Vitamin C Boosts Health in 11 Powerful Ways

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Find out the surprising variety of ways vitamin C is healthy for you

Vitamin C has certainly been an important highly-studied vitamin over the centuries. The latest benefits scientists are discovering for vitamin C span from treating sepsis, pneumonia and COVID-19, lowering heart disease risk, preventing respiratory tract infections and protecting the brain, gut and bones, to relieving pain and bleeding after surgeries.

1. Treats Sepsis

Sepsis is one of the major causes of death in hospitals. In a study of 117 patients with sepsis, 56 received an intravenous (IV) placebo of 5% dextrose of 100 milliliter/time, twice a day and 61 received an IV of 3 grams of vitamin C with 5% dextrose, twice a day at the same dose.

The 28-day mortality rate was significantly different in the two groups -- 42.97% in the control group compared to 27.93% in the vitamin C group -- and the 72-hour sepsis-related organ failure scores also differed significantly in the control (4.2) versus vitamin group C group (2.1).[i]

In research of 30 septic shock patients being resuscitated at a hospital, vitamin C supplementation at a dose of 40 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) improved peripheral tissue perfusion and microvascular reactivity.[ii]

2. Prevents Respiratory Tract Infections

Recurrent respiratory infections (RRIs) are a common clinical condition in children.In fact, about 25% of children under 1 year and 6% of children during their first 6 years have RRIs, which significantly reduce quality of life and lead to significant medical and social costs.[iii]

Sixty children were enrolled in a study, including 33 in the control group and 27 who were at risk of RRIs. The treatment group -- which drank 100% orange juice with 70 mg of vitamin C daily -- significantly reduced their number of infective episodes.[iv]

3. Reduces Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Vitamin C has been reported to be efficient in preventing complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) from surgeries. CRPS after foot and ankle surgeries has a significant impact on the ability to walk. In a trial of 329 patients, 121 patients were included in the vitamin C group, which took 1 gram per day (g/day) for 40 days, and 208 were included in the control group, without vitamin C. Vitamin C was statistically linked with a decreased risk of CRPS after a foot or ankle surgery.[v]

Similarly, 153 patients who had total knee arthroplasty surgery took 1 g/day of vitamin C for 40 days while 139 in the control group took no vitamin C. Vitamin C significantly reduced CRPS compared to the control (3.9% versus 12.2%).[vi]

In a study of 542 patients undergoing subacromial shoulder surgery, 266 took a no vitamin C placebo and 266 consumed 500 mg/day of vitamin C for 50 days postoperatively. Vitamin C reduced the risk of CRPS by more than 50%.[vii]

4. Improves Outcomes in Critically Ill Patients

Eighty critically ill patients with severe pneumonia were assigned either to a placebo group that got a saline IV and standard treatment or a treatment group that took 60 mg/kg/day of vitamin C in a saline IV for 96 hours with the standard treatment. This high dose of vitamin C decreased inflammation and duration of mechanical ventilation and vasopressor use without any significant effect on mortality.[viii]

Transfusion-related acute lung injury patients were divided into a group of 40 given 2.5 g per six hours of IV vitamin C over 96 hours and a group of 40 who received a placebo. High-dose vitamin C significantly reduced oxidative stress and pro-inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein, interleukin (IL)-8 and malondialdehyde) and elevated anti-inflammatory markers (IL-10, superoxide dismutase).[ix]

5. Lowers Bleeding After Colon Polyp Surgery

Patients with large polyps were divided into a treatment group with 500 mg IV dose of vitamin C in saline administered two hours before colon polyp surgery and the next two doses administered on days two and three, while the control group received normal saline in a similar fashion with a total of 153 polyps being resected. Vitamin C infusion significantly reduced early and late bleeding by 78% and 76%, respectively, in the surgeries.[x]

6. Diminishes Risk for Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes and Heart Disease

Scientists have shown that vitamin C can fight high blood pressure (BP),[xi] glucose issues, cholesterol imbalances, obesity,[xii] metabolic syndrome (MetS)[xiii] and diabetes -- risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.[xiv],[xv]

While evidence from 28 short-term studies with 1,574 participants suggests that vitamin C supplementation may improve glycemic control, systolic and diastolic BP and glycosylated hemoglobin --  a diabetes marker -- in people with Type 2 diabetes, additional larger long-term trials are still needed.[xvi]

A meta-analysis of 11 genomes found suggestive evidence that vitamin C levels were associated with a lower risk of cardioembolic stroke and Alzheimer's disease (AD).[xvii] In a gene analysis of 52,676 patients in city hospital-based cohorts and 11,733 people in rural cohorts, insufficient dietary vitamin C intake increased the risk of MetS, hyperglycemia, hypertriglyceridemia and high blood pressure.[xviii]

7. Reverses Cognitive Decline and Protects the Brain

Vitamin C -- a potent antioxidant -- is associated with neurological and cognitive function. In a research study, 215 Parkinson's disease (PD) patients aged 50 to 90 years old were compared with 48 age-matched healthy controls.

A higher proportion of PD subjects had hypovitaminosis C, or lack of vitamin C -- defined as less than 23 micromoles per liter (μmol/L) -- compared with healthy controls (20% versus 8%, respectively). A higher vitamin C level was positively associated with cognitive function in the PD group.[xix]

Vitamin C deficiency has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases including depression, a breakdown in neurons in MS, a decrease in the antioxidant level, higher oxidative stress and disruption of the glucose cycle in Huntington's disease[xx] and inhibition of amyloid-β (Aβ) aggregation -- a known cause of AD.[xxi],[xxii]

In a PD-induced animal model, vitamin C significantly decreased the loss of important brain neurons causing cognitive dysfunction,[xxiii] brain inflammation, restored gait and locomotor activity and offered neuroprotection.[xxiv]

8. Boosts Gut Health

In a pilot study, 14 healthy human participants received a 1,000 mg dose of vitamin C daily for two weeks, which successfully modulated microbiota with shifts in bacterial populations and improved gut health.[xxv]

In research of 20 patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), 80% of the patients had symptoms of clinical scurvy, dry brittle hair, pigmented rash, gingivitis, easy bruising and/or brittle nails, 50% avoided fruits and vegetables and 15% reported reduced intake of fruits and vegetables leading researchers to recommend supplementing vitamin C levels in deficient IBD patients.[xxvi]

9. Regenerates Bones

In a review of 11 papers about the effect of vitamin C on bone healing, vitamin C accelerated bone formation due to enhanced osteoblastic proliferation and differentiation and its antioxidant function.[xxvii]

In an animal study of 75 female ovariectomized rats, treatment with kefir containing vitamin C and omega-3 led to the most significant improvement in bone density of lumbar spine and tibia and reversed high tumor necrosis factor alpha levels, showing its bone loss protection by suppressing inflammation that may help to lower postmenopausal osteoporosis risk.[xxviii]

10. Empowers Cancer Immunotherapy and Inhibits Cancer

In research reviews, scientists find evidence that vitamin C empowers cancer immunotherapy through its pro-oxidant potential, modulates epigenetic factors and regulates cytokine expression involved in immune response[xxix] and glucose metabolism.[xxx]

High-dose vitamin C synergizes with oncolytic adenoviruses against tumors by enhancing immunogenic tumor cell death and reprogramming tumor immune microenvironment in an in vitro study.[xxxi]

In both animal and in vitro studies, vitamin C inhibited liver cancer stem cells and the growth and metastasis of liver cancer cells by increasing the production of hydrogen peroxide and inducing apoptosis, or cell death.[xxxii]

11. Helps Severe and Long Haul COVID-19 Patients

Preliminary observational studies indicate low vitamin C status in critically ill patients with COVID-19.[xxxiii] In a recent small study in China, researchers noted significantly decreased mortality in severely ill COVID-19 patients who received vitamin C intervention.[xxxiv]

In several reviews of research, vitamin C increased the survival rate of COVID-19 patients by attenuating excessive activation of the inflammatory and immune responses, increasing antiviral cytokines and free radical regulation,[xxxv] which decreased viral yield.[xxxvi],[xxxvii]

Oral vitamin C (2 to 8 g/day) may reduce the incidence and duration of respiratory infections, and IV vitamin C (6 to 24 g/day) has been shown to reduce mortality, intensive care unit and hospital stays and time on mechanical ventilation for severe respiratory infections like COVID-19.[xxxviii]

Vitamin C ​​-- as both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory -- may prevent severe complications in respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 by triggering nod-like receptor family pyrin domain (NLRP3) -- a critical part of your innate immune system -- and nuclear factor-kB (NF-kB) -- a key regulator of your inflammatory response and cytokines.

In a systematic review of vitamin C and its effects on fatigue in cancer and viral infections, researchers analyzed nine studies with 720 participants. Vitamin C significantly decreased fatigue scores in 75% and fatigue levels in 80% compared to the control. Thus, high-dose IV vitamin C is recommended to fight long-haul COVID-19 fatigue.[xxxix]

Vitamin C As a Powerhouse Remedy

If you are looking for a vitamin that can really boost your health, vitamin C would seem to fit the bill, from helping to prevent metabolic disorders, diabetes, CVD, pain and bleeding from surgeries, fighting cancer, viruses, sepsis, pneumonia and respiratory infections, to restoring bone, gut and brain health.


References

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[xxxix] Claudia Vollbracht, Karin Kraft. Feasibility of Vitamin C in the Treatment of Post Viral Fatigue with Focus on Long COVID, Based on a Systematic Review of IV Vitamin C on Fatigue. Nutrients. 2021 Mar 31 ;13(4). Epub 2021 Mar 31. PMID: 33807280

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.
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