If the vitamins all got together for a party, vitamin C would probably win the award for “most popular vitamin” and “best known nutrient.” Since we were little, we’ve all heard about vitamin C and how good it is for us. In general, vitamin C is extremely well-known for its ability to keep our immune system going strong—this is why many of us begin taking extra C as soon as we feel a cold or flu coming on. In 1995, researchers reviewed a group of studies on vitamin C and concluded that taking 1,000 to 6,000 mg a day of the nutrient at the beginning of a cold lessened the duration by just over 20 percent and shortened its duration by one day.
Most of us have heard the story about the discovery of vitamin C and how sailors in the eighteenth century figured out that by eating limes they could prevent getting scurvy. In 1928, the healthy substance found in citrus was officially named ascorbic acid (for its anti-scurvy powers). Nowadays, ascorbic acid is more widely known as vitamin C.
Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant and works on keeping the nasty free radicals at bay. In doing this, it may assist us in the battle against cancer by keeping our cells healthy. For example, recent research has shown that taking vitamin C may prevent cancer of the esophagus and stomach by blocking nitrates and nitrites into compounds which cause cancer.
Vitamin C has also been linked to improved cholesterol levels, and for people who already have heart disease, being low in the nutrient has been connected to a greater change of developing angina and heart attacks.
Unfortunately, many of us have also found out the hard way, traditional forms of vitamin C can be rather harsh on the gastrointestinal tract, especially when taken in high doses. In other words, if you ever felt a bug headed your way and you tried warding it off with extra vitamin C, you probably ended up with a different health concern all together.
Scientists realized this drawback to the popular and effective vitamin and began looking for ways to prevent this from happening.