Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for many reasons. Also known as ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is water-soluble, so it can’t be stored in large amounts by the body. You’ve got to ingest it daily. Vitamin C is crucial for skin, bones, ligaments, tendons, teeth, eyes, and blood vessels.
You may have heard of vitamin C as a cold remedy or as something to take to “boost your immune system,” but it actually has benefits far beyond just immune system support.
Did you know vitamin C plays a key role in supporting hormone function and thyroid health? It’s also great for your cardiovascular system and can even help keep your skin looking youthful.
1. Vitamin C For The Immune System
As you’re likely aware, vitamin C is a critical component in keeping your immune system in tip-top shape. Many studies have shown its efficacy in cases of bacteria and viral infection, including lung inflammation caused by the flu and pneumonia.
It’s thought that vitamin C’s immune supporting benefits come from its ability to help produce white blood cells — the body’s defenders against infection.
And levels of the vitamin are low in patients who have severe infections like tuberculosis, further indicating a relationship between vitamin C levels and the immune system.
2. Vitamin C For Better Progesterone Levels
Progesterone is a hormone made following ovulation. It’s benefits range from supporting a healthy mood, better sleep, keeping anxiety in check, making periods easier, and improved brain function. In one randomized control trial it was found that women who supplemented with vitamin C had increased progesterone levels compared to the placebo group.
3. Vitamin C For Fertility and Pregnancy
Vitamin C has long been touted for its ability to increase fertility. Researchers believe that ascorbic acid is important in many parts of the reproductive process. This is likely because it plays a vital role in hormone production, helps make collagen, and protects cells from free radicals.
4. Vitamin C for Stress and Anxiety
Vitamin C is required for making catecholamines, otherwise known as stress hormones. In fact, your adrenal glands are one of the organs with the highest concentrations of vitamin C and leverage this vitamin to do their job.
In times of stress, your adrenal glands increase production of catecholamines. Because of this, they are using more vitamin C, which is why some people benefit from increased intake during times of chronic stress.
5. Vitamin C For Endometriosis
Endometriosis occurs when endometrial-like implants grow outside of the uterus. This tissue isn’t exactly the same as the normal lining of the uterus, but can still respond to hormone changes that accompany a normal menstrual cycle. This can be an extremely painful condition for women who suffer from it.
In one study, chronic pain from endometriosis was reduced in 43% of study participants after treatment with vitamin C and E, suggesting that these antioxidants may reduce pain and inflammation.
6. Vitamin C For Heavy Periods
Vitamin C supports the integrity of blood vessels. Fragile capillaries are believed to be involved in some cases of heavy periods or menorrhagia. Capillaries are small blood vessels found throughout the body. Vitamin C and bioflavonoids (a group of antioxidants) also have an anti-inflammatory effect, which may also reduce heavy bleeding.
7. Vitamin C and Birth Control
If you're currently on the oral contraceptive pill, then you should know that these can deplete your body of vitamins and nutrients. In addition to vitamin C, the pill has been shown to deplete B vitamins, vitamin E, and zinc, magnesium, and selenium.
8. Vitamin C As A Natural Antihistamine
In addition to supporting the immune system, vitamin C also acts as a natural antihistamine, which is great news for anyone who suffers from allergies.
Histamines are inflammatory compounds that are a normal part of immune response but when they overreact in certain instances, they can cause an allergic reaction. Vitamin C can help temper that allergic response of seasonal allergies, but understand it is not a treatment for severe allergic reactions, so call your doctor or seek immediate medical care if this is what you’re experiencing.
Histamines can also play a role in PMS. Histamine in your body, while part of the normal female cycle, can create issues, causing anxiety, migraines, and period pain. Taking vitamin C regularly might help with PMS symptoms that are a result of inflammation caused by histamines.
9. Vitamin C And Iron
Vitamin C and iron are quite the dynamic duo. Vitamin C has been shown to help with the absorption of non-heme iron quite nicely. This is great news for anyone suffering from anemia. It’s also something to keep in mind if you’re experiencing heavy period blood flow. The amount of vitamin C ingested corresponds directly with the absorption levels of soluble iron.
10. Vitamin C And Thyroid Health
Possibly because of its role in increasing iron absorption and it’s strength as an antioxidant, it appears that supplementation with vitamin C can help regulate T3, T4, and TSH levels in thyroid patients.
In one study, thyroid patients who were given vitamin C saw improved symptoms and lowered oxidative stress. And it seems this holds true for both hypothyroid and hyperthyroid conditions.
11. Vitamin C As A Powerful Antioxidant
Antioxidants protect you from free radicals, which are unstable molecules that are linked to disease and aging. Vitamin C is one of the most potent antioxidants, and can help increase the levels of antioxidants in your blood.
This in turn, helps prevent many chronic diseases. Antioxidants have been shown to fight heart disease, cancer, Alzheimers, and help delay the physical effects of aging. In short, they’re super important for your health, and getting as many of them in your diet is a really good idea.
12. Vitamin C For Heart Health
While we can’t completely attribute vitamin C intake to a healthier heart, it seems like increased intake of this vitamin may indicate better heart health.
In one study, participants took 700 mg of vitamin C in supplement form for 10 years. And the results indicated that they had a 25% lower chance of getting heart disease. In another review, it appeared that vitamin C supplementation reduced bad cholesterol and triglycerides.
13. Vitamin C For Memory
Studies have shown that lower levels of vitamin C may correspond with impaired cognitive function. And oxidative stress is likely a key factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
It stands to reason then, that studies have shown that when vitamin C intake increases, levels of dementia and cognitive decline decreases.
14. Vitamin C for Healthy Skin
When levels of vitamin C inside the body are low, we can start to see that reflected in the skin. People with vitamin C deficiency often have rough, dry or inflamed skin. We also know that vitamin C helps make collagen…so it only makes sense that beauty industry professionals decided applying vitamin C to our skin topically might have a benefit.
Turns out they were right — vitamin C serums are amazing natural skin boosters, evening out redness and helping to reduce the appearance of dark spots. In addition, it seems to help increase collagen production, which as any woman in her forties knows, helps decrease fine lines and wrinkles. It’s antioxidant benefits also appear to help protect the skin from sun damage.
What Kind Of Vitamin C Is Best?
Focus should be on obtaining vitamin C through your diet first. Many people think citrus fruits (especially oranges) are the top foods for vitamin C content. But did you know that guava, kiwi, bell peppers and strawberries all rank higher? And pine needle tea is touted as having 4-5 times as much vitamin C per serving than an orange! Add in the fact that it's sugar free, caffeine free, and calorie free and it makes a wonderful source of this powerhouse nutrient.