Vitamin C: benefits, how to protect our skin and detoxify us

Vitamina C benefici per le nostre difese

Vitamin C: benefits, how to protect our skin and detoxify us

Who at this time has not yet enjoyed a good orange juice to recover during a cold and boost immunity?

If you haven’t yet, here’s one more reason to stock up on vitamin C at home (and not just with oranges): a detox antioxidant for young, healthy skin!

Indice dei contenuti

History of vitamin C

Vitamin C or “ascorbic acid,” derives its name from the term “scurvy,” a disease due precisely to severe ascorbic acid deficiency. This correlation was first discovered by an English physician, James Lind, around 1750 observing that lemons were able to prevent and cure scurvy, a very common disease among sailors given the long periods at sea without the possibility of fresh food.

Where to find it?

Vitamin C is a molecule that humans cannot synthesize so we must take it in through the diet. Excellent levels of ascorbic acid are found in fruits and vegetables, especially in currants and peppers but also in arugula, kiwi, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, clementines, spinach, oranges and lemons.

It must also be remembered that vitamin C is a molecule that is easily degraded by heat, oxygen, and light and is reduced during storage at room temperature, while it seems to be maintained in frozen vegetables. Therefore, one should eat these fresh vegetables raw or at least not cook them for a long time and consume them as soon as possible. In addition, being a water-soluble molecule, it is easily dispersed in water, so it is always best to use little water for cooking.

So let’s find out together about vitamin c and its benefits for our immune system:

Vitamin C for our defenses

This small molecule is perhaps the vitamin with which we are most familiar and whose role in ensuring our defenses by supporting the immune response is commonly known. In fact, vitamin C assists the activity of immune system cells and is useful in counteracting flu-like conditions and rhinitis, reducing both the intensity and duration of symptoms.

Another important function of ascorbic acid is to scavenge free radicals and dispose of toxic oxidants through its antioxidant activity. This vitamin is able to counteract oxidative stress in various tissues especially in combination with vitamin E, another important antioxidant that is regenerated by ascorbic acid and in this way is able to prolong its effectiveness.

Vitamin C benefits and how to detoxify us

Vitamin C also helps the liver in detoxification processes, i.e., those reactions that transform molecules such as drugs and potentially toxic substances into more easily eliminated and less harmful compounds; it also prevents the transformation of nitrates and nitrites(food preservatives) into possible carcinogenic compounds(nitrosamines).

Due to its detoxifying action combined with antioxidant capacity, ascorbic acid can thus be considered an extra tool especially when we feel “intoxicated” or more dull and tired perhaps during the change of season!

Vitamin C for healthy skin

vitamin-c-benefits-for-skinThe skin is the first barrier against the external environment, which is why it first shows signs of aging with loss of elasticity, appearance of wrinkles, graying, increased fragility and dryness.

To support this barrier comes to the rescue is precisely vitamin C, both with the synthesis of collagen, among the main constituents of the dermis to ensure a youthful and healthy appearance, and with its antioxidant capacity to repair damage caused by UV rays, smoke and environmental pollutants.

The vitamin C we take in therefore helps keep our skin healthy:

– Protecting it from damage from the external environment,

– Preventing aging and the appearance of wrinkles,

– Allowing wounds and burns to heal,

– minimizing the formation of scars

What are the optimal levels?

According to the Italian Society of Human Nutrition-SINU, 2014 recommended daily vitamin C intake levels vary according to age, sex and particular conditions such as pregnancy and lactation.

Approximately 10-15 mg/day is enough to avert severe deficiency and consequently scurvy, but to ensure optimal levels we will talk, particularly in children, about values ranging from 25mg/day up to 3 years of age, 30mg/day up to 6 years of age, 45 mg/day from 7 to 10 years of age until adult requirements are reached (equal to 85mg/day for females and 105mg/day for males) during adolescence.

During pregnancy and lactation, on the other hand, higher levels (100mg/day and at 130mg/day, respectively) will be needed because vitamin C will be used in the fetus and then in the infant, via breast milk, for the development of bones, teeth, and connective tissue.

When do you need a higher intake of vitamin C?

Vitamin C levels have been seen to be reduced by smoking (a major source of oxidants), alcohol, air pollutants, heavy metals, stress, high fever, and in various diseases (infectious diseases, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes). So in these cases it would be helpful to increase the recommended daily dose.

For example, in the case of smokers, it would serve to add at least another 35 mg of ascorbic acid daily, or even, as we have already seen, supplement with vitamin C to shorten and relieve common cold symptoms.

What happens in case of vitamin C deficiency?

In case of a mild deficiency, symptoms such as: fatigability, nervousness, insomnia, low mood, and increased susceptibility to infections and petechiae (small hemorrhages) may be observed.

While a severe deficiency results in the onset of scurvy with weakness, bleeding of the gums, lesions of the teeth, subcutaneous hemorrhage, bone injury, and decreased wound healing capacity (due to collagen deficiency), and if left untreated is fatal.

What happens in case of excess vitamin C?

Ascorbic acid is a vitamin with low toxicity, which is tolerated even at high doses. In fact, unlike fat-soluble vitamins, water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C cannot be stored in the body, and in the case of high intakes relative to requirements, excesses are eliminated with urine, which is why it must be taken daily.

The established maximum daily intake is 1000 mg/day for adults, higher doses (5-10 g of vitamin C with a single dose) in fact could cause disorders of the gastrointestinal system, such as nausea, abdominal cramps and diarrhea, especially on an empty stomach, or increase the risk of developing kidney stones, especially in the predisposed male population, but in the case of higher than recommended intakes (1g per day) and prolonged over time.

When to take it in the day?

Vitamin C can be taken either on an empty or full stomach. Given its ability to increase the absorption of iron found in vegetables, especially in iron-deficient individuals, it is advisable to take vitamin C with meals. Conversely, in the rare cases where excess iron is a problem, it is best to avoid taking vitamin C along with iron-rich foods.

In cases of stomach acidity, esophagitis, acid reflux, or nausea associated with vitamin C intake, it may be helpful to take it with meals.

Some medications, in the presence of Vitamin C, are less effective including oral anticoagulants and tricyclic antidepressants, so best taken at different times of the day.

As we have read therefore, vitamin C is an essential molecule for us, to be taken consistently and in optimal amounts, so as to ensure that our bodies have the tools to defend ourselves and to be able to carry out all the processes in which this vitamin is involved…

Vitamin C: a small and fragile molecule that can make a difference!

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Vitamin C an ally for your immune system

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