You know that Vitamin C is good for you. After all, it’s a vitamin. But with high school biology far in your rearview mirror, you may have forgotten why this vitamin is so essential to overall health and what, exactly, it can do for you.
Also known as ascorbic acid, Vitamin C isn’t just a supplement; it’s vital for your health. From forming blood vessels and protecting your immune system to aiding your body in its natural healing process, Vitamin C plays an essential role in many of your body’s functions. Since your body doesn’t naturally produce Vitamin C, it’s imperative that you ensure you’re getting your daily value.
This is your guide to understanding what Vitamin C does and how you can make sure you’re getting enough of it.
Vitamin C 101
Vitamin C is an antioxidant commonly found in fruits and vegetables. There is abundant Vitamin C levels in:
- Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, lemons)
- Leafy greens (kale, spinach, arugula)
- Hard winter squash (butternut, kabocha)
While many animals can produce this vitamin themselves, humans must consume it either as part of a balanced diet or as a supplement. It’s absorbed in the gut tract and transported into the bloodstream, playing a pivotal role in many cellular functions. Daily intake of these fruits and vegetables is an easy way to ensure you're getting enough Vitamin C.
Daily intake of Vitamin C is essential for:
Forming collagen – Collagen gives shape and structure to connective tissue, skin, ligaments, bone marrow and more.
Healing wounds – Healing wounds requires the regrowth of connective tissue. Since Vitamin C plays a role in collagen production, it’s necessary for this process, too.
Repairing other tissues – Sufficient Vitamin C intake also helps heal internal injuries caused by inflammation and oxidation.
When you are Vitamin C deficient, these processes will be interrupted. Did you grow up with horror tales about scurvy? This medical condition, caused by a severe Vitamin C deficiency, leads to fatigue, bleeding gums and the reopening of old wounds.
Getting enough Vitamin C is a basic requirement for overall health. According to the National Institute of Health, men should aim for 90mg a day, while women need at least 75mg.
Beyond preventing archaic illnesses, Vitamin C has a wide range of other potential benefits. Because you’ve been hearing about Vitamin C since childhood, it might not be the first dietary supplement that comes to mind when you think of vitamins that enhance your physical and emotional well-being. But it should be.
Next, we’ll take a look at some specific Vitamin C benefits.
Vitamin C and the Immune System
Improved immunity is one of the best-known health benefits of Vitamin C. To understand Vitamin C’s role in supporting your immune system, it’s helpful to review how the immune system functions in its entirety.
The basics are as follows:
The immune system is complex. It’s made up of your lymphatic system, skin, gut, organs that produce antibodies and signaling hormones and white blood cells that travel throughout the body via the bloodstream.
- Your immune system responds to perceived threats, using specialized white blood cells for everything from signaling the issue to killing invaders.
- Immune response is by nature an inflammatory response. While this is helpful when fighting a disease or healing a wound, chronic inflammation can decrease immunity over time.
Vitamin C supplementation can aid the immune system in several ways, from facilitating the production of white blood cells to reducing inflammation. A 2017 meta-analysis of studies on Vitamin C and immunity concludes that:
"Vitamin C appears to exert a multitude of beneficial effects on cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system. Although vitamin C is a potent antioxidant protecting the body against endogenous and exogenous oxidative challenges, it is likely that its action as a cofactor for numerous biosynthetic and gene regulatory enzymes plays a key role in its immune-modulating effects.”
Next, we’ll take a look at some of the ways in which Vitamin C impacts immunity.
Vitamin C and the Skin
Your skin is the first line of immune system defense which is why it’s important to nourish it. The epidermis—the largest organ in the body—can capture and kill invader cells on its surface. In addition, the speedy healing of cuts and scrapes prevents issues from spreading inwards.
Vitamin C plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy skin in the following ways:
Supports the skin’s barrier function – Vitamin C supplementation can help to increase the concentration of ceramide, a lipid that plays an important role in the skin barrier. Looking for more ways to nourish your skin? Check out our guide on how to heal dry hands.
Combats oxidative stress – When the skin encounters damage, whether from UV rays or environmental pollutants, it can create “free radicals,” or cells missing an electron. This process, also known as oxidative stress, leads the damaged cells to bond with others, propagating more issues. Vitamin C’s antioxidant properties have been shown to combat skin damage from the pollutant ozone.
Speeds up healing – Sufficient Vitamin C is essential for wound healing, and studies suggest that Vitamin C supplements can speed the healing process. Since the 1940s, scientists have experimented with a wide range of applications for healing. Luckily, if you experience a Vitamin C deficiency, these supplements can give you the boost you need.
By combating environmental damage as well as actively healing, Vitamin C is thought to play a vital role in preventing damage and pathogens from moving beyond the skin and into the body.
This is just one role that it plays in immunity.
The same properties that make Vitamin C a powerful healing tool make it a popular step in healthy skincare regimens. Because topical Vitamin C can prevent free radical damage, it may reduce signs of aging, like fine lines and wrinkles. Like many antioxidant-rich skincare products, ones with Vitamin C can promote brighter, glowing skin.
Vitamin C and White Blood Cells
Beyond the skin, Vitamin C may also play a role in the healthy functioning of immune system cells, including white blood cells. Scientists have studied several of Vitamin C’s pathways:
Forming T Cells – T Cells are white blood cells, or lymphocytes, produced in the thymus gland, making them a central part of immune response. A 2013 study suggests that Vitamin C plays a role in lymphocyte development. Jared Manning and his colleagues write that the results of their study “demonstrate an active role for ascorbic acid in the development of T-cells, likely through epigenetic modulation of gene expression.”
Improving neutrophil function – Neutrophils are another kind of white blood cell that affects immunity and contain high amounts of Vitamin C. In a 2015 study, scientists tested whether eating Vitamin C-rich kiwis improved neutrophil levels. They concluded that a simple kiwi supplement “may improve neutrophil function by increasing their ability to respond to chemotactic stimuli.”
Because Vitamin C improves white blood cell development and signaling, it is also thought to have anti-inflammatory properties.
While Vitamin C is one powerful vitamin for immunity, we believe in a holistic approach. If you’re looking for additional ways to support your immune system, learn how to boost your immune system with our guide.
Vitamin C for the Common Cold and Other Infections
Since adequate Vitamin C plays a role in immunity, it’s no surprise that it may help reduce the symptoms of common infections. Vitamin C supplement benefits are thought to include shorter recovery from symptoms of illness.
You’ve heard time and time again that there’s no cure for the common cold. While that’s still true, Vitamin C supplements may prevent and reduce cold symptoms. A 2013 meta-analysis of more than 30 studies concluded that:
- Sufficient Vitamin C intake reduced the duration of cold symptoms
- Athletes’ risk of cold symptoms was halved when they took a Vitamin C supplement
Beyond the common cold, Vitamin C may be able to help reduce the symptoms of other viral infections. Other clinical trials suggest that a Vitamin C supplement can lessen the severity of respiratory symptoms.
While more studies are needed to understand all of Vitamin C’s pathways and effects, early research suggests a range of additional benefits. According to Healthline, potential uses for Vitamin C include:
- Help maintain healthy blood pressure
- Reduce the risk of chronic disease
- Aid in maintaining healthy iron levels
- Improve memory
The known and potential Vitamin C benefits make it a must for wellness and vitality.
How to Get Vitamin C
Vitamin C is available in fruits and vegetables, but you never know how much Vitamin C is present in an individual plant, as a plant’s nutritional profile depends on the soil it’s grown in, as well as other factors.
To make sure you’re getting a consistent, high dose of Vitamin C, you want to take a dietary supplement to boost your immunity.
Plant People Immune Power Multiplex
Plant People’s new Immune Power Multiplex capsules contain over 100mg of Vitamin C. Each capsule combines the power of ascorbic acid with four immune-boosting mushrooms: reishi mushroom, turkey tail mushroom, maitake mushroom, and chaga mushroom. The blend of Vitamin C and these four beneficial mushrooms for immunity are also combined with the Traditional Chinese Medicine herb astragalus root. Together, these ingredients have the potential to improve your overall immune system function, and with it, your health.
It’s nearly effortless to add these vegan, 100% organic capsules to your daily routine and start experiencing the natural benefits of plants and fungi. If you’re curious about the benefits that mushrooms offer to this supplement, check out these incredible mushroom supplements benefits!
Helping You Become a Plant Person
At Plant People, our goal is to introduce individuals to the natural power of plants and fungi. Our premium CBD products come as CBD tinctures, supplements, or topicals and combine healing CBD with other adaptogenic herbs to support specific goals, from healthy sleep cycles to improved mood to a calmer mind. Our new Immune Power Multiplex draws on our experience with plant and fungi blends, combining four potent immune-boosting mushrooms with Vitamin C. 100% organic and sustainably sourced, Immune Power connects you with the full range of these ingredients’ beneficial effects.