Vitamin C – A Daily Essential

Vitamin C – A Daily Essential

Vitamin C is an often-underestimated vitamin because it is considered easily accessible in the diet and inexpensive as a supplement. However, did you know that not all vitamin C is equal and that taking a standard vitamin C supplement does not necessarily mean you are absorbing it?

But let’s rewind and take a look at why vitamin C is important and why you just might want to ensure you’re getting enough on a daily basis!

Immune system1,2

Vitamin C is important for healthy immune system function as it plays a role in immune defence and influences B and T-cells. As an antioxidant, vitamin C also decreases free radicals produced by the immune system in response to infections.

Collagen production, connective tissue and cartilage health3-8

Vitamin C is essential for the production and maintenance of collagen, a structural protein found in skin, tendons, cartilage, bones, gums, teeth and blood vessels.

Vitamin C helps maintain connective tissue integrity and is involved in the production of substances important for connective tissue health such as elastin, proteoglycans and bone matrix.

Wound healing and skin repair3-8

Vitamin C is also required for healthy wound healing and skin repair. Vitamin C provides tensile strength to newly formed collagen to allow the tissue to stretch without tearing. Deficiency may impair the wound-healing process.

Despite these many benefits, there is a surprisingly high population in Australia that are considered deficient in vitamin C. According to a large observational study (n-5000 over 5 years), 24.5% of the participants had significant deficiency whilst 29.9% had poor vitamin C status. The lower vitamin C status was also found to be more prevalent in men, older populations and those with a socio-economic disadvantage. The reasons why were not explored however we do know that certain life situations give rise to a higher risk of vitamin C depletion.9

These lifestyle choices include smoking, high exposure to environmental toxins and pollution, regular low intake of vitamin C rich foods, high amounts of exercise, high alcohol intake and some pharmaceuticals e.g. aspirin, diuretics and corticosteroids.2-4,10-15 Vitamin C is found as ascorbic acid in fruits and vegetables. Good sources include blackcurrants, guava, citrus, kiwi, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, capsicum, papaya, potatoes, brussels sprouts, asparagus and cauliflower. It is important to note that vitamin C is one of the least stable vitamins and can be sensitive to light, heat, oxygen, alkali, transport, cooking and processing.3-5,15

If dietary intake of ascorbic acid is inadequate or affected via processing, then a supplement may be beneficial. The body can neither synthesise nor store vitamin C, so it must be replenished every day to avoid low levels or deficiency.16 Standard forms of vitamin C in supplements can be difficult for the body to absorb, which can limit their physiological availability. Low vitamin C status can potentially lead to variety of health conditions if left unchecked.16,17 A vitamin C product that includes a specialised delivery system that improves uptake by encasing it in a protective liposome, eliminates this absorption problem. This allows vitamin C to remain intact during digestion and ensures rapid, efficient uptake into cells.17