6. Boosts Immunity by Helping White Blood Cells Function Better

One of the main reasons people take vitamin C supplements is to boost their immunity.

Vitamin C is involved in many parts of the immune system.

First, vitamin C helps encourage the production of white blood cells known as lymphocytes and phagocytes, which help protect the body against infections (21).

Second, vitamin C helps these white blood cells function more effectively while protecting them from damage by potentially harmful molecules, such as free radicals.

Third, vitamin C is an essential part of the skin’s defense system. It is actively transported to the skin where it can act as an antioxidant and help strengthen the skin’s barriers (22).

Studies have also shown that taking vitamin C may shorten wound healing time (2324).

What’s more, low vitamin C levels have been linked to poor health outcomes.

For example, people who suffer from pneumonia tend to have lower vitamin C levels, and vitamin C supplements have been shown to shorten the recovery time (2526).

SUMMARY Vitamin C may boost immunity by helping white blood cells function more effectively, strengthening your skin’s defense system and helping wounds heal faster.

7. Protects Your Memory and Thinking as You Age

Dementia is a broad term used to describe symptoms of poor thinking and memory.

It affects over 35 million people worldwide and typically occurs among older adults (27).

Studies suggest that oxidative stress and inflammation near the brain, spine and nerves (altogether known as the central nervous system) can increase the risk of dementia (28).

Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant. Low levels of this vitamin have been linked to an impaired ability to think and remember (2930).

Moreover, several studies have shown that people with dementia may have lower levels of vitamin C in the blood (3132).

Furthermore, high vitamin C intakes from food or supplements have been shown to have a protective effect on thinking and memory with age (333435).

Vitamin C supplements may aid against conditions like dementia if you do not get enough vitamin C from the diet. However, more human-based studies are needed in order to understand the impact of vitamin C supplements on nervous system health (36).

SUMMARY Low vitamin C levels have been linked to an increased risk of memory and thinking disorders like dementia, while a high intake of vitamin C from foods and supplements has been shown to have a protective effect.

Unproven Claims About Vitamin C

While vitamin C has many scientifically proven benefits, it also has many unfounded claims supported by either weak evidence or no evidence at all.

Here are some unproven claims about vitamin C:

  • Prevents the common cold: While vitamin C appears to reduce the severity of colds and the recovery time by 8% in adults and 14% in children, it is not able to prevent them (37).
  • Reduces cancer risk: A handful of studies have linked vitamin C intake to a lower risk of several cancers. However, most of these studies have found that vitamin C does not affect the risk of developing cancer (38).
  • Protects against eye diseases: Vitamin C has been linked to reduced risks of eye diseases like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. However, vitamin C supplements have no effect or may even cause harm (394041).
  • May treat lead toxicity: Although people with lead toxicity appear to have low vitamin C levels, there is no strong evidence from human studies that show vitamin C can treat lead toxicity (42).

SUMMARY Although vitamin C has many proven benefits, it has not been shown to prevent the common cold, reduce cancer risk, protect against eye diseases or treat lead toxicity.

The Bottom Line

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that must be obtained from the diet or supplements.

It has been linked to many impressive health benefits, such as boosting antioxidant levels, reducing blood pressure, reducing heart disease risk, protecting against gout attacks, improving iron absorption, boosting immunity and reducing dementia risk.

Overall, vitamin C supplements are a great and simple way to boost your vitamin C intake if you struggle to get enough from your diet.