There are many benefits of vitamin C. Humans, like apes, guinea pigs and some lizards and birds, cannot make their own supply of vitamin C and must obtain this important vitamin from food sources. The benefits of vitamin C are many. They include prevention of potentially fatal deficiency diseases such as scurvy, as well as essential functions such as repairing the body tissue, including helping the body heal from cuts and wounds of all types.
The Many Benefits of Vitamin C
Vitamin C supports many tasks within the human body and is critical for good health. Among its many benefits are disease prevention, healing, and prevention of damage to cells and tissues.
James Lind, a British Navy Surgeon, was the first to discover that vitamin C caused a deficiency disease called scurvy. It is said that more sailors died from scurvy than from the rigors of life at sea prior to Lind's discovery. Adequate intake of vitamin C is essential to prevent scurvy. It's also thought to prevent the common cold and boost immune system health.
Cancer and Viral Disease Research
The Vitamin C Foundation, a non profit organization, posts results of studies from around the world on the use of vitamin C as both a potential cancer prevention and treatment option. Their site links to published studies and study synopses detailing clinical trials and studies using vitamin C alone or in conjunction with other vitamins, such as vitamin E, to treat cancer, shingles and herpes viruses. Some promising lines of inquiry include:
Vitamin C, when used in conjunction with vitamin E, may destroy pancreatic cancer cells. So far this has been tested in laboratory studies only, but it's opening up new avenues of research that someday could lead to treatment options for people with life-threatening and difficult to cure pancreatic cancer. Increasing one's dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish oil and krill oil supplements, combined with vitamin C and E may reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Keep in mind that the headlines do not indicate conclusive results or recommendations for the treatment or prevention of disease. Rather, they summarize the exciting world of vitamin research and what's going on worldwide in the study of vitamin C and its effects on the body.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, meaning it helps neutralize free radicals. Free radical production occurs naturally; however, too many free radicals may damage cellular DNA, resulting in premature aging, and worst of all, incomplete or incorrect cell division. This can lead to tumors, growths and cancer.
A study cited on Web MD from Seminars in Preventive and Alternative Medicine looked at 10 years of research on vitamin C. The list of benefits includes:
- Shortening the duration and severity of colds and flus (although the authors do not believe it can prevent cold and flu)
- Boosting cardiovascular health
- Preventing eye diseases such as macular degeneration
- Boosts immune system response
- Anti-aging vitamin, keeping skin looking young and healthy
The Linus Pauling Institute, a noted research group, lists a long summary of the potential benefits of this vitamin and goes into great detail about the effectiveness of the vitamin for certain conditions, as reported in reputable health and medical journals.
Obtaining Health Benefits
Many experts, such as those quoted in the Web MD article previously cited, believe that the current RDA is set too low for health benefits. Keep in mind that RDA stands for "Recommended Daily Allowance" or the lowest limit needed; the amount needed for health benefits may be higher than the RDA. The safest way to obtain more vitamin C is to eat a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. Eating nine servings per day and including a variety of produce in the diet is the best way to ensure adequate vitamin intake.
Vitamin C holds great promise and has many health benefits. Whether you take this supplement alone or in conjunction with others, be sure to tell your doctor about any vitamins, herbs or nutritional supplements you're taking.