Health Benefits of Vitamin C
- Alleviation of Cardiovascular Disease and High Blood Pressure - Several studies support that consuming at least 500 mg a day of vitamin C can increase the amount blood vessels relax, or dilate, in a process known as vasodilation. This process is thought to help lower blood pressure, reducing risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases.
- Increased Immune Function - Vitamin C has a reputation for boosting immune function and possibly preventing incidence of the common cold. Repeated studies have show this is not true for the general population and the effect of vitamin C reducing the incidence of cold is mostly seen in those with a vitamin C deficiency, and in athletes under intense physical strain.
- Increased Iron Absorption - Vitamin C increases iron absorption, however, this should be noted with care, as too much vitamin C can lead to iron toxicity in certain individuals.
People at Risk of a Vitamin C Deficiency
- Smokers and Passive Smokers - Studies show that smokers have lower levels of vitamin C in their blood than non-smokers, and this is thought to be due to increased oxidative stress. Similarly, those regularly exposed to passive smoke have lower levels of vitamin C in their blood. People in these groups are advised to consume more vitamin C, up to 35 mg (50%) more than non-smokers.
- Infants given boiled or evaporated milk - Boiling or evaporating milk destroys any vitamin C it provides leaving infants deficient. However, most infant formulas come already fortified with vitamin C, check nutrition facts of a specific product to be sure.
- People without varied diets - Vitamin C is found mainly in fresh fruits and vegetables. People who do not eat these foods or who do not vary their diet greatly are at risk of vitamin C deficiency.
- People with mal-absorption or chronic diseases - People with mal-absorption diseases, like cachexia, are at increased risk of vitamin C deficiency. Other high risk groups include those with cancer, end-stage renal disease (kidney failure), or chronic hemo-dialysis.