Nutrition

Your Brain Depends on Vitamin C to Keep Your Memory Strong

Your Brain Depends on Vitamin C to Keep Your Memory Strong about undefined

Many people think the most important quality of vitamin C is that it can potentially help you fight off a cold or infection.

But this vitamin does a lot more than that. Vitamin C has now been shown to be vitally important for the brain and for the strength and function of your memory.

And right now, researchers are investigating the many ways it keeps your brain cells, or neurons, functioning correctly. Plus, studies also indicate that vitamin C even plays a role in helping your brain’s stem cells grow new neurons. Without this vitamin, brain function falters and so does your memory.

The latest studies reveal something surprising about vitamin C: How much vitamin C is in your blood reflects the state of your cognitive abilities. For instance, the more vitamin C you have – as measured in a blood test -- the better chance you have of keeping your wits about you as you age.

So, let’s focus for a moment on why this pivotal nutrient can make or break your brain’s future – and how you can make sure you’re getting enough.

Vitamin C and Your Memory

When researchers in Germany recently set out to find which nutrients might be helping people lower their risk for Alzheimer’s disease, they analyzed blood test results from more than 220 people aged 65 to 90. About a third of these folks had already started to develop dementia while the rest were considered cognitively healthy.

Of all the nutrients they looked for in their blood, vitamin C was found to be the key nutrient (along with beta carotene) whose measured levels paralleled the state of their brain health. For example, the people who had already started suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia were low in both vitamin C and beta-carotene. The folks with healthy brains in this research possessed significantly higher amounts of both of these nutrients.1

Added to that, lab tests in the Middle East have shown that having adequate vitamin C in the brain helps neurons in the hippocampus (an important brain memory center) fight off oxidative stress from free radicals. Left unchecked, oxidative stress can keep brain tissue from functioning properly and lead to problems recalling memories and coping with daily life.2

The simple fact is that maintaining your levels of vitamin C is crucial at every age.

Get Plenty of Vitamin C No Matter How Old You Are

A study in Australia that analyzed the intellectual skills of adults of all ages -- in their 20s up through their 90s -- found that your cognitive skills correlate with how much vitamin C you have in your blood no matter what your age. The analysis found that having a higher blood level of vitamin C meant folks were better at “tasks involving attention, focus, working memory, decision speed, delayed and total recall, and recognition.”3

A central role of having plenty of vitamin C circulating through your body and brain is that when it comes to helping your stem cells produce new neurons in your brain, vitamin C acts as a special kind of natural fertilizer.

In a review study that focused on how vitamin C influences neurogenesis, or the birth of new brain cells, Spanish scientists concluded that vitamin C has a “potent epigenetic action.” That means vitamin C stimulates processes in brain tissue that promote a healthy supply of stem cells and assure the creation of neurons where and when they are needed.4

Of course, this is only the beginning of the health benefits of vitamin C. We’ve written about many others from immune support to heart health. And frankly, this is one vitamin that most of us can use more of.

How Much Vitamin C Do You Need?

One study shows that 59 percent of men get less than 90 mg a day of vitamin C and 47 percent of women get less than 80 mg a day of vitamin C.5

But how much more vitamin C do you need? It seems everyone has a differing opinion.

The folks at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University believe young adults should get around 200 mg. For older people, who generally don’t absorb this nutrient very well, they recommend 400 mg. However, many people take far more than this daily - especially people who are battling health problems.

While we wouldn’t recommend going crazy mega-dosing with vitamin C, there’s not much to worry about in taking larger doses. If you take too much oral vitamin C the usual side effect is stomach-ache and diarrhea, which resolves when you stop taking the high-dose vitamin C. Some alternative doctors call this reaching “bowel tolerance”, and bowel tolerance is, of course, different for everyone.

According to the Linus Pauling Institute, there’s no reliable scientific evidence that doses of vitamin C up to 10 g/day (10,000 mg/day) in adults are toxic or detrimental to health.

It’s also important to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C. These include strawberries, citrus fruit, peppers, broccoli, kiwifruit, Brussels sprouts and cantaloupe, which all provide vitamin C along with other crucial phytonutrients that also have numerous health benefits.

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