Vitamin C is an essential nutrient. That means it is not only beneficial, it is required to keep the human body functioning normally. Lack of sufficient vitamin C will inevitably lead to dangerous deficiencies. Although much more rare today than historically, scurvy is a condition famous for affecting sailors, prisoners and others without access to foods containing adequate vitamin C.
Many fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits, contain vitamin C. Multivitamins and specific vitamin C supplements are also popular sources of this essential nutrient. Although sufficient vitamin C is necessary for daily health, there appear to be health benefits for increasing vitamin C intake beyond the minimum levels needed to survive.
The circulatory system enables the dispersal of oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Ample consumption of vitamin C is essential for proper circulation. Inadequate vitamin C may contribute to the early onset of disorders like peripheral vascular disease.
Vitamin C is highly correlated with a properly functioning immune system. Histamine occurs naturally in our bodies and helps to fight infections and colds. However, common allergens like dust and dander can cause excessive histamine reactions that are unpleasant to many individuals. As an antihistamine, vitamin C can reduce the severity of these reactions, lessening the need for dependence on medicines that suppress the symptoms of colds and allergies.
Antioxidants help to prevent cellular damage by free radicals. Free radicals are recognized for their association with many types of cancer but have also been associated with other types of disease that occur more frequently with aging. Arteriosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries that restricts the flow of blood throughout the body, is one example of a disorder primarily affecting people through middle and old age that may be slowed by the antioxidant power of vitamin C. Antioxidants have also been associated for years with undesirable visible signs of aging like wrinkles.
By aiding circulation, vitamin C may also lower blood pressure and help maintain eye health. In particular, vitamin C has been shown to be essential in preventing the onset of cataracts. The American Optometric Association states that consumption of 300 mg/day of vitamin C is necessary to effectively help prevent cataracts. Moreover, they also state that higher doses combined with other antioxidants are effective in reducing the incidence of other eye disorders like age-related macular degeneration.
Because vitamin C is water soluble, the body can easily rid itself of excess vitamin C through the urine. Therefore, it is better to err on the side of consuming slightly too much vitamin C since the effects of consuming too little can be quite dangerous.