Vitamin C is a powerful water-soluble antioxidant and has long been touted for its health benefits. Vitamin C improves tissue and wound healing and has many other health benefits.
One of the major theories of aging is the Free Radical Theory. Free radicals are molecules with an extra electron that make the molecule unstable. To become stable a free radical “steals” an electron from another molecule, which “steals” an electron from another molecule, and so on, setting off a chain of events damaging the molecules and tissues in the process.
Antioxidants, like vitamin C “neutralize” free radicals limiting tissue damage, and thereby slowing down the aging process. Free radicals are produced from eating an unhealthy diet, smoking, pollution, radiation (including solar), infections, exercise, and from the body’s own metabolic processes. Therefore, the body needs an optimal level of vitamin C and other antioxidants to combat free radical generation.
Living It Up with Vitamin C
Optimal vitamin C levels are associated with an increased life span. One study showed that adults with low vitamin C levels were twice as likely to die within four years as those with the highest levels of the vitamin.
Another study showed that men who took 800 mg of vitamin C a day lived nearly six years longer than men who took 60 mg a day.
The vitamin C in one piece of fruit or vegetable is associated with a nearly 20% reduction in all-cause mortality.
Vitamin C has many beneficial effects on the heart. Heart attacks occur when a plaque ruptures in the artery wall. Vitamin C seems to stabilize plaque at least in animals. Heart and vascular disease is the result of endothelial dysfunction. The endothelium is the lining of the walls of the arteries and must be kept healthy to prevent cardiovascular disease. It also reduces the harmful effects of elevated homocysteine (risk factor for heart disease) levels on the endothelium.
Oxidation of LDL, or the bad cholesterol increases one’s risk of heart disease. Vitamin C reduces this oxidation significantly. Vitamin C has been shown to increase HDL, or the good cholesterol. One study showed that 500 mg of vitamin C daily led to a 5% reduction in LDL cholesterol. And, it may reduce blood pressure.
Vitamin C and Musculoskeletal Health
Some studies suggest that vitamin C improves bone density and others showing that vitamin C and E intake is related to muscle strength. Vitamin C is necessary for optimal tissue healing.
On the Horizon
More and more research is being conducted on stem cells. Vitamin C facilitates the reprogramming of adults cells into stem cells that someday may provide a treatment for many diseases.