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December 28, 2012

Vitamin C: More Than an Antioxidant

Vitamin C and Oranges

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is best known as an antioxidant, but it does a lot more to improve your health. Vitamin C has cardiovascular benefits, brain and nervous system benefits, improves energy production, enhances tissue healing, improves immune function, and more.

Vitamin C and Cardiovascular Health

Vitamin C improves the health of the endothelium or inner lining of our blood vessels and prevents plague from rupturing which leads to heart attacks and strokes. The LDL cholesterol or bad cholesterol becomes a problem when it is oxidized enabling it to build up in the walls of the blood vessels.  Since it is an antioxidant, ascorbic acid prevents the oxidation of the LDL cholesterol.  Plus, some studies show it to increase the HDL cholesterol, or good cholesterol and lower LDL levels.

Vitamin C and Brain Health

The nervous system utilizes neurotransmitters to transmit nervous impulses from one nerve cell to another. Vitamin C acts as a co-enzyme in the synthesis of a class of neurotransmitters called catecholamines, which include epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

Patients with Alzheimer’s disease have been shown to have deficient levels of the C vitamin.  In animals, vitamin C supplementation has been shown to reverse some types of memory loss. As an antioxidant, it helps protect the brain from free radicals.

Ascorbic acid is vital for collagen formation, a key component of our connective tissue.  Collagen is needed for development of the myelin sheath that insulates our nerves and improves neurotransmission of impulses.

Vitamin C and Tissue Health

As just mentioned above vitamin C plays a large role in the production and maintenance of collagen which is a major support component of our body’s connective tissue. Collagen is necessary for wound and tissue healing.  A breakdown of collagen and the inability to make it contributes to skin aging and thinning of the skin as we age.

Vitamin C and Energy Production

Vitamin C is important for carnitine production.  Carnitine is necessary for the breakdown of fats and transport of fatty acids in the mitochondria, or power plants of the cells. See “Increase Energy Naturally”.

Ascorbic Acid and Immune Function

Studies do suggest that taking ascorbic acid at the onset of the flu can lessen symptoms, shorten the duration of the illness, and reduce the incidence of death following the flu.  Generally, 1,000 mg three times a day is required for these benefits.

Sources of Vitamin C

Excellent sources of ascorbic acid include oranges, peppers, kiwi, grapefruit, strawberries, brussel sprouts, and cantaloupe. Though vitamin C can also be obtained from the juices of fruits, juice tends to be high glycemic so it’s best to eat whole fruits which contain fiber which improves GI health and delays the absorption of sugars found in fruits.

See related article.

“Vitamin C and Its Anti Aging Benefits”

“Anti Aging Supplements for the Heart”

“Myth: If You Eat Well You Don’t Need Nutrtitional Supplements”

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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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