Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin. It could be called the hub of the antioxidant network because it is the link connecting the fat-soluble antioxidants to the water-soluble ones.
One of the main benefits of Vitamin C to the antioxidant network includes the important job of recharging fat-soluble vitamin E and beta-carotene when they become oxidized by free radicals. This is yet another example of the network antioxidants working together to produce results that are much greater than any one of them working alone could accomplish.
Vitamin C in the body. Vitamin C is very similar in molecular structure to glucose, the simple sugar in your bloodstream that is used to make fuel for your body. This gives it a distinct advantage over the other network antioxidants, as we shall see.
Because your body needs energy all the time, the glucose that is needed for fuel is readily absorbed up by your cells. When vitamin C neutralizes a free radical and needs to be rejuvenated, it needs to get into a cell — and so it hitches a ride with the glucose in your bloodstream. Once inside the cell, the oxidized vitamin C is recycled into antioxidant vitamin C and is returned to your bloodstream to once again provide antioxidant protection there.
Vitamin C inside the cell. Another of the benefits of vitamin C, once it penetrates the cell membrane, is that it while its swimming around in there, it also working to protect your mitochondria from free radical attacks. This means that your mitochondria is left free to do its primary job of providing your cells with energy, which means that you have more energy, too.
The benefits of vitamin C include much more than its ability to fight infections. Here, we'll take a look at some of the more significant ones.
Heart disease. Vitamin C plays a very important role in protecting the health of your cardiovascular system. By boosting the vitamin E in your system, vitamin C protects against the oxidation of LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream that leads to atherosclerosis, the first step in cardiovascular disease.
The benefits of vitamin C in lowering high blood pressure have been demonstrated in many studies. Individuals with high blood pressure (hypertension) are at increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
Cancer. The benefits of vitamin C as a powerful cancer fighter are well documented. Dozens of studies show that vitamin C protects against cancer in two ways: first, as a powerful antioxidant, it works by protecting your DNA from free radical damage, the first step to a cancerous growth. Secondly, vitamin C feeds your lymphocytes, part of your body's main defense system against cancer.
Vitamin C also offers protection from the harmful effects of nitrosamines, carcinogenic chemicals added to food, mainly processed meats. Nitrosamines have been associated with cancer of the mouth, stomach and colon.
Diabetes. Diabetics have problems with low levels of ascorbic acid and other antioxidants in their tissues. At the same time, these nutrients need insulin to transport them to your cells. Since diabetics don't produce enough insulin, they have problems with antioxidant levels in general.
This lack of antioxidant activity results in poor control of diabetes. The antioxidants don't circulate when the insulin is low, and then the insulin tends to crash because there are not enough antioxidants. It is a vicious circle that leads to a more rapid progression of the disease.
Wide swings in blood sugar level, either high or low, result in excessive free radical production and depletion of your antioxidant reserves. Being aware of this fact and supplementing with vitamin C and the other network antioxidants may slow the progression of diabetes.
Skin aging. The benefits of vitamin C in the body goes well beyond its role as a network antioxidant. Vitamin C is needed for the production of collagen, the connective tissue that supports your skin. Collagen is necessary for the formation of ligaments, bones and blood vessels. It is essentially the cellular glue that holds your body together.
Several studies suggest that the topical application of ascorbic acid skin creams and lotions can actually simulate the production of collagen and make skin look younger and smoother. Other antioxidants have also been used for these benefits, specifically, vitamin E and pycnogenol. There is evidence, again, that the entire antioxidant network may be more effective in this regard than any one of its components alone.
Here's a great resource to learn more about Natural Remedies for Skin Care. You'll discover how to use natural ingredients and a holistic philosophy to address skin issues and achieve the healthiest skin of your life.
Vitamin C may provide additional health benefits for these specific conditions:
More pages on this website on vitamin C:
A great resource for more information on vitamin C foods is
The World's Healthiest Foods