and interferons, and vitamin C is especially important in the function of these immune components. Vitamin C boosts your body’s production of gultathione, a powerful antioxidant that also helps create lymphocytes, the cells of your immune system, which keep your body’s defenses strong and produce antibodies. Vitamin C protects your phagocytes and T-lymphocytes against free radicals formed during the interaction of these immune system cells with harmful microorganisms. The T-cells and other phagocytes engulf the microorganisms and use oxygen in the form of superoxides to destroy them. These superoxides can be harmful to the phagocytes themselves. Vitamin C protects them against the free radicals and thereby maintains the integrity of these cells. A deficiency of vitamin C hampers this immune function and results in early destruction of the T-cells and phagocytes. Vitamin C decreases the duration of the common cold and helps prevent lung infections.
Eliminate toxins: Vitamin C is critical during the first phase of your body’s detoxification process, which occurs in many types of tissue, but it is especially active in your liver. When your body is exposed to toxins, vitamin C is often required for your body to begin processing the toxins for elimination. Vitamin C boosts your body’s production of gultathione, a powerful antioxidant that also helps your liver eliminate toxins.
Act as an antihistamine: Vitamin C prevents histamine release and increases the detoxification of histamine.