(Natural News) Vitamin C is highly regarded for its health benefits, which range from supporting the immune system and fighting off disease, to supporting healthy tissues and preventing wrinkles. Like so many other nutrients, vitamin C plays multiple, valuable roles in a healthy body. While most people think about their vitamin C intake for keeping colds at bay, or perhaps for keeping their skin youthful, a growing body of research is showing that the nutrient may also help keep your brain young and healthy, too.
Recently, a team of scientists from New Zealand found that vitamin C can help reduce the risk of cognitive impairment as you age. Their findings were published in the peer-reviewed, scientific journal Nutrients. Indeed, it seems this water-soluble vitamin is an antioxidant nutrient that truly benefits the entire body.
Vitamin C and cognition
Known as The CHALICE (Canterbury Health, Aging and Lifecourse) study, researchers looked at the vitamin C levels in over 400 New Zealanders who were 50 years old. Unlike other studies, CHALICE researchers did not rely on dietary intake of vitamin C for their data, and measured actual blood concentrations of the nutrient in the volunteers.
The team also looked at other measures of health, including triglyceride and cholesterol levels, and cognitive and memory functions.
To assess cognition, the scientists performed a battery of tests to gauge the participants’ capacity for attention, concentration, conceptual thinking, calculations, executive functions, language and memory.
Not only did the scientists find that vitamin C helped to prevent cognitive impairment — but they were able to pinpoint the extent of the protection.
Specifically, every 1 micromole per liter increase in vitamin C correlated to a 3 percent lower risk of MCI (mild cognitive impairment).
And, having levels below 23 micromoles per liter (considered the threshold for “moderate” deficiency) caused the odds of mild cognitive impairment to double!
The team found that even small increases in vitamin C levels could drastically reduce the likelihood of a person suffering with MCI. In addition to these brain benefits, high levels of vitamin C were also reportedly associated with “lower body weight, lower body mass index (BMI) and smaller waist circumference – along with better measures of metabolic health such as lower levels of insulin and triglycerides.” This coincides with research demonstrating vitamin C’s role in heart health.
Past research has shown that long-term vitamin C status (how much of the nutrient is available over time) greatly influences cognitive health. Experts have posited that vitamin C helps prevent neural losses typical of conditions like dementia.
The power of antioxidants
As Psychology Today explains, oxidative damage to the brain is prevalent in patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. As an antioxidant nutrient, vitamin C is known to help combat oxidative stress across the body, alongside an array of other health benefits.
Oxidative stress is known to activate processes which accelerate production of amyloid proteins, and then contribute to the buildup and formation of amyloid plaques — a trademark of Alzheimer’s disease. Oxidative stress also interferes with brain cells’ ability to use glucose as fuel effectively, and it disrupts the process of clearing debris from brain cells, encouraging the accumulation of toxins. This sets off a chain reaction of inflammatory activity which ultimately leads to cell death.
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant nutrient that also boasts antiviral, antibacterial and antihistamine properties. Research has strongly indicated that vitamin C is especially protective against oxidative stress and the damage it causes in other bodily systems.
You can learn more about the health benefits of vitamin C and other vitamins, minerals and more at Nutrients.news.
Sources for this article include: