“Vitamin C plays an essential role in maintaining good health,” says Balz Frei, PhD, a leading vitamin C researcher and director of the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University in Corvallis. “It’s required for life.” Why? Your cells need vitamin C to do their jobs properly, plus it has antioxidant properties to protect them from damage. Unfortunately, our bodies don’t produce it, so grab a glass of orange juice and read more about the benefits of vitamin C.
It Helps You Lose Weight
You burn 30 percent more fat during a bout of moderate exercise when you have adequate levels of vitamin C compared to someone who has low levels of the vitamin, according to the Journal of theAmerican College of Nutrition. The theory? Vitamin C aids in the pathways that regulate fat oxidation, energy expenditure, and energy intake—all things that help with weight loss. When levels are sufficient, your body can do its job more efficiently.
It Reduces Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Epidemiological and observational studies have found associations with vitamin C and lower risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and lower incidences of stroke. “Vitamin C improves blood cell function and enhances vascular relaxation,” Frei says. This allows blood to move more freely, which reduces the risk of heart problems.
It Protects Your Skin from Sun Damage
Vitamin C might lower your risk of melanoma, suggests an observational study in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research. Frei cautions that we don’t have a clear understanding about how vitamin C behaves in the skin. But we do know that aging and UV rays lessen the amount of the nutrient in it. Vitamin C also protects against sun spots when applied topically.
It Reduces Inflammation
Inflammation is your body’s reaction to stress, pollution, and even today’s workout—and it creates cell-damaging free radicals. Vitamin C fights these free radicals, helping your body heal from the inflammation that it endures each day.
It May Lessen Cold Duration
When it comes to fighting colds, our moms told us to get our vitamin C. But it turns out that cold-fighting is one of vitamin C’s most controversial benefits. According to Frei, the evidence on vitamin C’s ability to fight a cold is inconsistent. Still, vitamin C is just one of the numerous vitamins that our immune system needs to function optimally, he says. And there is one thing we know: A stronger immune system means fewer sick days.
It Fights Cancer
One of the most exciting vitamin C benefits is its possible cancer-fighting effects. Studies out of the National Institutes of Health have found that intravenous infusion of vitamin C may enhance chemotherapy’s effect on cancer cells, especially in pancreatic cancer. This therapy is in Phase II clinical trials, so it may not be long before it is standard practice in fighting this disease that affects an estimated 1.6 million Americans. Other research has found that intravenous infusion of vitamin C improves the quality of life for cancer patients.