As you get older your body starts losing its hold on a vitamin that can both help your immune system fight off harmful microbes and keep your skin looking younger.
Plus, studies indicate that getting extra amounts of this important nutrient may offset some of the deterioration of aging.
The vitamin also can keep your DNA functioning properly and may aid you in surviving cancer. In fact, it’s a first-line treatment among alternative cancer doctors, who administer large amounts of it to cancer patients intravenously.
What’s more, tests show that extra amounts of this easy-to-find antioxidant can shorten your stay in a hospital if you end up in intensive care.
I’m not talking about some exotic new discovery that will cost you a fortune. I’m talking about good old reliable vitamin C.
Vitamin C made its first big splash back in the 1960s, when Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling announced it could prevent the common cold and even cure it if you already have one.
That was pretty much the beginning of the great wave of alternative medicine that’s still in progress. For many people, vitamin C was the first food supplement they ever purchased. Before that, a daily multivitamin for children was about the only encounter with food supplements most people had ever had.
Now we know that vitamin C can do far more. From treating a cold to treating cancer is quite a leap. And the latest research into vitamin C shows it can do a lot when it comes to aging, too.
How Vitamin C Can Help You Stay Young
One important area where vitamin C can help the body slow the aging process, say Italian researchers, occurs in the process called “inflamm-aging.” This is the tendency of the body to go into a steady-state of low level – but harmful – inflammation as we age.
Chronic inflammation is rightly called one of the biggest health problems in our society. It’s implicated in almost every one of the so-called “diseases of aging” – heart and artery failure, arthritis, diabetes, dementia, cancer, and more.
According to the Italian scientists, who have reviewed how vitamin C affects aging, as we get older our internal defenses against oxidative stress – the buildup of destructive free radicals that can destroy cellular structures – can become overwhelmed. But extra vitamin C in the body can offset some of this destruction and improve the body’s antioxidant “pathways.”1
The scientists point out that vitamin C is “a powerful antioxidant and scavenger of free radicals” that does its antioxidant work in the blood, the brain and in various organs while also helping blood vessels function better (as they expand and contract) and keeping blood pressure under control.
A Cheap, Easy Immune Booster
Perhaps the biggest takeaway is that you don’t need to spend a fortune on the latest exotic new herb or nutrient if you want to hang on to your youth and health. By all means try the latest wonder supplements, but first make sure you’re taking all the basic ones.
Scientists in New Zealand, who have combed through the research on how vitamin C helps immune cells, note that 50 years of research into vitamin C shows it’s a “crucial player” in immune cell function.2 And plenty of research backs this up, showing that as we age we need more of the vitamin.
For example, a study in Spain showed that for women in their 70s, taking a gram of vitamin C daily along with vitamin E improved the ability of their immune cells to fight off infection.3 And a study on kiwi fruit (done in New Zealand, which grows lots of the fruit) found that eating two kiwis a day increased vitamin C levels enough to make immune cells called neutrophils better able to locate and destroy infective pathogens.4 (This study was performed on men who were mostly in their twenties.)
Keep Old Age Away
Other studies on vitamin C have added to our knowledge of the ways this crucial nutrient keeps the problems of aging at bay:
- Shortens hospital stays: Research in Helsinki found that taking vitamin C when you’re in intensive care can shorten your stay there by about eight percent. They say much of this effect is likely due to the fact vitamin C helps with things like “blood pressure, infections, bronchoconstriction, atrial fibrillation, and acute kidney injury.”5
- Helps protect DNA from damage and enhances its proper functions: Tests in Asia (and elsewhere) show that having sufficient vitamin C is vital for our genetic material to perform correctly in each cell.6
- Can lower the risk of dying from cancer: When researchers in Sweden reviewed studies that gave women with breast cancer vitamin C supplements (100 mg daily – a tiny dose) they found that women taking the vitamins lived longer.7
- Protects your skin and may keep it younger looking: Tests in Germany show that vitamin C and vitamin E work together to defend the skin against damage from the sun’s ultraviolet light.8 And studies show that if you cut your skin or hurt it some other way, vitamin C enhances the repair process.9
All of this research makes me wonder why vitamin C doesn’t get more credit for being the anti-aging wonder that it is. Maybe the answer is in what the Helsinki vitamin C researchers point out. . .
They believe that too many scientists and mainstream medical people are prejudiced against the anti-aging and medical use of vitamin C and other nutrients because no one really understands enough about why they’re so beneficial.
The Finns observe – “There has been systematic bias against the concept that vitamins might be beneficial in levels higher than the minimum required to avoid classic deficiency diseases.”10
It’s time to drop that bias!