Americans love to celebrate. Throughout the year, many observe a long list of informal holidays dedicated to things like bagels, napping, selfies, and more.
On April 4th, some holiday fanatics will be celebrating Vitamin C Day. This year marks the day’s first observance, as beauty experts want to raise more awareness around its importance. At first glance, it may seem silly, but how much do you really know about Vitamin C?
Let’s find out. A short history lesson before we dive right in can help reveal some amazing facts about this supplement.
Vitamin C Has Been Around For Ages
Vitamin C is found within a variety of fruits and vegetables. It’s been around for far longer than we have. As nutrition research began to emerge in the 18th century, Vitamin C’s usefulness quickly became apparent.
During this time, a disease called scurvy affected many people. A British physician by the name of Sir Thomas Barlow ultimately realized how Vitamin C could help.
In the late 19th century, Barlow provided the world with a detailed understanding of just how scurvy developed. He revealed how simply eating more fruits and vegetables with Vitamin C could help fend off the pervasive illness. Today, scurvy is very rare, and ingesting enough Vitamin C is easy to do.
A Nutrient With Many Health Benefits
We often turn to vitamin-packed orange juice when fighting off a cold, but Vitamin C can do so much more. Here are some of the many other reasons why consuming this nutrient can help you live a healthier life:
1. It Keeps Your Heart Strong
More research is needed, but medical experts believe that Vitamin C may help reduce the risk of a heart attack. A study in Denmark explored the link between people whose diets were rich in fruits and vegetables versus those who rarely ate fresh food. They then related this data to cardiovascular disease.
Among 100,000 people analyzed, those who ingested more Vitamin C remained healthier. While it’s possible that a more varied diet played a large role, doctors are hopeful about this possible link.
2. Vitamin C Helps Prevent Diabetes
Don’t misunderstand: it takes more than a bit of citrus each day to fend off type 2 diabetes. However, experts have found a link between Vitamin C and the development of this disease.
Much like the studies surrounding Vitamin C intake and heart disease, medical professionals are finding that regularly consuming fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamin C reduces the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Again, whether it’s the nutrient itself or simply the healthier diet remains to be seen, but a little extra C can’t hurt, right?
3. It’s Your Best Beauty Tool
There are a plethora of products on the market that keep skin looking young and radiant; how helpful can Vitamin C be? Quite a bit, it turns out. This nutrient contains anti-aging properties and antioxidants galore. Whether you use a serum at night or a morning moisturizer, Vitamin C helps to smooth skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Dermatologists across the world are turning to this supplement to offer beauty benefits to people of all ages.
4. Smoking Depletes Vitamin C
There’s a myth floating around that taking extra vitamins can help to cancel out the effects of smoking cigarettes, but we’d recommend against jumping on that bandwagon.
Smoking can deplete the body of Vitamin C at an increased rate. However, taking extra amounts of this nutrient won’t counteract smoking’s effects. Smoking can damage blood vessels, and while some studies show Vitamin C injections can bring a slight improvement in vascular health, quitting the dangerous habit would be far more effective.
5. We Can’t Make Our Own Vitamin C
Many people think of vitamins and supplements as things that must be consumed. Surprisingly though, humans are some of the only mammals that cannot make our own Vitamin C. This means that in order to access this vital nutrient, we must ingest it from other sources.
Scientists refer to this as an “inborn metabolic error,” and are only just now truly realizing how essential Vitamin C is for our health and wellbeing. Thankfully, our bodies have learned how to process and utilize this essential vitamin.
6. It Comes From A Variety of Healthy Sources
Citrus fruits always come to mind when talking about Vitamin C, but there are an incredible number of other fruits and vegetables that contain this important substance. Chili peppers, thyme, kale, guava, and parsley, for example, contain the vitamin. Oddly enough, even broccoli and brussels sprouts contain a measurable amount, so the next time you feel a cold coming on, reaching for a leafy green may be just as smart as downing a glass of orange juice!
7. It’s Healthy in Small Amounts
Even though Vitamin C can be extremely beneficial, it can be too much of a good thing. Despite the fact that it occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables, too much of this nutrient can bring about some unpleasant effects.
Very large doses of Vitamin C can cause diarrhea, headaches, insomnia, heartburn, and even vomiting. Ultimately, our bodies aren’t designed to process large amounts of anything during a short period of time. To maximize the benefits that Vitamin C can bring, ingest it in small, daily portions.
8. Can Vitamin C Cure Cancer?
We’re going to spend a bit of extra time on this topic, because it’s a Vitamin C benefit up for debate.
There’s a myth that megadosing on Vitamin C can cure cancer, but it didn’t come out of thin air. A variety of studies on individuals with cancer who received Vitamin C intravenously point to the potential for this treatment to work. The efficacy of this method was first considered in the late 1970s. Studies over the last several decades have attempted to understand just how cancer cells respond to this therapy.
At best, it seems as if the combination of the vitamin and traditional cancer treatment, including radiation and chemotherapy, does have promising results. This is even when compared to treatment without added Vitamin C. However, skeptics are not sure that this nutrient has as great an impact as many believe.
Ultimately, it’s clear that we need more trials before the use of Vitamin C becomes conventional therapy.
How to Increase your Intake of Vitamin C
It’s clear that ingesting enough Vitamin C in your daily diet can bring a host of benefits to your life, so how do you achieve that?
It turns out that what you eat and how you prepare it will play a major role in this process. It’s estimated that men need roughly 90 milligrams of this nutrient per day, while women only need about 75. How will you get your C?
Fruits and vegetables that contain Vitamin C naturally start to lose their efficacy as they age. Eating your produce when it’s fresh is key. While it may seem contrary to the way we think about a traditional healthy diet, selecting frozen fruits and vegetables can also be a wise way to get enough Vitamin C. This frozen-while-fresh produce allows you to take advantage of their nutrients at any time.
Preparing your vegetables properly is important as well. Boiling can release vitamins into the water, instead of staying in the food you eat. The next time you’re planning on eating a green that’s rich in Vitamin C, try steaming or microwaving it with as little water as possible.
Using more citrus is also an obvious way to incorporate more Vitamin C into your life, but get creative with how you do so. Keep a bowl of fruit on the counter as a visual reminder to select a healthy snack, or squeeze a bit of lime on your tacos at dinner. Choosing a light lunch of fruit and cheese can also be beneficial.
Unless you’re taking massive amounts of Vitamin C pills every day, you likely won’t be overdosing on this essential nutrient. Take the time to make food choices that are high in Vitamin C content and enjoy the benefits of great skin, a healthy heart, and a greater level of health and well-being!
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About Slingshot Health
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