Written by Ben Warren, a leading Clinical Nutritionist and Clinical Director of scientific, holistic health company, BePure.
For most people, oranges are a go-to source of vitamin C. They’re the fruit we turn to in the early stages of a cold, or when you’re feeling worse for wear. But do you really know how much we rely on this incredible vitamin for everyday optimal health – and in particular, healthy aging?
Why Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is an essential micronutrient that can have a hugely beneficial impact when consumed daily. It is well-known for its ability to support our immune systems, as well as its potent antioxidant properties.
In general, your immune system will respond to anything you absorb, inhale, or ingest. If it detects a potentially harmful substance, it will produce an inflammatory response as a natural reaction. While a certain level of inflammation is necessary for our survival, our modern lifestyles mean that many of us experience inflammation on a daily basis, often at levels that are detrimental to our health. This is because the detection and removal of these ‘foreign invaders’ is a taxing process on our body, and hence our energy levels suffer. In addition, a well-known by-product of ongoing inflammation is scars and wrinkles.
However, a strong immune system means your body is better equipped to suppress inflammation, and your overall energy is improved. But what you may not know is that Vitamin C can have a positive impact in a whole other area – the largest organ of your body, your skin!
Vitamin C & Skin Health
Our skin’s appearance is highly influenced by ‘free radicals’ that circulate our bodies. Free radicals are highly unstable molecules created by our immune systems to target and destroy cells and tissues. However, as they don’t filter out specific cells and tissues, they can damage all the living cells they come across.
One of the best ways to combat free radicals is to increase your consumption of antioxidants. Free radicals are also called ‘oxidants’ so the consumption of antioxidants such as vitamin C counteracts the damage they carry out, which can appear in the form of aging. In other words, an increased consumption of antioxidants can help to slow the ageing process from the inside out!
Not only that, but vitamin C helps to increase blood flow around the body, and it is hugely involved in the production of collagen. Collagen is what keeps our skin firm and supple, and its natural production declines as we age – hello, wrinkles! This is why getting your daily dose of vitamin C is essential for your skin tone, elasticity, skin tightness and reduced wrinkle depth. Hello, ageing gracefully!
Vitamin C & Healthy Ageing
As we age, our skin really bears the brunt of damage from the elements. However, some research suggests that vitamin C can protect the skin from UVB-induced rays that are so harmful for our skin. Here in NZ, we are incredibly lucky to have an overall lower exposure of environmental pollutants than many other countries around the world, however, we are often prone to similar oxidation within the body from over-exposure to the sun’s UV rays. Luckily, vitamin C can play an essential role in neutralising and removing these oxidants from the body. With that in mind, it's no wonder that so many skin and beauty products out there contain this powerful antioxidant.
In addition, Vitamin C also helps to preserve healthy levels of testosterone. Both men and women need adequate amounts of testosterone for optimal health as they age, with signs of low testosterone including fatigue, low libido, low stamina, poor focus, loss of muscle mass and sleep issues.
Where Can I Find Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is in far more than just oranges! Kiwifruit is a particularly rich source, but other great options include citrus fruits, berries, capsicums, leafy green vegetables and cruciferous vegetables such as kale, cabbage and cauliflower. How clever is Mother Nature, ensuring that many of the foods rich in vitamin C are in season and abundance during the winter when we need them most!
All in all, the important thing to remember is that vitamin C is a powerful micronutrient when it comes to maintaining optimal health and ageing gracefully. Our human bodies don't make this vitamin, so it’s up to us to ensure we get the most we can in our everyday diets.
So, if you want to give your immune system and skin some love, make sure you are getting enough daily vitamin C into your regimen. Your body will truly thank you for it!