What are the real benefits of vitamin C?
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a potent antioxidant which is essential to the normal functioning of our immune system . It boosts our immune system and helps us fight a cold by encouraging the production of white blood cells, lymphocytes, and phagocytes, which are key players in fighting infection. It also helps with red blood cell production and the growth and repair of all connective tissue. Higher blood levels of vitamin C have been linked to a wide range of benefits such as a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, as well as increased vitality and longevity. It contributes to longevity by boosting collagen synthesis and reducing the risk of joint injury with age. Collagen synthesis is important for both strengthening tendons and ligaments, as well as reducing wrinkles in our skin.
How do my genes influence how much vitamin C I need?
While vitamin C’s benefits are available to everyone, some people need to consume more vitamin C-rich foods in order to achieve the health-protecting levels in the blood. Vitamin C intake requirements vary from person to person and are partially related to genetics. SLC23A1 and SLC23A2 are two vitamin C transporter genes responsible for absorption of the vitamin in the gut. Certain variants of these genes have actually been shown to decrease the efficiency with which the body can absorb vitamin C. Thus individuals with these inhibitory genetic variants would benefit from an increased nutritional intake of vitamin C.
Due to its water-soluble nature, vitamin C cannot be stored in the body and excess amounts are usually secreted within 24 hours of intake. This makes it necessary to include foods rich in vitamin C in our daily diet.
6 fruits high in vitamin C: Kiwi, oranges, guava, pineapples, strawberries, grapefruit
6 vegetables high in vitamin C: Kale, broccoli, parsley, brussel sprouts, red and green peppers, peas
Woman over 18 years of age: 75 mg/d
Men over 18 years of age: 90 mg/d
Vitamin C and Iron
Another one of vitamin C’s benefits is its ability to aid in the absorption of iron. This is especially important for women, since they have a higher daily requirement for this mineral [8.1 compared to the 6 mg/day needed by men]. Iron is a component of hemoglobin, a multimeric protein in our red blood cells that grabs oxygen and carries it through our body. Iron is what actually binds the oxygen molecules, making it hugely important in our body. A lack of enough hemoglobin, and thus iron, results in a condition known as anemia, with symptoms such as fatigue and shortness of breath. Vitamin C aids in iron absorption by limiting the formation of an insoluble form of dietary iron and transforming it into an absorbable form. 
If your Vitamin Reports show a predisposition for Iron Deficiency, consider increasing your intake of vitamin C alongside iron intake!
Keep in mind:
- Natural sources of vitamins are almost always better than supplements, as they are easier to absorb. [Hence the need for supplements to contain 1000% of Daily Value.]
- Fruits and vegetables differ greatly in the density of vitamins and minerals. For example, parsley may contain 133% DV of vitamin C per cup, but no one is trying to eat that much parsley in a single sitting. When planning to meet your daily requirements, always consider serving size.
- The amount of vitamin C that is available for absorption can also depend on whether the foods are raw or cooked, so variety is key!