The Negative Effects of Sugar on Vitamin C Intake

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From an early age, we learn that Vitamin C helps support the body’s immune system by supporting the activities of antimicrobial and natural killer cells and protecting those cells from the harmful effects of oxidative stress. Although many people reach for fruit juices rich in Vitamin C, this can be counterproductive because they also contain large amounts of sugar.

Studies have found that excessive amounts of sugar, or glucose, in the body can inhibit the absorption of Vitamin C. In the 1970s, researchers established that sugar and Vitamin C have a similar structure and enter cells using the same pathway. This makes sense because most animals use glucose to manufacture Vitamin C in their bodies. However, humans do not have the L-gulonolactone oxidase enzyme needed to synthesize Vitamin C. Instead, we must get the nutrient through foods or Vitamin C supplements.

Both Vitamin C and glucose can enter cells using a critical protein known as the Glut-1 receptor.  The Glut-1 receptor has a preference for glucose, which means it will choose sugar over Vitamin C when given the opportunity. This poses a particular challenge for white blood cells, which need as much as 50 times more Vitamin C within their cell walls than in the surrounding blood plasma to effectively combat the effects of oxidative stress.

So, instead of reaching for fruit juice or other high-sugar drinks as your source of Vitamin C, try eating vegetables that contain high amounts of Vitamin C, such as spinach, peas and broccoli. It could also be helpful to take Vitamin C supplements.

The Role of Vitamin C in Copper and Iron Absorption

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), iron deficiency is considered the most common and widespread nutritional issue in the world. More iron is absorbed when iron stores are low, while less is absorbed if the body’s stores are appropriate. Dietary iron is in the form of either heme iron or nonheme iron. Although the iron found in meat (heme iron) is easily absorbed, the iron in plant-based foods and eggs (non-heme iron) is absorbed differently, as it  depends on the presence of other nutrients.

The non-heme iron in vegetables, egg yolks, fruits, grains, iron-fortified products, nuts, and seeds is absorbed less efficiently than the heme iron found in poultry, fish, and meat. Fortunately, Vitamin C assists the body in absorbing more non-heme iron from these sources, thereby improving the body’s ability to utilize more iron from these sources than it could otherwise. Vitamin C can also help overcome some of the negative effects of phytonutrients such as phytic acid, tannins, polyphenols, and oxalic acid, which can interfere with non-heme iron absorption. Vitamin C can be obtained from supplements or from dietary sources such as broccoli, oranges, kiwi, tomatoes, bell peppers, mangoes, and strawberries.

Copper is essential to several processes within the body, including iron metabolism.  There are four copper-containing enzymes – called multi-copper oxidases (MCO) – that can change ferrous iron to ferric iron, the form or iron needed for red blood cell formation.  These enzymes make up the ceruloplasmin levels in the body.

Although Vitamin C supplements have been found to contribute to copper deficiency in animals, Vitamin C’s effect on the nutritional status of copper in humans is still being studied. Two minor studies on healthy young men indicated the oxidase activity of ceruloplasmin may be lowered by higher doses of Vitamin C supplements. One of the studies found that a total of 1,500mg of Vitamin C taken each day for two months resulted in lower ceruloplasmin activity. The other study indicated that 605 mg of Vitamin C supplements per day for 3 weeks created a decline in ceruloplasmin oxidase activity but did not cause copper absorption to decline. Neither of the studies determined supplementing with Vitamin C negatively affects copper nutritional status.

  1. Hickey S., Roberts H, Miller N, (2008), “Pharmacokinetics of oral vitamin C” Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine July 31.

Vitamin C and Cellular Energy Production

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Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient that the human body requires for a wide range of functions. Vitamin C, taken in the diet or in vitamin C supplements, promotes wound healing, supports the immune system and is required for proper function of the brain cells. In addition, research indicates vitamin C affects energy production in the body’s cells.

The human body is an electrical system. Body cells use chemical messengers to communicate and control various functions such as growth, repair and the production of important enzymes and hormones. Individual cells have what is known as electrical potential. Each cell is surrounded by a thin membrane that allows ions of minerals like sodium and potassium to cross back and forth based on the concentrations on each side of the membrane. The mitochondria – structures inside the cells – are like tiny powerhouses that regulate energy production. Basically, each cell is a battery that can produce or accept an electrical charge depending on the concentrations of its ions. When vitamin C becomes depleted in the cells, the electrical potential of the cells drops.

Having adequate amounts of vitamin C in the body is critical for health at the cellular level. Humans need at least 40 to 120 milligrams of vitamin C every day and many scientists think higher doses are beneficial. Foods like peppers and citrus supply vitamin C, as do vitamin C supplements.

Vitamin C’s Role in Brain Health

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Most people are aware that vitamin C is an important part of a healthy diet and that humans need a regular dose since the body can’t store this vitamin. Vitamin C supports tissue healing and natural collagen production. What is less well-known is the importance of vitamin C to brain health.

Vitamin C – also known as ascorbate – is an antioxidant. It can be obtained from foods like citrus fruits and peppers or through vitamin C supplements. Although the whole body uses vitamin C in various functions, it is of critical importance in the brain. Researchers have found that the body’s highest concentrations of vitamin C are found in the brain and other neuroendocrine tissue. It is also very difficult for the brain to become depleted of ascorbate, suggesting that it is critical for proper brain function. In addition, when vitamin C deficiency (scurvy) occurs, the body holds onto ascorbate in the brain tissue when other tissues become depleted.

Among other functions, vitamin C is used by the brain to produce neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers the brain cells use to communicate. Neurotransmitters affect the body’s emotions and control important chemical processes such as the “fight or flight” response to stress and danger. Scientists have discovered, for example, that the nerve cells of the eye – the retina is part of the nervous system – must be bathed in ascorbate in order to function properly. The retina contains special cells called GABA receptors, that help control communication between brain cells. Current findings indicate vitamin C is critical for these receptors to function properly; in the absence of vitamin C, the receptors stop working.

The implications of these findings support the long-standing advice from nutritionists and doctors for people to eat or take vitamins C in some form every day. Vitamin C-rich foods include chile and bell peppers, kale, papaya, strawberries, cauliflower and, of course, oranges. Vitamin C supplements are also readily available in various forms.

Vitamin Deficiencies Can Cause Bruising

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Everyone suffers bruises from time to time, usually as the result of some sort of blunt-force trauma. Normally, it’s not a serious problem, but excessive bruising can sometimes indicate an underlying issue such as thin skin, weak capillaries or insufficient collagen levels. These conditions may be linked to vitamin deficiencies.

Bruises typically occur when someone bumps into something. The trauma damages capillaries beneath the skin, causing a tiny amount of blood to seep out and leave a darkened area. The older a person gets, the more they tend to bruise. This is because the skin gets thinner and loses a protective layer of fat as people age. Certain medications, such as blood thinners, can also cause people to bruise more. However, another common culprit is Vitamin C deficiency.

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for the body. It supports the immune system, works as a powerful antioxidant and is necessary for the natural production of collagen. Collagen is a structural protein that aids in the maintenance and repair of blood vessel walls and other connective tissue. When a person does not get enough Vitamin C, their body can bruise more easily. They may also experience joint pain, a weakened immune response and slower healing of wounds.

If a person develops a severe Vitamin C deficiency, known as scurvy, they can also suffer from bleeding gums, the loss of teeth and hair and the degeneration of blood vessels. This condition is relatively rare in the modern U.S., especially given the wide availability of Vitamin C in the diet and  Vitamin C supplements, but it does still occur in some individuals with poor nutritional habits. In order to prevent these health problems, health experts recommend that adults consume at least 60 – 90mg of Vitamin C each day.

In addition to Vitamin C deficiency, insufficient levels of Vitamin K and Vitamin D may also lead to excessive bruising, as they are both essential to the blood coagulation process. Meanwhile, Vitamin B9 and B12 deficiencies can also cause blood vessel damage and increased bruising. While a healthy diet is important for the prevention of vitamin deficiencies, the use of Vitamin C supplements and other supplemental nutrients can give the body an extra layer of protection.

Vitamins: Their Functions and Benefits

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Vitamin A – Necessary for good vision, keeps skin and tissues healthy, and acts as an antioxidant.

THIAMIN (vitamin B1) – Assists the body in converting food into energy, helps keep skin, hair, and nails healthy, and is vital for nerve function.

RIBOFLAVIN (vitamin B2)- Helps the body convert food into energy and helps keep hair, blood, the brain, and skin healthy.

NIACIN (vitamin B3, nicotinic acid) – Helps the body convert food into energy and helps keep hair, blood, the brain, and skin healthy.

PANTOTHENIC ACID (vitamin B5) – Helps the body convert food into energy and also helps make steroid hormones, hemoglobin, and lipids.

PYRIDOXINE Vitamin B6 – Helps produce red blood cells, influence cognitive function and the immune system, and aids in decreasing homocysteine levels.

COBALAMIN (vitamin B12) – Supports healthy nerve cells and helps make DNA, blood cells, and new cells.

BIOTIN – Helps turn food into energy, utilize glucose, break down certain fatty acids, and promote healthy hair and bones.

ASCORBIC ACID (vitamin C) – Acts as an antioxidant, helps make collagen, and supports the immune system.

CHOLINE – Supports brain and nerve activities and helps metabolize and transport fats.

CALCIFEROL (vitamin D) – Plays a role in maintaining normal blood levels of phosphorus and calcium to support strong bones.

ALPHA-TOCOPHEROL (vitamin E) – Functions as an antioxidant to help protect the body against free radicals.

FOLIC Acid – Essential for the creation of new cells, helps prevent birth defects when consumed early on in pregnancy, and can decrease homocysteine levels in the body.

PHYLLOQUINONE, MENADIONE (vitamin K) – Supports healthy blood clotting function.

CALCIUM – Helps build and protect teeth and bones and supports blood clotting, muscle contractions, muscle relaxation, and nerve impulse transmission.

CHLORIDE – Vital component of digestion and helps balance fluids in the body.

CHROMIUM – Enhances insulin’s activity and helps promote normal blood glucose levels.

COPPER- Helps make red blood cells, impacts iron metabolism, supports the immune system.

IODINE – Important for thyroid function, which impacts the entire body.

IRON – Necessary for making collagen, neurotransmitters, hormones, and amino acids. Also helps hemoglobin transport oxygen in the body.

MAGNESIUM – Needed for hundreds of reactions in the body.

MANGANESE – Helps bones develop and helps metabolize carbohydrates, cholesterol, and amino acids.

PHOSPHORUS – Helps build and maintain healthy teeth and bones and converts food into energy.

POTASSIUM – Plays a role in fluid balance, sends nerve impulses, and is necessary for muscle contractions.

SELENIUM – Acts as an antioxidant and helps regulate thyroid hormone activity.

SODIUM – Helps balance fluids in the body, impact blood pressure, send nerve impulses, and affect muscle contractions.

SULFUR – Helps build bridges that stabilize and shape protein structures. Also helps support healthy skin, nails, and hair.

ZINC – Helps create new cells and is necessary for immune function, smell, wound healing, and taste.

What are the effects of Vitamin C on the liver?

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The liver is the largest solid organ in the human body, and it performs over 400 important functions. For example, it manufactures and secretes bile, which helps with the absorption of vitamins and fats, and it creates blood proteins, cholesterol and immune factors. It also acts as a detoxifying filter, protecting the body from toxins introduced through the consumption of alcohol and certain drugs.

In order to perform its essential responsibilities, the liver needs the support of certain nutrients, including Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant that can protect against the harmful effects of free radicals that build up in the body. This benefit is particularly helpful to the liver, as it is constantly working to clear the body of harmful substances. To give the liver the support it needs, some health experts advocate consuming elevated doses of Vitamin C.

The body cannot make Vitamin C on its own, so it depends on diet and Vitamin C supplements to get what it needs. Vitamin C-rich foods include oranges and other citrus fruits, strawberries, red cabbage, cantaloupe, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, red and green peppers, kiwi and tomato juice. However, Vitamin C supplements can also help support a healthy liver.

Vitamin C is generally considered very safe at high doses, but exceeding 2,000mg per day may cause nausea and digestive upset in certain individuals. High doses may also interfere with some medications, including drugs used to treat diabetes, cancer and HIV. It is best to consult a physician before taking high doses of Vitamin C or any other nutrient.

Staying Well Through Winter with the Help of Vitamin C

With winter approaching, the majority of us modify our skincare routines, what we wear, and even what we eat in response to the colder, drier air. Including Vitamin C supplement in your winter routine may help prepare your immune system for the season.  

Vitamin C and Its Relationship to Winter

  • Vitamin C, also known as L-Ascorbic Acid, is the most well-known antioxidant and Vitamin C supplements are the most commonly used supplement.
  • During the winter months, Vitamin C rich fruits are typically out of season. This can make supplements especially helpful for reaching the required daily dose.
  • Since it functions as an antioxidant, C is a well-known supporter of a healthy immune system.
  • The minimum recommended dose of this antioxidant is 60mg per day. It is crucial to ensure you are getting this amount through food or supplements.
  • In addition to Vitamin C, Iron and Vitamin B can also be helpful for staying healthy in the winter months.

Final Thoughts

Instead of crossing your fingers that you stay healthy this winter, make sure you reach the dietary requirements for Vitamin C each day either through food or supplements.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Vitamin C and Workout Recovery

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Whether you’re brand new to working out, or a veteran fitness buff, muscle recovery is a key factor in avoiding injury. Did you know that Vitamin C has been proven to aid in workout recovery? Here are a few ways this powerhouse vitamin can keep you from getting sidelined.

1) It Packs an Antioxidant Punch

Antioxidants are nutrients that block damage created by free radicals. Not only can free radicals speed the aging process of our skin, but they can also speed the rate at which our muscles break down. Adding Vitamin C to your health regimen will boost your defense against free radicals and protect your muscles after a hard workout.

2) It Fights Inflammation

Vitamin C helps boost our metabolism. Great for losing weight, but also helpful in blocking proteins that are actually harmful to our bodies. The synthesis of certain proteins can increase the risk of inflammation and infection. The more inflammation, the greater the risk of muscle injury. By blocking the chemical reactions in your body that can lead to inflammation, you’ll experience less muscle soreness and be less likely to experience an injury.

3) It Supports Healthy Immunity

After putting your body through a workout, all of your internal systems are working hard on recovery. During this time, you may experience a temporary dip in your immunity levels. Vitamin C helps support your immune system as a powerful antioxidant.

4) It Helps Reduce Cortisol

Cortisol is a stress hormone that increases during times that our bodies are under stress or extreme exertion. We store excess cortisol, and it can lead to an increase in fat around our midsections. Vitamin C helps lower cortisol levels after a workout, preventing the storage of excess levels and that pesky abdominal fat.

Increasing your Vitamin C intake is a simple way to help your body recover from your workout and prepare you for your next one.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Your Heart Health and Vitamin C

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Vitamin C, also referred to as ascorbic acid, is one of the most well-known antioxidants. Linus Pauling, a two-time Nobel Prize winner, pioneered the majority of research surrounding this powerful vitamin and its numerous health benefits.

More research has been conducted on this antioxidant than almost any other nutrient. For starters, it has been shown to help prolong the onset of cataracts by a decade. It also plays a crucial role in joint, bone, and immune health. Arguably, one of its most important roles is supporting heart health.

Vitamin C and Heart Health

Ascorbic acid provides the heart with a variety of benefits:

  • It enhances the level of natural glutathione in the body and thereby helps prevent coronary artery disease.
  • As a potent scavenger of free radicals, it helps protect arteries.
  • It helps strengthen blood vessels walls by supporting the synthesis of collagen. If collagen is weak, oxidized LDL, heavy metals, and toxins create inflammation in the vascular lining. This is how atherosclerotic plaque begins to form.
  • Vitamin C helps improve vasodilation, the ability of arteries in the heart to widen to accommodate more blood when needed – this is one of the main factors in decreasing the risk of heart disease. It improves vasodilation by increasing Nitric Oxide’s availability. Nitric Oxide is a promoter of vasodilation.

What Does the Research Say?

recent meta-analysis analyzed the effect of antioxidant supplements on arterial stiffness. The results indicated that antioxidant supplements played a significant role in helping to reduce arterial stiffness. However, decreased arterial stiffness was only observed in studies that used ascorbic acid combined with other antioxidants, such as Vitamin E. Additionally, antioxidant supplementation was the most effective in patients that already had low concentrations of Vitamins E and C in their plasma.

How to Obtain It

Vitamin C is classified as an “essential nutrient”. This means it is not manufactured by our body and must be consumed in foods or supplements. Foods rich in this antioxidant include tomatoes, citrus fruits, broccoli, strawberries, watermelon, and kiwis. Vitamin C supplements are another very effective method in meeting your daily requirements for this key vitamin.

 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.