Most of us associate the need for vitamin C with cold and flu season. It pumps up the immune system, helping fight off some types of viruses. But vitamin C does so much more than prevent colds.
In honor of National Vitamin C Day on April 4, we look at the role vitamin C plays in living and aging well.
The Health Benefits of Vitamin C
Incorporating vitamin C into your daily diet can help you reap many health rewards by:
- lowering risk of cataracts
- reducing the signs of aging in the skin
- encouraging white blood cell creation, helping the body fight infections
- promoting collagen production, which helps wounds heal faster
- stabilizing blood sugar in people with diabetes
- dilating blood vessels, which promotes a healthier heart
- converting cholesterol into bile salts to eliminate it from the body
- lowering uric acid in the blood, helping prevent a painful form of arthritis known as gout.
While research is still underway, there is some evidence that vitamin C may help lower blood pressure.
By contrast, not having enough vitamin C in your diet can increase your risk for some health conditions and diseases.
Health Risks Associated with Vitamin C Deficiency
Many people have a vitamin C deficiency and don’t even realize it. A few symptoms of a deficiency are:
- frequent nosebleeds
- weight gain
- slower metabolism
- easily bruised skin
- difficulty healing wounds
- weakened immune system
It’s important to speak with your physician if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. Research has even linked vitamin C deficiency to higher rates of dementia and cancer.
While researchers aren’t sure what the connection is, they think vitamin C could help reduce inflammation, which is believed to contribute to dementia and some types of cancer.
How Much Vitamin C Is Enough?
As is true of many vitamins, there is no clear-cut amount you need to consume each day. The following recommendations from several leading authorities should be discussed with your physician:
- The U.S. Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine recommends men over the age of 18 take 90 milligrams a day and women of the same age take 75 milligrams daily.
- Researchers from Oregon State University say the daily allowance should be 200 milligrams per day for both men and women.
- Scientists from the University of Michigan suggest an even higher number. They believe consuming 500 milligrams of vitamin C each day promotes optimal health.
Foods Naturally Rich in Vitamin C
The good news is there are many fruits and vegetables that are naturally high in vitamin C. They include:
- leafy greens, such as spinach and romaine lettuce
- cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli
- strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and cranberries
- kiwi, papaya, pineapple, and mango
- green, yellow, and red peppers
- tomatoes and tomato juice.
These can easily be incorporated into the soups and smoothies you eat every day.
If you found this article helpful, we invite you to visit our page, “Elder Care Resources and Information.” You’ll find resources on topics ranging from healthy eating to hearing loss.