Vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid, is an essential vitamin, meaning that it’s necessary to support your body’s healthy function. It’s famous as a cold remedy, but it can also be a critical supplement for boosting memory, de-stressing, fighting depression, and other positive effects. A side note on using vitamin C when it comes to colds,: it only works if you take it regularly!
Vitamin C has neuroprotective abilities, meaning it can help protect your brain from dangerous toxins. One way, in particular, that vitamin C has been shown to protect your brain is by safeguarding against a phenomenon known as excitotoxicity, which happens when your brain cells are too stimulated, and can often be caused by high levels of glutamate. Vitamin C can also protect your body against other forms of toxicity, including lead, cadmium, copper, and mercury toxicity.
It’s also known to be an effective stress-fighter. Cortisol, a stress hormone, can cause a slew of problems if there’s too much of it in the body, especially over prolonged periods. Vitamin C appears to be effective at reducing cortisol levels, particularly after strenuous exercise like long-distance running. In a study conducted on rats, vitamin C supplementation was attributed to reduced stress reactions measurable by biological processes like oxidation.
Oxidation is a natural but potentially dangerous process that can lead to cell damage and death, and “oxidative stress” is often a result of anxiety, mental stress, and excess physical exertion. Interestingly enough, oxidative stress is also thought to be an important part of Alzheimer’s disease. While vitamin C cannot reverse the effects of the disease, it can help delay or slow the onset by reducing oxidative stress.
Vitamin C has been studied as a possible supplement for depression. The theory behind these studies is that vitamin C interacts with your potassium channels, and depression can be linked to potassium activity. Animal studies have shown the vitamin’s antidepressant effects, but, more importantly, human trials have also yielded positive results, with depressed children and healthy adults.[7,8]
Vitamin C is also active in the adrenal glands, which get their name from their primary hormone, adrenaline. The adrenal glands are largely responsible for regulating our stress response through the release of adrenaline and norepinephrine, but they are also involved in dopamine regulation. Vitamin C is vital for your body to properly synthesize dopamine. Among other important functions, dopamine serves as a precursor to adrenaline.
One way that we know that vitamin C heavily effects our energy levels is that scurvy, a condition we usually associate with pirates but which is actually a vitamin C deficiency, causes extreme fatigue. Since there isn’t enough vitamin C to synthesize dopamine, there isn’t enough dopamine to create adrenaline. Vitamin C is also thought to be involved in acetylcholine regulation, and has been shown to promote release of the neurotransmitter in rats.
Vitamin C can also help you lose weight, which can, in turn, help you feel more energetic and improve your cognitive abilities. Vitamin C can help you burn up to 30% more fat when you exercise.
Pregnant women should take heed: vitamin C is absolutely critical to the health of growing fetuses. A vitamin C deficiency can even lead to miscarriage; while you generally get enough vitamin C in your diet to keep baby healthy, prenatal vitamin C supplements are highly recommended. Vitamin C is especially important when it comes to cognitive growth in fetuses.
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