A, B, C, D…
Are you singing the alphabet song, or trying to keep track of the vitamins required to maintain a healthy body and lifestyle?
It can be overwhelming at times, but today we will have a closer look at one of these vitamins – vitamin C – as well as when you might want to consider nutritional counseling with a naturopathic doctor.
It’s important to make sure your body is getting ALL the vitamins you need to thrive.
What Is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient, which means it can’t be produced by the body. This means you need to get it from somewhere else – typically your diet or supplementing.
It’s a water-soluble vitamin, which means your body can absorb it without having to take it along with fats.
Today we’ll look at what can happen if you don’t get enough vitamin C, the roles it plays in the body, as well as dietary sources of this important nutrient.
What Does Vitamin C Deficiency Look Like?
Vitamin C is found in many of the foods and fruits and vegetables we eat today, and as such, vitamin C deficiency is rare, but has not completely disappeared.
A 2007 article presented in the journal Nutrition in Clinical Practice reviewed a case of vitamin C deficiency in a 65 year old man, which resulted in scurvy.
The man had signs of bruising even though he reported no history of traumatic injury, poor oral health, and skin disease.
Other symptoms of scurvy include:
● Bleeding under the skin
● Wounds which heal at a slower than normal rate
● Shortness of breath
Although it’s rarely seen in the modern world, knowing the signs of scurvy is still important, so it can be diagnosed when it does occur.
Dietary Sources Of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is found in a large number of fruits and vegetables.
Despite this, there are many adults not getting enough vitamin C in their diet.
To up your vitamin C intake, consider adding the following to your diet:
● Citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit
● Green pepper
● White Potatoes and sweet potatoes
● Raspberries and blueberries
● Brussels sprouts
Why Is Vitamin C So Important?
Vitamin C has a number of health benefits.
Read along as we explore the role vitamin C plays in the body.
1. It’s A Powerful Antioxidant
You’ve probably heard of antioxidants, and have an idea that they’re good for you, but what exactly do they do?
Antioxidants help to protect against damage from free radicals (unstable atoms which can damage cells), pollutants, and toxic chemicals.
Left unchecked, free radicals can build up and contribute to cancer and heart disease.
2. It Helps Your White Blood Cells Work Better
It’s fairly widely known that vitamin C can help boost immunity – but how exactly does it do this?
Firstly, vitamin C helps promote the formation of white blood cells, which help fight infections in the body.
Secondly, vitamin C helps white blood cells function more effectively and protects them from harmful chemicals such as free radicals.
And third, vitamin C helps to strengthen skin barriers.
Taking vitamin C can help wounds to heal faster than they otherwise would.
3. May Help With High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a growing issue for Canadians over the age of 50.
It can increase the risk of heart disease, which is a leading cause of death across the world.
A 2012 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found in short-term trials, supplementation with vitamin C resulted in reductions in blood pressure.
It is important to note although there are short-term effects of vitamin C on blood pressure, the long-term effects are still unknown.
Further, those with high blood pressure should not rely solely on vitamin C for treatment of this condition.
4. May Help You Manage Your Stress
People who suffer from a lot of stress may have weakened immune systems as a result.
There are many naturopathic ways to relieve stress, one of which is vitamin C.
It has been shown individuals with high levels of vitamin C are less subject to the psychological and physical signs of stress, and rebound faster from stressful situations.
5. Improves Your Absorption Of Iron – Especially For Vegetarians
Another nutrient which is very important for the functioning of the body is iron.
It is important for the formation of red blood cells, which transport oxygen through the bloodstream.
Although there are many sources from which we can obtain iron, some are absorbed better than others by our bodies, and often plant-based sources don’t absorb as easily as meat-based sources.
A 2010 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found ascorbic acid (another name for vitamin C) positively influenced iron absorption.
6. May Reduce Your Risk Of Heart Disease
Heart disease is the second leading cause of death for Canadians, according to Statistic Canada.
Vitamin C may be linked to reduction in risk factors of heart disease, and increases in “good” HDL cholesterol.
There may be a link between lowered heart disease and primarily getting vitamin C from food sources rather than supplements.
However this may also be because people who consume vitamin C rich foods have a healthier lifestyle overall than those who use supplements, so this link needs to be studied further.
Contact The Mindful Healing Clinic
Are you worried you aren’t getting enough vitamin C – or any other vitamin or nutrient in your diet?
Do you worry about the nutritional choices you’re making for yourself and your family – perhaps you’re worried you are missing out on an important vitamin or mineral.
The Mindful Healing clinic can help – contact us today for a consultation to ensure that you’re getting the full, balanced and complete nutrition you need to thrive in today’s busy world.
Until next time,
Dr. Maria Cavallazzi is a medical doctor from Colombia where she practiced as a family physician for 8 years until she moved to Canada 16 years ago and became a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga.