What Are the Benefits of Vitamin C & Zinc?

Lentils contain both vitamin C and zinc.

Lentils contain both vitamin C and zinc.

Vitamin C and zinc can provide your body with an immunity boost so you don't miss any of the special moments in life. A 2011 study published in "Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews" showed that taking zinc supplements 24 hours after the onset of symptoms reduced the severity and duration of the common cold. In addition, vitamin C and zinc may help prevent more serious diseases and ailments, such as cancer, gout and pneumonia.

Vitamin C

One benefit of vitamin C is that it helps your body make collagen, an important component of connective tissues like tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. A second benefit of this vitamin is its ability to help synthesize norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter critical to brain function and important to mood. Also, vitamin C supports the metabolism of fat and cholesterol. According to a 2008 analysis published in the "Journal of Chiropractic Medicine," supplementation with 500 milligrams of vitamin C per day was able to lower both triglycerides and bad cholesterol, or LDL.

Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral critical to the functioning of many enzymes in your body. Your body needs zinc to convert vitamin A to retinol, a light-absorbing protein in your eye necessary for detection of darkness. In a 2001 "Archives of Ophthalmology" study, researchers found zinc reduced the progression of age-related eye disease when subjects supplemented with antioxidants and zinc. Also, zinc plays a role in the structural integrity of your cellular membranes, which benefits cell signaling and hormone release.

Immune System Benefits

Both vitamin C and zinc have roles assisting your immune system. Vitamin C stimulates your immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells, which help your body fight infections. Certain white blood cells called phagocytic leukocytes release interferons, which actually have antiviral activity. Zinc is important to many enzymes within your immune system. Also, it assists white blood cells with infection-fighting and is required for the activity of thymulin, a hormone needed for T-cells to function properly. T-cells help other immune-fighting cells recognize infective invaders.

Beneficial Antioxidants

Dietary antioxidants, such as vitamin C and zinc, protect your body from oxidative damage, which occurs when you're exposed to certain environmental stress factors, such as tobacco smoke, pollution and radiation. Vitamin C is a very effective antioxidant, which, according to 2006 research in "Free Radical Biology & Medicine," can also help regenerate vitamin E, another important antioxidant. Zinc combines with copper to create a major antioxidant enzyme in your body called copper-zinc superoxide dismutase.

Dietary Vitamin C and Zinc

Foods containing high vitamin C content include citrus fruits, strawberries, red peppers and broccoli. Shellfish, meats, milk products and nuts contain good levels of zinc for your diet. These foods contain additional nutrients, while supplements may only supply vitamin C or zinc. Women should consume 75 milligrams per day of vitamin C and 8 milligrams per day of zinc.

 

About the Author

Based in Michigan, Keri Gardner has been writing scientific journal articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in such journals as "Disability and Rehabilitation" and "Journal of Orthopaedic Research." She holds a Master of Science in comparative medicine and integrative biology from Michigan State University.

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