Nutrition

You Need Vitamin C. Here’s Why.

Boost your immune system—and your overall health—with this vital vitamin

It may not cure the common cold (aw, shucks!), but vitamin C is still important. In fact, this vital antioxidant may provide protection against cardiovascular disease, immune system deficiencies and eye disease, as well as help the body repair wounds faster.

Here’s what recent research shows about this vitamin:

  • One analysis showed vitamin C helped boost a stress-weakened immune system. Because it is one of the nutrients sensitive to stress, it is the first one to be depleted in obese individuals, alcoholics and smokers.
  • Vitamin C ensures proper dilation of blood vessels, which can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and congestive heart failure.
  • Vitamin C lowers levels of lead in the blood. This is especially important for people living in older houses and apartment buildings that may have been painted using lead paint. In children, lead toxicity can cause behavioral issues and developmental problems; in adults, it can cause kidney damage.
  • Responsible for creating collagen, vitamin C gives skin its elasticity.
  • A higher intake of vitamin C helps fight cataracts by increasing the amount of blood flow to the eye.
  • Some studies show vitamin C can have mood-elevating effects.

Despite its many benefits, dietary intake data shows most adults—especially black men and smokers—don’t get enough in their diets.

Related:
Are You Getting Enough Protein?

Work more into your diet each day by:

  • drinking a glass of tomato juice for a low-calorie snack
  • tossing a handful of fresh or frozen strawberries on your cereal
  • eating raw veggies, including broccoli, tomatoes, green peppers and cauliflower, with low-fat dips, salsa or hummus
  • serving fresh, sliced pineapple or cut-up papaya as dessert (Bonus: Pineapple contains bromelain, a digestive enzyme that acts as an anti-inflammatory, crucial to bouncing back after a tough workout.)
  • including leafy dark greens on all of your sandwiches and wraps
  • adding pureed sweet potatoes to your soups
  • grabbing an orange to satisfy those late-night munchies

One thing to note: You can’t overdose on this vital vitamin. Our bodies excrete excess amounts. But taking more than 2,000 milligrams a day could upset your stomach or cause diarrhea.

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