Last month, I talked about the optimal sources and dosages of vitamin c for the human diet. While, I did briefly mention the health benefits of vitamin c, I did not go into much detail. So, today, we shall take a better look at the benefits of vitamin c.
What are the roles of vitamin c in the body?
First of all, it acts as an antioxidant. For anyone who’s been trying to stay healthy, the word antioxidant should not sound unfamiliar. Antioxidants negate the damage done by oxidative stress. Oxidation is a part of chemistry and biology that involves the transfer of electrons between molecules (for those who’ve studied chemistry, oxidation-reduction reactions should come to mind). Excessive oxidation can be harmful for the body.
Anyway, this study talks about the effectiveness of ascorbic acid as an antioxidant. It even notes the correlation between vitamin-c-rich fruit consumption and increased longevity.
It had been claimed for years that vitamin c can help fight cancer, a disease which could be caused by excessive oxidative damage amongst other causes. A study in the 1970s found a 4.2 greater average-survival-time for cancer patients ingesting asorbate, in contrast to the patients who were on nothing. However, a more recent study found no advantage in survival between cancer patients using vitamin c and cancer patients on a placebo. So, the jury is still out on whether or not vitamin c is useful for fighting cancer.
Another role that vitamin c has in the body is that it’s a cofactor for numerous physiological processes. Basically, you reduce the amount of vitamin c in your body, and you slow down certain important bodily processes.
One of the physiological processes that requires vitamin c (and that I find very important) is collagen synthesis. Collagen synthesis is the process of body producing collagen – a protein found in skin, joints, and bone. What happens if you slow down collagen synthesis? Your joints, skin, and bones become weaker. Also, healing of those tissues would be inhibited if collagen synthesis was not up to par. This study discusses how vitamin c deficiency is a limiting factor in collagen synthesis, and a cause of scurvy.
A human joint.
There are even more claimed health benefits of vitamin c, such as boosting the immune system, but many of these claims are not fully proven or well-understood. However, by looking at the health benefits discussed already, it’s a no-brainer that vitamin c is crucial for the human body.
While I like getting the nutrient from whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables, I’ll take supplemental vitamin c if I feel the need to. Camu camu powder is the source I choose – check out my review on camu camu powder as a vitamin c supplement.