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The importance of vitamin C: Nourishing our well-being from the inside

Feb 01, 2024

Vitamin C , also known as ascorbic acid, plays a vital role in maintaining optimal health and proper functioning of the human body. Indeed, this vitamin, widely recognized for its antioxidant properties, goes well beyond simply preventing colds. Do you want to better understand the importance of this famous vitamin C? In this article, find out everything you need to know on the subject!

What you need to know about vitamin C

What is vitamin C used for?

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is an essential water-soluble vitamin for humans. It plays several essential roles in the functioning of the human body, which is why its importance for health is significant. To see more clearly, here are explanations.

First, vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant by neutralizing free radicals (unstable molecules produced naturally in the body that can damage cells). Thus, by fighting these free radicals, vitamin C helps protect cells against oxidative damage . Speaking of antioxidants, vitamin C can also regenerate other antioxidants , such as vitamin E, increasing their effectiveness.

Furthermore, vitamin C plays a central role in strengthening the immune system . It stimulates the production and activity of white blood cells , which are the body's defense cells, thus helping to fight infections and diseases.

Additionally, vitamin C is essential for the synthesis of collagen , a crucial structural protein found in skin, bones, blood vessels, and other connective tissues. Collagen helps maintain the structural integrity and strength of these tissues .

You should also know that vitamin C improves the absorption of non-heme iron of plant origin in the intestine. This promotes better iron utilization by the body, which is particularly important for preventing iron deficiency.

Finally, studies suggest that vitamin C may have antihistamine effects , which may help alleviate allergy-related symptoms. And some research suggests that vitamin C may play a role in neurological health by protecting the brain against oxidative damage.

What are the main sources of vitamin C?

Generally, vitamin C is found quite easily in various fruits and vegetables. To give you some ideas, here are some of the greatest sources of vitamin C.

Let's start with fruit . In this category, we can first mention citrus fruits . Oranges, lemons, grapefruits and even tangerines are foods rich in vitamin C. Of a completely different color and a very different taste, red fruits (such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries) are also excellent sources of vitamin C. To continue with the tangy fruits, the kiwi is also a fruit rich in vitamin C. This is in the same way as more tropical fruits such as pineapple, papaya or mango.

While it is undeniable that certain fruits can greatly contribute to the necessary supply of vitamin C to the human body, there are also vegetables that can fulfill this role. We're thinking here of red peppers : they are among the vegetables richest in vitamin C. Broccoli , which is a cruciferous vegetable, also contains a significant amount of vitamin C. And don't forget green leafy vegetables , such as kale!

Please note: cooking and prolonged storage can reduce the vitamin C content of the foods listed above. Therefore, it is better to favor the consumption of foods rich in vitamin C in their raw or lightly cooked form to maximize the nutritional benefits.

Recognizing and treating vitamin C deficiency

How to recognize a vitamin C deficiency?

If an individual is deficient in vitamin C, it can lead to a condition called scurvy. The latter is characterized by various symptoms. Below is a list of common symptoms of this condition.

  • First, there is fatigue . Indeed, people with scurvy may experience general fatigue and weakness.
  • Another rather classic symptom is bleeding gums . The gums can become inflamed, tender and prone to bleeding. And in addition to bleeding gums, dental problems such as tooth loss can occur.
  • Vitamin C deficiency can also lead to skin problems such as bruising, dry and rough skin, wounds that heal slowly.
  • Vitamin C being essential for the formation of collagen, a protein contributing to wound healing, in the event of a deficiency, this can cause healing problems .
  • Vitamin C deficiency may contribute to iron deficiency anemia , because vitamin C improves the absorption of non-heme iron from plant sources.
  • In people with scurvy, joint and muscle pain may occur.
  • People with a vitamin C deficiency may be more prone to irritability and depression .

How to treat vitamin C deficiency?

Before trying to overcome a vitamin C deficiency, it is important to first identify and treat the underlying causes of this deficiency . For example, if it is related to intestinal absorption problems, these problems will need to be taken care of first.

Then, to treat a vitamin C deficiency, it generally involves two aspects: oral vitamin C supplementation and a modification of the diet to include foods rich in this vitamin. Below are some of the possible solutions to treat vitamin C deficiency.

  • Vitamin supplements in the form of tablets, capsules or solutions can be prescribed by a healthcare professional to quickly increase vitamin C levels in the body.
  • A varied and balanced diet is also essential in case of vitamin C deficiency! It is indeed essential to incorporate foods rich in vitamin C into the daily diet. As seen earlier in this article, citrus fruits, berries, kiwis, peppers, broccoli and other fruits and vegetables are foods to favor because they are excellent sources of vitamin C.
  • A lifestyle change may also be a solution to consider. If vitamin C deficiency is linked to lifestyle habits such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption or an unbalanced diet, lifestyle changes will need to be made.
  • Medical follow-up is generally recommended. Indeed, a healthcare professional will be able to closely monitor the progress of treatment and adjust the dosage of supplements or advise the consumption of specific foods, based on the individual needs of each person.

 

Please note, any vitamin C supplementation must be carried out under the supervision of a healthcare professional. Indeed, excessive doses can cause adverse effects.

Conclusion

Vitamin C is one of the essential players in the quest for a healthy and energetic life. From strengthened immune defenses to various benefits for the skin, its influence on our overall well-being is no longer in doubt. And whether with a balanced and appropriate diet and/or vitamin supplements, you now have no excuse to avoid a vitamin C deficiency!

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