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importance of vitamin c

New Research on the Benefits of Vitamin C

By SDHealth.com writers. Not doctor reviewed. Read disclaimer.

Vitamin C is well known for its ability to control infections, neutralize damaging cellular free-radicals and support brain health and collagen production for healthy skin, blood vessels, bones and mouth. But three articles in medical literature caught our attention recently. They featured some unexpected benefits of Vitamin C.

Toxins
The first one was about the protective effects of Vitamin C against pesticides and other toxins. (This is important because we dump 2.5 million tons of pesticides into our environment every year.)

The discussion of Vitamin C and pesticides was published in 2007 and 2008 in the Journal Toxicology and Industrial Health. It clearly shows the protective effect of large amounts of Vitamin C against common environmental toxins.

Cholesterol
The second article appeared in the February 2008 edition of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. It demonstrated another benefit of Vitamin C in people with elevated cholesterol. You see, Vitamin C in the liver binds excess cholesterol and drains it through the bile ducts into the intestines. Fiber in the intestines soaks up the cholesterol and carries it out of the body. If our diet does not have enough fiber to eliminate the cholesterol we will likely reabsorb it. In fact, most of the cholesterol in our bloodstream has been excreted and reabsorbed numerous times.

Vitamin C binds cholesterol and takes it out of the liver. Vitamin C also protects the lining of the blood vessel -- making it like a non-stick surface to sticky LDL cholesterol. Instead of damaging the blood vessels, oxidized LDL slides off the walls of your arteries and is carried back to the liver by HDL cholesterol.

Blood pressure
The third article came from the October 2008 Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypertension. It clearly showed the reduction of high blood pressure from large reservoirs of Vitamin C. Antioxidants (especially Vitamin C) reduce poisons in the tissues called aldehydes -- think of the poison formaldehyde as a good example. Poisons drive up blood pressure; Vitamin C drives down poisons and can result in blood pressure reduction.

Foods rich in vitamin C include raw, uncooked citrus fruits and juices, melons, berries, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, leafy greens and tomatoes. Cooking or storing fresh foods for an extended period can reduce their vitamin C content. In order to preserve the vitamin C (and other water-soluble vitamins, like vitamin B) in foods, follow these tips from the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service:

  • store produce whole and in your refrigerator's crisper drawer.
  • prepare them as close to mealtime as possible.
  • only rinse (rather than soaking) to clean them.
  • serve them raw or grill, bake or steam (using a minimum of water) just 'till done. Avoid high temperatures and over-cooking.

Health is built one habit at a time. The more we learn and live health and wellness, the healthier we become. If you eat nutritiously, science firmly supports that you will be improving the quality of your life.

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From the San Diego Research Desk...
rose hips vitamin CVitamin C Lowers Marker for Heart Disease

Berkeley, California: Vitamin C supplements can help lower C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, a marker of inflammation that has been shown to be an accurate predictor of heart disease and diabetes, a study at the University of California, Berkeley showed.

Researchers found that Vitamin C lowered CRP levels in healthy, non-smoking adults with elevated CRP levels compared to those who took a placebo. Those who did not start with high CRP levels did not experience any changes.

"This finding of an effect of Vitamin C is important because it shows in a carefully conducted, randomized, controlled trial that for people with moderately elevated levels of inflammation, Vitamin C may be able to reduce CRP as much as statins [cholesterol-lowering drugs] have done in other studies," said Gladys Block, US Berkeley professor emeritus of epidemiology and public health nutrition.

PS: While plants are generally a good source of vitamin C, the amount in foods of plant origin depends on the precise variety of the plant, soil condition, climate where it grew, length of time since it was picked, storage conditions, and method of preparation.1

1. "The vitamin and mineral content is stable." Danish Veterinary and Food Administration.
http://www.uk.foedevarestyrelsen.dk/Nutrition/Vitamin_mineral_content_is_stable/forside.htm.
Wikipedia.org retrieved this on 2010-02-26.

Tips for Healthy Aging...
effects of exercise on healthy aging
Activity may give a 70-year-old the brain connectivity of a 30-year-old

Several key studies have proven that physical exercise actually protects against cognitive (mental) decline and improves brain function. The human brain is a powerful, thinking organ that is able to continually adapt and rewire itself. Even in old age it can grow new neurons. In fact, most age-related losses in memory and motor skills result from inactivity and lack of mental exercise and stimulation. In simple words, when it comes to your brain: use it or lose it.

A wide variety of studies support this view. Simple aerobic exercise improves episodic memory by about 20%, states a University of Illinois study. And that can be as simple as walking 45 minutes a day three times a week. This study showed that exercise stimulates the production of new synapses, the connections that help aid superior intelligence. Study author, Art Kramer, says that a year of exercise can give a 70-year-old the brain connectivity of a 30-year-old, improving memory, planning, dealing with ambiguity and multitasking." Fitness training helps change the molecular and cellular building blocks that improve many cognitive skills," he says.

Confirming the value of exercise
In the late 1990s, researchers at the Laboratory of Genetics at the Salk Institute in San Diego discovered that human and animal brains produce new brain cells as a direct result of exercise.

Walking is especially good for your brain because it increases blood circulation and the oxygen and glucose that reach your brain. As you walk, you effectively oxygenate your brain. Maybe that is why so many people feel their mind is clearer and they can think better when walking.

In addition, movement and exercise increase breathing and heart rate, so more blood flows to the brain, enhancing energy production and waste removal. In fact, several studies have shown that in response to exercise, cerebral blood vessels can grow even in middle-aged, sedentary people.

Dramatic improvement in cognitive decline
Several other studies confirm the benefits of exercise. Studies of senior citizens found that those who walk regularly showed significant improvement in memory skills, compared to sedentary elderly people. Walking also improved their learning ability, concentration and abstract reasoning. Stroke risk was also cut by 57% in people who walked as little as 20 minutes a day.

A study of 6,000 women during an eight-year period at University of California at San Francisco showed that women who walked regularly were less likely to experience age-related memory loss and other declines in mental function.

"In the higher-energy groups, we saw much less cognitive decline," says Kristine Yaffe, M.D." The exciting thing is that this study showed that even a little exercise is good, but more is better. Exercise is something that all of us can do that could have huge implications in preventing cognitive decline."

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