New Study Examines the Importance of Vitamin C on Eye and Brain Health
Many of us are already aware of the importance of Vitamin C as it relates to promoting immune health. However, a new study reveals that a regular intake of this best-selling vitamin may provide specific brain and eye health benefits.
This surprising discovery was made by the researchers of the Oregon Health & Science University. Their findings revealed that retinal cells required high concentrations of Vitamin C for proper functioning. This study, published in the Journal of NeuroScience also found that Vitamin C may promote brain health since the retina is part of the central nervous system. 1
Vitamin C For Eye Health
Although the function of Vitamin C is not fully understood, we do know that Vitamin C reservoirs are the last to be depleted in times of food deprivation. These observations suggest that Vitamin C may have neuro-protective properties and may be useful in supporting several body systems, including those which are dependent on the proper functioning of nerve cells in the retina and brain.
Vitamin C For Brain Function
Triggered by Vitamin C, GABA-type receptors act as an inhibitory brake on excitatory neurons in the brain, thus modulating communication between brain cells. In the absence of Vitamin C, these special receptors no longer function properly. This would explain why feeling blue is one of the most common symptoms of scurvy, a disease caused by Vitamin C deficiency.
Functions of Vitamin C
Although Vitamin C deficiency leading to scurvy is very rare these days, inadequate levels of Vitamin C could cause inefficiencies in other important functions of the body.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that the body uses to produce a protein called collagen. It is used to form connective tissues such as skin, blood vessels and tendons. As an antioxidant, Vitamin C helps protect the body against cellular damage.
The importance of Vitamin C is seen in the benefits it provides:
Immune support – Studies show that Vitamin C supplementation in beneficial amounts may help support a healthy immune system. The result of three meta-analyses show that Vitamin C in the amounts of 200 mg to 2 grams per day helps support a healthy immune system and respiratory health. 2-5
Vitamin C facilitates the dietary absorption of iron – Iron deficiency anemia is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world. One of the therapies is increasing dietary intake of Vitamin C. This is because gastrointestinal absorption of elemental iron is enhanced through supplementation of Vitamin C. 6-9
Vitamin C is vital to skin health because it stimulates the production of collagen, which aids in supporting healthy skin and the regeneration process. 10
Vitamin C promotes cardiovascular health – Vitamin C plays a crucial role in stimulating the production of collagen and may help support a healthy cardiovascular system.
Vitamin C helps to promote healthy cell production – Because of the powerful antioxidants it contains, Vitamin C is used for skin health. 11
Who’s Potentially At Risk of Having Inadequate Vitamin C Levels?
Smokers – Studies consistently show that smokers are at risk of having low levels of Vitamin C due to oxidative stress caused by inhaling nicotine. The Institute of Medicine recommends that smokers take in 35 mg more of Vitamin C per day than non-smokers. 12-13
Those who follow an unhealthy diet – A diet rich in fruits and vegetables will enable individuals to meet the recommended daily intake (RDI) of Vitamin C. Eating fruit two or more times a day and vegetables, three or more times a day is generally recommended for a healthy diet. However, the percentage of Americans actually following this type of diet ranges from 8.8 percent to 20.1 percent. The rest of the nation, ranging from 79.9 to 91.2 percent, needs supplementary Vitamin C. 14-15
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1. The Journal of Neuroscience, Volume 31, Issue 26, Pages 9672-9682, doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5157-10.2011.
3. Am. J. Med. 78 (6B): 32-7. doi:10.1016/0002-9343(85)90361-4. PMID 4014285.
4. PLoS Medicine 2 (6): e168. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0020168. PMC 1160577. PMID 15971944.
5. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1999 Oct;22(8):530-3. PMID: 10543583. NCBI Website
7. Toxicol Lett 1990, 51:189-190.
8. Hum Nutr Appl Nutr. 1986;40:97-113.
12. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2000.
14. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2000.
15. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.