The Health Benefits of Vitamin C in a Vegan Diet

Most commonly known for its immunity-boosting properties, Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant whose benefits reach far beyond immune support. Vitamin C plays a critical role in managing our bodies’ response to aging, energy production, and detoxification. 

While Vitamin C naturally occurs in many fruits and vegetables, Vitamin C deficiency is more common than you may think. Read on to understand the signs of Vitamin C deficiency and how to prevent it with a balanced diet.

What is Vitamin C? 

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant responsible for supporting many of our bodies’ ongoing functions. This water-soluble vitamin is one of the few nutrients that our bodies cannot store or produce, meaning all of our bodies’ Vitamin C content comes from the foods we eat and the supplements we take. Vitamin C is naturally occurring in many fruits and vegetables, with citrus fruits being one of the most common sources of Vitamin C. This potent antioxidant plays a key role in several of our bodies’ physiological processes.

Immune System Support 

While Vitamin C may not prevent you from catching the common cold, it can help to support a speedy recovery as well as decrease the length and intensity of cold symptoms. 

Among Vitamin C’s many functions in the body lie its healing properties. This includes healing outward wounds as well as recovering from sicknesses. Additionally, Vitamin C helps to support the immune system by stimulating white blood cell activity, and in turn, detecting and fighting off infections.

With cold and flu season right around the corner, make sure you’re getting an optimal amount of daily Vitamin C to support a healthy immune system and help you recover from seasonal bugs!

Chronic Disease Prevention

Studies have shown that higher levels of Vitamin C have a protective effect against cardiovascular disease, as well as certain cancers, and reduce the risks of heart attacks and strokes. 

By slowing down the process of atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the arteries, Vitamin C helps to protect the arteries against damage, keeps the arteries flexible, and allows your heart to function and pump blood throughout your body. Vitamin C also works to prevent damage by LDL cholesterol, which builds up as plaque in the arteries and can cause similar heart-related complications.

At the same time, a diet rich in Vitamin C has been linked to reduced risks of developing certain cancers, including skin, cervical, and breast cancer. As a powerful antioxidant, Vitamin C acts as a detoxifying agent in the body, reducing oxidative stress and breaking down environmental toxins called free radicals which have long been associated with cellular damage and an increased risk of developing certain diseases and cancers.

Healthy Aging

We all know that a balanced diet, rich in raw fruits and vegetables, helps to support our overall body health. But a diet packed with Vitamin C-rich foods helps to support the aging process across joint health and mobility, vision and eye health, and skin health. 

Joint Health and Mobility

Vitamin C has been shown to be one of the most promising antioxidants in supporting joint and mobility health. By stimulating the production of collagen and proteoglycan, Vitamin C prevents the breakdown of cartilage. With improved collagen and Vitamin C’s anti-inflammatory properties, regular intake of Vitamin C can help to alleviate many of the symptoms associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, making for more comfortable, flexible, and free movement throughout the day.

Vision and Eye Health

Scientific studies have shown that Vitamin C plays an important part in slowing the progression of and protecting against cataracts and macular degeneration — aiding in the preservation of healthy eyes and vision. With a daily intake of at least 500mg of Vitamin C, Vitamin C has been shown to reduce oxidative stress and maintain low levels of oxygen in the eye, reducing the risks of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.

Skin Health

As a popular ingredient in skin care products, Vitamin C has been shown to slow the signs of aging by improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and protecting the skin against long-term damage caused by harmful sun rays. As an anti-inflammatory ingredient, Vitamin C can help reduce redness of the skin, and is even used as a holistic acne treatment.

Are you getting enough Vitamin C in your diet?

The recommended daily intake of Vitamin C is 90mg for men and 75mg for women over the age of 19 years old. While Vitamin C is abundant in several fruits and vegetables, over 33 million Americans are deficient in Vitamin C. 

The widespread deficiency can largely be attributed to the Standard American Diet (SAD), which prioritizes highly processed, ultra-refined foods for the sake of convenience, rather than nutrition. Vitamin C is destroyed by heat and oxygen exposure and is highest in freshly picked produce and citrus fruits, which are commonly lacking in the SAD. .

Signs of Vitamin C deficiency

Some of the most common symptoms of Vitamin C deficiency include slow wound healing, gingivitis, joint pain, and easy bruising. Those who often fall sick may also be deficient, as Vitamin C deficiency can result in impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections.

How to prevent Vitamin C deficiency

Combatting Vitamin C deficiency is easier than you may think. Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes contain up to 96 mg of Vitamin C in one fruit — that’s more than your daily recommended intake with just one serving! While citruses are often the first to come to mind when we think of Vitamin C powerhouses, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables are abundant in this potent antioxidant. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and brussels sprouts are jam-packed with Vitamin C, containing 91mg and 85 mg of Vitamin C in each serving, respectively. A medium red bell pepper contains 152 mg of vitamin C, making it a great snack food and addition to many dishes.

In addition to the naturally occurring sources of Vitamin C, supplements can help support a balanced diet, especially when nutritious fruits and vegetables are out of season or unavailable. There’s a wide variety of Vitamin C supplements on the market, including tablets, powders, chewables, and gummies, but the most effective type of Vitamin C supplement is Liposomal Vitamin C. Liposomal Vitamin C delivers your daily dosage of Vitamin C in tiny nanosized lipid packets that bypass digestion so that delivery to the cells and organs of the body may rival or even surpass results of intravenous delivery. By supplementing Vitamin C daily, you can ensure you reap all of its health-boosting benefits and don’t have to worry about risking deficiency.

The importance of Vitamin C for vegans

From immune system support to chronic disease prevention and healthy aging, Vitamin C plays a vital role in supporting your body’s overall health. By maintaining a balanced, plant-based diet inclusive of Vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits, bell peppers, and cruciferous vegetables, and supporting your health with supplements, you can enjoy many of the incredible health benefits Vitamin C has to offer!

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