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The Power of Vitamin C

You may have heard that taking vitamin C can boost your immune system to help you fight off infections, but this powerful little antioxidant can do so much more! 

Researchers have found that taking vitamin C supplements can lower inflammation, build stronger bones, prevent disease, and so much more!

Dr. Mark Moyad, of the University of Michigan, recently analyzed data from more than 100 studies on the effects of vitamin C. The results of this analysis were published in Seminars in Preventive and Alternative Medicine.

According to Moyad, “The more we study vitamin C, the better our understanding of how diverse it is in protecting our health, from cardiovascular, cancer, stroke, eye health immunity to living longer.”

Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

Oxidative stress is caused by free radical damage on a cellular level. Researchers believe this damage contributes to disease, such as Alzheimer’s disease, age-related memory problems, and cancer. 

A study published in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that participants who took high levels of vitamin C were at a 17% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Taking vitamins A and E also helped to improve the cognitive abilities of participants and prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s. 

Stops Damage from Second-Hand Smoke

A research team from the  University of California, Berkeley, led by Gladys Block, looked at the effects of vitamin C on oxidative stress caused by environmental tobacco smoke. The free radicals in cigarette smoke damage cells and can lead to cancer, heart disease, and other chronic diseases. Researchers found that taking high levels of vitamin C protected participants from oxidative stress. 

Taking vitamin C does not guarantee that you will not experience secondhand smoke related heart disease or cancer. However, researchers do note that these chronic conditions are caused by oxidative stress and that vitamin C lowers oxidative stress on the cells. 

Researchers point out that it would be wise to take vitamin C as a precautionary measure if your are chronically exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work. They also recommend that you get vitamin C through your diet by eating the nine recommended servings of fruits and vegetables.

Strengthens Bones

Taking vitamin C can actually strengthen your bones more than taking calcium! Vitamin C deficiency, also known as scurvy, can cause brittle bones. One study examined the relationship between vitamin C and osteoporosis-related fractures in postmenopausal women. Researchers found that participants who took vitamin C supplements had higher bone density, especially in the femoral neck. 

Another study reported in The Bone & Joint Journal found that taking vitamin C can help bones heal after fractures. Researchers suspect that this is due vitamin C’s ability to lower inflammation and reduce the amount of free radical damage caused at the fracture site. Once these free radicals have been neutralized, the body is able to heal faster.

Fights Against Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, doctors have begun using intravenous infusions of vitamin C to treat cancer. Vitamin C works together with enzymes to help the body produce collagen. Using intravenous infusions to administer vitamin C allows cancer patients to absorb much higher levels of this powerful antioxidant than they could with oral supplements. These high doses of vitamin C have been shown to kill cancer cells. 

The National Cancer Institute reports, “Treatment with high-dose vitamin C slowed the growth and spread of prostate, pancreatic, liver, colon, malignant mesothelioma, neuroblastoma, and other types of cancer cells.” 

Vitamin C can improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatments for certain cancers. 

It also prevents the exhaustion infections often experienced by cancer patients. This powerful antioxidant can help cancer patients to bruise and bleed less as it rebuilds and thickens the collagen in their veins. 

Keeps Infection at Bay

Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University have found that within the context of a laboratory culture, vitamin C can kill drug-resistant tuberculosis bacteria. These findings were released in the online journal Nature Communications.

Researchers hope that these results can be recreated in clinical studies as well. Using vitamin C to kill tuberculosis bacteria and other infectious bacteria could be an inexpensive and readily available treatment for these dangerous bacterial infections.

Predicts Heart Disease and Diabetes 

The levels of vitamin C in your blood could indicate your risk for heart disease and diabetes. Another study from the University of California, Berkeley shows that taking vitamin C supplements can reduce the amounts of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the body. These results were published in Free Radical Biology and Medicine

Researchers have found that those who have higher amounts of CRP are at a greater risk of experiencing heart attack, diabetes, stroke, and peripheral artery disease. These same results were not found when participants took other antioxidants, like vitamin E.

University of California researchers point out that those who have high levels of CRP without correspondingly high levels of LDL cholesterol could avoid taking statin medications by beginning vitamin C therapy.

Promotes Healthy Blood Vessels

Beginning vitamin C supplement therapy has been linked with improved blood vessel health. In a study published in Atherosclerosis, researchers analyzed data from 44 controlled trials involving vitamin C and heart disease. 

Researchers found that participants who took vitamin C were at a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and were also at a lower risk for experiencing stiffening of the blood vessels. This blood vessel stiffening occurs before the onset of cardiovascular disease. Researchers found that participants who were at the highest risk of developing cardiovascular disease experienced the most improvement in blood vessel flexibility.

How Much do You Need?

Most of us do not eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables to absorb a therapeutic level of vitamin C from diet alone. Doctors and researchers recommend taking at least 500 milligrams of vitamin C per day on top of eating nine servings of fruits and vegetables.

Some people experience an upset stomach after taking vitamin C supplements, so look for one that is buffered and non-acidic. Check with your doctor before taking supplements to be sure that there is no interaction with current therapies you have been prescribed.

 

SOURCES:

http://health.yahoo.net/experts/dayinhealth/surprising-vitamin-long-life

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/the-benefits-of-vitamin-c

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/highdosevitaminc/patient/page2

http://www.bjj.boneandjoint.org.uk/content/89-B/3/402.long;

Image courtesy of arztsamui/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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