Vitamin C; The Latest Research on Why You Need It
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) has been found to be a powerful and essential antioxidant. This function plays a significant role in the prevention of clinical conditions associated with free radical damage.
What Are Free Radicals And Antioxidants?
Free radicals are highly reactive compounds that are capable of causing biological damage, such as injury to DNA and cell membranes.
Free radicals are manufactured during the body’s normal functioning, as well as through outside factors like cigarette smoking and air pollution. Fighting the action of free radicals are antioxidants – compounds that have the ability to prevent the damaging activity of free radicals.
This in turn aids in the prevention of clinical conditions associated with free radical harm. Antioxidants are also important for the functioning of the immune system, being used to kill micro-organisms. ‘Oxidative-stress’ results from an excess of free radicals in conjunction with a deficiency of antioxidants.
Some of the Clinical Conditions Associated with Free Radical Damage:
- Chronic Gout
- Coronary Heart Disease
- Heart Failure
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
What the Research Says
From this list it is apparent that the consequences to health of inadequate antioxidant intake can be very serious. Current research has revealed the crucial role of Vitamin C in combating the constant attack of free radicals. Significantly, Vitamin C has also been proven to recycle Vitamin E and cause it work more effectively (Vitamin E being another important antioxidant).
The news for smokers is not good, with double the concern. Not only does cigarette smoking increase your levels of free radicals, in addition it diminishes your antioxidant levels. Vitamin C supplementation has been found to dramatically increase the body’s circulating concentrations of both Vitamin C and Vitamin E in smokers and non-smokers. In a study published in the Free Radical Biology and Medicine Journal, Vitamin C supplementation produced a 25% reduction in the disappearance of circulating Vitamin E in smokers, and a 45% reduction in non-smokers.
A two month trial involving comparisons between subjects taking Vitamin C supplements (500mg/day) and those taking a placebo, demonstrated that Vitamin C reduces uric acid levels. This is a positive finding for people suffering from urate-related diseases such as Gout.
The antioxidant role of Vitamin C has also been shown in relation to Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, a condition commonly leading to coronary artery disease. Oxidative stress has been found to be a factor in the development of coronary artery disease.
A recent study with Systemic Lupus patients investigated the effects of Vitamin C and Vitamin E on the oxidative stress present. The results were encouraging, once again illustrating the benefit of antioxidants.
The patients who were treated with Vitamin C and Vitamin E experienced a significant lowering in markers of oxidative stress called MDA (malondialdehyde). Therefore, Vitamin C and Vitamin E may be useful in the treatment of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and coronary artery disease.
Further links between Vitamin C and reduction in heart disease have been found. Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory effects, and is associated with lower endotheial dysfunction (dysfunction of the cells lining the heart). Research demonstrates that Vitamin C intake is significantly and inversely associated with concentrations of C-reactive protein, which is a marker of endothelial dysfunction.
Sources of Vitamin C
All fruits and vegetables contain some Vitamin C, but at varying levels. Foods naturally high in Vitamin C include oranges (and other citrus fruits), strawberries, brussel sprouts, capsicums and grapefruits. It is worth considering Vitamin C supplementation, as obtaining adequate amounts through diet alone is difficult.