Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin.
It dissolves in water and is delivered to the body’s tissues but is not well stored, so it must be taken daily through food or supplements.
Vitamin C plays a role in controlling infections and healing wounds and is a powerful antioxidant that can neutralize harmful free radicals.
The vitamin helps make several hormones and chemical messengers used in the brain and nerves.
Recent studies have found multiple health benefits of vitamin C.
In one study at the University of East Anglia, researchers found that older people who eat plenty of vitamin C — commonly found in citrus fruits, berries, and vegetables — have the best skeletal muscle mass.
They used data from more than 13,000 people aged between 42-82 years.
They calculated these people’s skeletal muscle mass and analyzed their vitamin C intakes from a seven-day food diary. They also examined the amount of vitamin C in their blood.
The team found that people with the highest amounts of vitamin C in their diet or blood had the greatest estimated skeletal muscle mass, compared to those with the lowest amounts.
The finding suggests that dietary vitamin C is important for muscle health in older men and women and may be useful for preventing age-related muscle loss.
The team says this is important because people tend to lose skeletal muscle mass as they get older — leading to sarcopenia (a condition characterized by loss of skeletal muscle mass and function), frailty, and reduced quality of life.
The study was published in The Journal of Nutrition and conducted by Lucy N Lewis et al.
In another study from Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, scientists found high vitamin C concentrations in the blood from eating fruit and vegetables are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and early death.
They used data about 100,000 Danes and their intake of fruit and vegetables, as well as their DNA.
The team found that those with the highest intake of fruit and vegetables have a 15 percent lower risk of developing heart disease and a 20 percent lower risk of early death compared with those who very rarely eat fruit and vegetables.
The researchers say that vitamin C helps build connective tissue which supports and connects different types of tissues and organs in the body.
Vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant that protects cells and biological molecules from the damage that causes many diseases, including heart disease.
The research was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and conducted by Camilla Kobylecki et al.
Researchers also found that vitamin C could help reduce anxiety.
Vitamin C is a well-known antioxidant that is involved in anxiety, stress, depression, fatigue, and mood state in humans. Previous studies have found that oxidative stress may trigger neuropsychological disorders.
Antioxidants may play an important role in combating the damage caused by oxidative stress in individuals that suffer from anxiety.
In the study, the team examined the effects of oral vitamin C supplements on 42 students. The students were given either vitamin C (500 mg per day(-1)) or a placebo.
They found that vitamin C reduced anxiety levels and led to higher blood vitamin C concentration compared to the placebo.
The mean heart rates were also very different between the vitamin C group and the placebo control group.
The team says the results not only provide evidence that vitamin C plays an important therapeutic role for anxiety but also point to the possible use of antioxidants in the prevention or reduction of anxiety.
This suggests that a diet rich in vitamin C may be an effective adjunct to medical and psychological treatment of anxiety and improve academic performance.
The research was published in Pak J Biol Sci and done by Sérgio Leme Da-Silva et al.
In a recent study from Flinders University, researchers found cognitive impairment among older hospitalized people could be the result of low vitamin C levels.
Previous research has shown that vitamin C plays a big role in the functioning of the brain, with studies finding that vitamin C deficiency may be linked to cognitive impairment, depression, and confusion.
In the study, the team looked at 160 patients aged over 75. They assessed their cognitive function and vitamin C levels.
A total of 91 patients (56.9%) were found to have a cognitive impairment, while 42 (26.3%) were found to be vitamin C deficient with a level below 11 micromol/L, below which point scurvy could develop.
The team showed that cognitive function scores were much lower among patients who were vitamin C deficient.
Further analysis showed that vitamin C deficiency was almost three times more likely to be associated with cognitive impairment after adjustment for other factors.
The team says vitamin C deficiency is common among older hospitalized patients, medical professionals need to remain vigilant about this condition and confirm a patient’s vitamin C status in suspected cases.
The study was published in Antioxidants and was conducted by Associate Professor Yogesh Sharma et al.
In another recent study from the USC Longevity Institute and elsewhere, researchers found that vitamin C combined with a fasting-mimicking diet may help fight against some hard-to-treat cancers.
They found that the combination delayed tumor progression in colorectal cancer.
The fasting-mimicking diet is a specific meal plan formulated to simulate the fasting state while providing nutrients and calories.
Prior findings on the cancer-fighting potential of vitamin C have been mixed.
In this study, researchers aimed to find out whether a fasting-mimicking diet could enhance the high-dose vitamin C tumor-fighting effects.
Their experiment showed remarkable effects. When used alone, a fasting-mimicking diet or vitamin C alone reduced cancer cell growth and caused a minor increase in cancer cell death.
But when used together, they had a dramatic effect, killing almost all cancerous cells.
The team detected this strong effect only in cancer cells that had a mutation that is regarded as one of the most challenging targets in cancer research.
The study also provided clues about why previous studies of vitamin C as a potential anticancer therapy showed limited efficacy.
The team says the study took two treatments that are studied extensively as interventions to delay aging — a fasting-mimicking diet and vitamin C — and combined them as a powerful treatment for cancer.
Their findings suggest that a low-toxicity treatment with a fasting-mimicking diet plus vitamin C has the potential to replace more toxic treatments.
The research was published in Nature Communications and conducted by Valter Longo et al.
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