Not only is vitamin C essential for your health, but also some of the most delicious foods are great sources of vitamin C. Citrus fruits (such as oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, lemons, and limes) are perhaps the most well known sources of vitamin C, but this important vitamin is also found in a great variety of fruits and vegetables: bell peppers, kiwis, broccoli, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, spinach, etc. As you grow older, check that you’re consuming plenty of produce because vitamin C and aging well are related. Vitamin C can impact the health of your skin, brain, eyes, and more.
Vitamin C and Aging
If you needed another reason to fill your shopping cart with oranges and clementines, keep in mind the connection between vitamin C and aging. Vitamin C affects all of the following:
Did you know vitamin C is the most common antioxidant found in skin? It assists with the synthesis of collagen and helps protect the skin against UV rays and air pollution, counteracting UV free radical stress. Those hoping to keep their skin looking youthful will appreciate that vitamin C can prevent some signs of aging as well.
Although the brain contains a concentration of vitamin C, researchers don’t know for sure how vitamin C impacts cognitive function in humans. We do know, however, that higher plasma vitamin C concentrations are associated with better cognitive function and a lower risk of cognitive decline. A large body of evidence suggests that healthy vitamin C levels can provide protection against age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease (source).
According to a study conducted in Great Britain, Vitamin C may reduce your risk of inflammatory arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis. Too much vitamin C may trigger osteoporosis, however, so it’s important to maintain a happy medium (source).
According to the American Optometric Association, evidence suggests that vitamin C lowers a person’s risk of developing cataracts. It also slows the progression of age-related macular degeneration and visual acuity loss.
If you have any interest in the history of sailors or pirates, you likely already know about scurvy, a disease that results from a lack of vitamin C. Scurvy is incredibly rare these days, but it killed many people in the past (especially those attempting long-distance sea travel) because they lacked fresh fruits and vegetables. Characterized by weakness, fatigue, sore limbs, and gum disease, scurvy caused the death of an estimated two million sailors between 1500 and 1800! Physicians didn’t know that vitamin C was the remedy until James Lind conducted a study of sailors in 1747. Although scurvy isn’t common these days, it does affect some people who neglect their diets, including children and seniors. So even if you’re not sailing the Seven Seas, be sure to eat a well-rounded diet.
Because our bodies cannot make or store vitamin C, we must consume it within our diets. According to the FDA, men should get 90 mg of vitamin C per day and women should get 75 mg. Since almost all the cells in our bodies depend on vitamin C, it’s crucial that you consume a sufficient amount. Luckily, that’s not very hard to do!
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