Way back as far as the 15th Century, scurvy (the disease directly related to vitamin C deficiency) was cited as the main cause of disability and mortality among sailors on long sea voyages.
We've come a long way since the early days of scurvy, and the later identification of vitamin C. We now know that vitamin C is not only important for the prevention of scurvy, but for many other different aspects of health too. Here's a reminder of some of its major functions...
• Enables the body to efficiently use carbohydrates, fats and proteins
• Acts as a major antioxidant; helping to protect cells and tissues from free radical damage
• Plays a key role in the formation of collagen, the body's major building protein, Vitamin C is therefore essential for the maintenance of healthy connective tissue, which gives support and structure for other tissue and organs.
• Has antihistamine activity and so may be helpful for reducing the symptoms of hay fever.
• Plays an important role in wound healing.
• Helps to support a healthy immune system - A recent review of 20 double-blind, placebo-controlled trials suggests that vitamin C does appear to help shorten the duration of a cold and reduce the severity of symptoms.
• Supports cardiovascular health - Vitamin C appears to protect LDL cholesterol from damage, and in some trials, cholesterol levels have fallen when people supplement with vitamin C.
• Supports a healthy stress response - studies have shown that supplementation with vitamin C helps to normalise stress-hormone levels.
• Improves athletic performance & recovery - Vitamin C's role as an antioxidant makes it useful for neutralising exercise-related free radicals before they can damage the body, so may help with exercise recovery. Supplementation with vitamin C may also improve exercise performance.