Top 4 Amazing Benefits of Vitamin C

January 24, 2017

in Ask Dr Lisa, Family Health

Foods containing vitamin A on a wooden background.

” Dr. Lisa, what are the benefits of Vitamin C besides boosting the immune system? I read that it helps with gum disease as well as may improve my son’s ASD challenges. I am not entirely clear on the facts and would love to learn more. You were the person I thought would know! Thank-you for your time answering this email. “- Jenny, Colorado

Your questions are spot on. We usually here that vitamin C is great for boosting the immune system, but there are more amazing benefits of this super nutrient. I personally take vitamin C for gum inflammation (gotta love the 40’s) and keeping my family’s immune system strong. You are right- it is a vitamin that I have included in my son’s wellness plan to help improve his ASD challenges and overall health.

Let’s dive in and look at the top 4 benefits of vitamin C. Make sure you grab my delicious cold fighting Orange Ginger Tea recipe too- huge hit in my home.

Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) is an extremely important water-soluble vitamin. Since the body does not make vitamin C, it needs to be consumed through the diet. It has many bodily functions, such as protecting the body from heart disease, sickness, cancer and autism characteristics. It is a strong antioxidant and immune booster and plays a role in maintaining healthy bones, teeth and gums.

Not getting enough Vitamin C may create a vitamin C deficiency. Symptoms include fatigue, muscle weakness, joint and muscle aches, bleeding gums, and leg rashes. Prolonged deficiency can cause scurvy as well.  Let’s explore this super vitamin a bit closer…

Where Can We Find Vitamin C

Vitamin C is abundant in fruits and vegetables such as apples, oranges, strawberries, grapefruit, guava, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, cauliflower, lemons, limes, kiwi, kale, spinach, red and green bell peppers and tomatoes. It also can be taken in supplement form.

The Top 10 Foods Highest in Vitamin C are:

  • Guava 1 fruit 125 mg
  • Red bell peppers ½ cup chopped, raw 95 mg
  • Oranges 1 large 82 mg
  • Kale 1 cup 80 mg
  • Kiwi 1 piece 64 mg
  • Green bell peppers ½ c chopped, raw 60 mg
  • Broccoli ½ cup cooked 51 mg
  • Brussels sprouts ½ cup cooked 48 mg
  • Grapefruit ½ cup 43 mg
  • Strawberries ½ cup 42 mg

 

How Much Vitamin C Do We Need Daily?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the recommended vitamin C daily allowance (RDA) for adults over age 19 is men 90 mg per day, women 75 mg per day, pregnant women 85 mg per day and breastfeeding women 120 mg per day.

NIH recommends infants 0-6 months old 40 mg per day, infants 7-12 months old 50 mg per day, toddlers 1-3 years old 15 mg per day, children 4-8 years old 25 mg per day, children 9-13 years old 45 mg per day, male teens 14-18 years old 75 mg per day and female teens 14-18 years old 65 mg per day.

Higher intakes of vitamin C have been noted to be safe although there may be some unpleasant effects such as diarrhea and nausea. Take a small amount and increase slowly, watching for any unpleasant effects and gradually increase the intake as you go. I always recommend testing your and your child’s vitamin C levels to find out if there is a true deficiency and discussing supplementing and/or increasing vitamin C intakes with your medical doctor and nutritionist before doing so. I offer this service in office and via Skype and Face Time (we meet for a consultation and locate a lab near you- then we review your lab findings during another Skype or Face Time visit with me). You can contact me here if you are interested.

When giving my family vitamin C I focus on making sure my weekly meals include foods high in vitamin C. In times we need to supplement (my gum inflammation situation for example), we use a certified organic wholefood supplement such as this one here. I personally need a higher dosage where the kids do not, so I use a high quality brand from my local health food store.

4 Amazing Benefits of Vitamin C

Healthy Immune Function

Our immune system is made up of white blood cells which protect the body from sickness. Vitamin C stimulates the production of white blood cells and helps these immune cells to function properly. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, meaning it helps protect all cells including white blood cells from oxidative damage. This ultimately keeps them functioning to their optimum potential. There are debates if vitamin C prevents or helps fight off colds. Recent studies show that daily vitamin C consumption does reduce the frequency and duration of the common cold. Studies also have reported conditions such as asthma benefit from the antioxidant effects of vitamin C. One study showed asthmatic children given 250 mg vitamin C and 50 mg vitamin E per day had markedly decreased responses to environmental asthma triggers, and another showed 1500 mg vitamin C supplements per day reduced the amount of long-term inhaled corticosteroids needed by adults with asthma. Sounds like a vitamin super hero to me.

Supports a Healthy Heart

Vitamin C has been reported to relax or dilate blood vessels in the body. This ability for blood vessels to dilate is termed vasodilation which decreases in people with arteriosclerosis or plaque in the arteries. It also occurs with angina pectoris (chest pains), congestive heart failure, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. The inability to vasodilate is now considered to be a risk factor for heart disease. The good news is numerous studies have demonstrated Vitamin C improves vasodilation in people with heart disease. Dr. Mercola’s article on the benefits of Vitamin C reports The American Heart Journal 2011 concluded a 20 µmol /liter increase in vitamin C was associated with a 9% reduction of heart failure and “if everyone were to take 500 mg of vitamin C per day — the dose required to reach a healthy level of 80 µmol/L — an estimated 216,000 lives could be spared each year.” A simple daily dose a vitamin C goes a long way.

Maintains Healthy Bones, Teeth and Gums

Vitamin C is also associate with bone health. A higher intake of vitamin C has been reported to reduce risk of fractures. In fact, low levels of vitamin C have been reported in patients experiencing hip fractures. It also has been reported vitamin C consumption can prevent risk of hip fractures as well. For example, it was reported in the Framingham Osteoporosis Study, participants with the highest intake of vitamin C had significantly fewer fractures compared to those with the lowest vitamin C intake. Higher intake of vitamin C has been associated with a lower rate of bone loss as we age too. There are many studies reporting that individuals with osteoporosis have lower levels of vitamin C. It is a true bone protector.

Vitamin C is also a gum warrior. Gum disease is more common today regardless of advancements in tooth cleaning technologies. The good news is vitamin C is one of the natural treatments for gum disease. It has been stated that it is the most effective treatment for gum disease since a high percentage of gum disease cases have been reported to be caused by improper vitamin C intake.

Vitamin C and Autism

Vitamin C has been shown to be beneficial to children with autism. There are studies demonstrating this with many theories explaining it as well. One study was shown to have a calming effect on behavior which suggests this is due to the brain’s response to the neurotransmitter dopamine 6. Vitamin C has been hypothesized to have a “protective effect in the development of tolerance and dependence by modifying the dopaminergic or glutamatergic neurotransmission”. Some researchers also suggest due to its antioxidant behavior, vitamin C protects the body against free radical effects which researchers theorize children with autism many have difficulty managing against.

One study showed that high doses of vitamin C in children with autism had significant positive effects on behavior, compared against their own behavior scores when they were taking a placebo. Another few studies I found interesting were in a review by Irwin Stone in his book The Healing Factor: Vitamin C Against Disease. I found these studies fascinating as his review reports how vitamin C supplementation improves conditions such as high lead ingestion. He also discusses the protection of vitamin C against arsenic, mercury, benzene, chemical and bacterial toxin build up in the body.

This leads to another interesting benefit I came across in my research regarding vitamin C benefits and autism: vaccinations. Vitamin C seems to play an important role in protecting children against the adverse effects of vaccination as well as, other events causing stress to the body.  A very popular Australian doctor, Dr. Archie Kalokerinos, witnessed a double increase in child mortality among Aboriginals after vaccinations. Due to his theory that the body naturally needing extra vitamin C supplementation in stress situations such as vaccination, infections, emotional stress or diseases, he advised against vaccinating sick or not yet fully recovered children. He also started giving vitamin C to Aboriginal children, and in doing so he was able to reduce child mortality, at the time about 50%, to practically zero.

Due to vitamin C’s amazing ability to protect the body against heart disease, colds and illness, oxidative stress, modification of the dopaminergic neurotransmission, harmful toxin affects and adverse effects of stressful events such as, but not limited to, vaccinations, infections, emotional stress and diseases, children with autism may benefit greatly by increasing their intake of vitamin C foods.

I highly recommend you do not give your child a supplement without knowing if he is deficient and without checking with your medical doctor and nutritionist first. I do vitamin and mineral lab testing and not all children with autism are deficient in vitamin C, but I have found many to be. It is always prudent to find out. However, working on including vitamin C rich foods in your child’s diet is a great place to start.

Follow my fast track solution- if you want to learn how to eat healthy and improve chronic health issues and ASD, you can meet with me asap. I offer a one hour consultation in office and via Skype and Face Time where we can discuss your or your child’s health issues, what I do and how I can help you start to eat right and overcome health problems.  You can contact me here if you are interested. Also, make sure you try my delicious Orange Ginger Tea which is loaded with vitamin C and cold fighting power. My kids love this too so it is a win for the family.

Resources: *Always read my disclaimer. This page contains affiliate links meaning we earn a commission if you use those links. We only recommend brands we use and trust. Photo credit is Dollar Photo/Adobe.

 

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