Suffering from chronic inflammation can lead to all kinds of problems in your body. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a role in protecting joints, boosting your immune system and relieving inflammation. Your body absorbs and uses vitamin C immediately and excretes any excess. Since it is not stored, it is important for you to consume vitamin C-rich foods throughout the day. It has many beneficial effects on inflammation throughout your entire body.
What is Chronic Inflammation?
Chronic inflammation can be caused by autoimmune issues, infection or constant activation of certain inflammatory molecules. Monocytes turn into macrophages, which are white blood cells that degrade pathogens. While this is a normal response of the immune system, it can be problematic. If the substance that causes inflammation sticks around for awhile, the condition becomes chronic. During stages of chronic inflammation, damaged tissues are replaced with the same types of cells or fibrous connective tissues, but in some cases tissues cannot be repaired or replaced, resulting in a cascade of immune responses. Chronic inflammation is harmful to your body and can lead to several diseases.
Vitamin C and Your Immune System
Vitamin C is most commonly known for its role in keeping your immune system working at its finest. The immune system is vulnerable to oxidative stress from free radicals, which are harmful byproducts of digestion or foreign substances in the atmosphere. According to research published in the "Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism" in 2007, antioxidant properties of vitamin C help your immune system eliminate or reduce inflammation by warding off free radicals. Having inadequate antioxidants, like vitamin C, in your system or having an influx of oxidative stress can lead to chronic inflammation and related disorders.
Effects on Heart Disease
Having chronic inflammation in your body can increase your risk of heart disease. Since vitamin C acts like an antioxidant, it fights off invaders that can damage your heart. Taking vitamin C supplements may lower C-reactive protein, or CRP, in your blood, Science Daily reports. CRP is an inflammatory biomarker your doctor uses to predict your risk of heart disease. Normally, women need 75mg of vitamin C daily and men require 90mg. If you are at risk for inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, your doctor may suggest taking a larger dose.
Vitamin C for Arthritis
Arthritis is a form of chronic inflammation that leads to stiffness and pain in your joints. There are several types of arthritis, but each one stems from an autoimmune response. Vitamin C is essential for the formation of collagen, explains the Linus Pauling Institute. Collagen is a structural component of bones, blood vessels, cartilage and connective tissue. During periods of chronic inflammation, collagen within cartilage may break down, such as in osteoarthritis. This can make bones rub against each other, causing excruciating pain. Getting adequate amounts of vitamin C helps keep cartilage and other connective tissues strong, possibly relieving pain associated with arthritis.
Is This an Emergency?
- Linus Pauling Institute; Vitamin C; November 2009
- "Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism"; Contribution of Selected Vitamins and Trace Elements to Immune Function; Eva S. Wintergerst, et al; August 2007
- Science Daily: Vitamin C Lowers Levels Of Inflammation Biomarker Considered Predictor Of Heart Disease; November 2008
- Linus Pauling Institute; Overview of Inflammation; August 2010
- MayoClinic.com: Osteoarthritis; November 2010