Vitamin C a “Rescuer” from Premature Aging 

Notable Benefits  and influence on cells, vision, regulating Sirt1 and chromosome telomeres 

It is fascinating that research shows that individuals with high levels of vitamin C may live longer than those who are lacking. 

A 16 year study was performed with 948 individuals between the ages of 53 and 84 looking at vitamin C status. The study showed that individuals with the highest vitamin C blood levels had a 25% reduced risk of premature death from different health conditions (Wang S-M et al, 2018). That’s amazing. 

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble vitamin which is found in citrus fruits like oranges, strawberries, broccoli and in raw leafy vegetables. In the body, vitamin C functions to help protect the immune system, but helps in developing and maintaining connective tissues, forming bone, gums and in healing wounds. 

In general, with the aging population, it has been shown that there is a risk of low vitamin consumption. In the United States, total food intake decreases significantly with age by 1000 to 1200 calories in men, and between 600 to 800 calories in women (Thomas DR, 2006). It has been stated that there is a high level of nutrient deficiencies in the United States. Improving the diet and/or supplementation could reduce premature aging and health conditions (Ames BN, 2018). 

Animal research has shown that vitamin C has the ability to “rescue” the body from premature aging during senescence where cells lose their power to divide and grow normal (Monacelli F et al, 2017). Consumption of vitamin C seems to prevent abnormal cell growth, oxidative damage, wear and tear of telomeres (tips of genetic chromosomes) and helps to extend lifespan (Monacelli F et al, 2017). 

Vitamin C’s importance to vision during the aging process 

As aging progresses, individuals have vision problems because of various reasons including oxidative stress from free radicals, injury to proteins, lipids, DNA and the mitochondria in the retina. Antioxidants such as vitamin C have demonstrated a benefit to slowing down the aging process and this damage (Wei W et al, 2014). 

The macula is important since it is involved with clear vision straight ahead and is found close to the middle of the retina. The retina is a thin layer of tissue located at the back of the eyes. The retina holds the light sensing cells that send visual signals to the brain. The retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE) protects and provides nutrition for the photoreceptors. The RPE also removes waste materials and stops more blood vessels from developing and growing into the retina. If RPEs are not operating properly, it causes increased problems for the macula so the RPEs need to stay healthy. 

Vitamin C has demonstrated as an antioxidant to have protective effects and it helps with regulating sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) in the RPEs when they are under attack by free radicals (Wei W et al, 2014). 

Sirtuins are important because they are associated with longevity. A large body of research shows evidence of its importance for cell health, blood sugar, neuroprotection and weight management (Poulose N, Raju R, 2015). 

Individuals with a health condition and/or are on prescription medication should check with their health care provider prior to changing their diet or adding supplements. 

In summary, vitamin C is an important nutrient found in a variety of citrus fruits and leafy vegetables. It appears to be lacking in the diets of many Americans including the aging population. Vitamin C has anti-aging properties as an antioxidant and has positive effects on SIRT1, telomeres and has other functions. It should not be unforgotten in the diet or in supplementation since it is critical for longevity.

This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. 

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