How Can Vitamin C Help You Lose Weight?

Adult obesity prevalence in the US has reached more than 93 million in 2016 (1). The numbers concerning kids and teens have more than tripled since the 1970s (2). Being overweight or obese substantially increases one’s risk of illnesses including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, type 2 DM, and some types of cancer (1) This reduces life expectancy.

While diet and exercise are the main keys to changing your destiny, there are also a number of nutritional tools at your disposal, which can help achieve weight loss. Another easy fat-reduction therapy for many who have gained extra weight is Vitamin C.

What is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C has been widely regarded as essential to everyone’s nutrition for several years now, especially to sailors who were victims of scurvy and a host of other diseases associated with the lack of availability of fresh produce like fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is one of the most essential water-soluble vitamins. It is needed for carnitine, collagen, and neurotransmitters biosynthesis. Many plants and animals synthesize ascorbic acid for their own growth requirements, but humans can’t because we lack the enzyme gulonolactone oxidase (3).

For this reason, you have to make sure that your diet is packed with vitamin C. The recommended RDA of this vitamin is 75-90 mg, but newer studies suggest a whopping 500 mg daily to reap off its full health benefits (4). This makes a perfect case for supplementation.

Vitamin C in the Treatment and Prevention of Obesity

As mentioned earlier, excessive body fat accumulation can cause several associated clinical manifestations like inflammation, cardiovascular events, type 2 DM, and some types of cancer.
The appearance of these comorbidities has been linked to unbalanced oxidative stress (5).

While inter-individual differences exist, stress plays a huge role in the development and maintenance of obesity, especially in people who have increased glucocorticoid exposure or sensitivity (6).
It is safe to say then that antioxidant-based treatment can be considered as a promising approach to possibly counteract obesity and its complications.

It has been observed that vitamin C intake is negatively associated with the occurrence of several serious health conditions, including the onset of obesity in both humans and animals. Among the many beneficial effects of ascorbic acid on obesity-related mechanisms include (5):

Modulation of fat cell lipolysis
Regulation of glucocorticoid release from the adrenal glands
Inhibition of glucose metabolism and leptin secretion on isolated fat cells
Improvement in hyperglycemia and decrease glycosylation in obese-diabetic subjects
Reduction of an inflammatory response

All of these features can be related to the outstanding antioxidant characteristics of vitamin C.

Another study showed that aside from regulating the release of glucocorticoids from the adrenal glands, vitamin C can help reduce the levels of stress hormones as well as other typical indicators of physical and emotional stress (7). It was observed that cortisol and high blood pressure were higher in those who did not receive a supplement.

Another evidence suggests that adequate vitamin C status can oxidize 30% more fat during a moderate exercise bout as compared to people with low vitamin C levels. The latter are also more resistant to fat mass loss (8).

Vitamin C is also important for the growth and repair of tissues in the body, which makes it a perfect drink pre and post-workout. One study found that 500 mg supplementation of vitamin C can offset exercise fatigue (9). It has also been shown to reduce post-workout cortisol levels and improve recovery overall. By improving your stamina at the gym, you can lose more weight through exercising in the long run.

Other Health Benefits of Vitamin C

1. It Helps Battle High Blood Pressure

Nearly one-third of Americans have high blood pressure (10). It puts one at risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of mortality worldwide (11). Evidence showed that vitamin C can help lower blood pressure by helping to relax the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart (12).

Moreover, an analysis of nearly 30 human studies found that vitamin C supplementation, on average, can reduce systolic BP by 3.84 mmHg and diastolic BP by 1.48 mmHg in healthy adults. In patients with existing high BP, vitamin C supplements reduced systolic BP 4.85 mmHg and diastolic BP by 1.67 mmHg, on average (13).

2. It Lowers Heart Disease Risk

Aside from high BP, several factors can increase your risk of heart disease and this includes LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels.

An analysis of 9 studies with a total of 293,172 participants found that after a decade, people who took at least 700 mg of vitamin C daily had a 25% lower risk of heart disease as compared to those who did not take the supplement (14).

Interestingly, another analysis of 15 studies found that consuming vitamin C only from foods can also lower the risk of heart disease. However, other factors like living a healthier lifestyle were not observed, making it unclear to pinpoint whether the differences were due to vitamin C or other aspects of the diet (15).

Another analysis of 13 studies found that taking vitamin C supplements greatly decreased LDL “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides by 7.9 mg/dl and 20.1 mg/dl, respectively (16).

It can be noticed that consuming at least 500 mg of vitamin C daily or eating a vitamin C rich diet may help decrease your risk of heart diseases.

3. It Reduces Blood Uric Acid Levels and Prevents Gout Attacks

Gout is a fairly common arthritic condition that affects around 4% of the American population (17). It involves inflammation of the joints, especially those of the big toes. Patients often complain of swelling and sudden, severe attacks of pain (18).

Gout symptoms appear when there is an excessive amount of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid, which is a waste product by the body, may crystallize and deposit in the joints. Interestingly, many studies have shown that vitamin C can help lower uric acid levels in the blood, thus preventing gout attacks.

Men who took vitamin C supplements daily had a 44% lower gout risk (19). Another analysis of 13 clinical studies showed that supplementation for more than 30 days can already reduce blood uric acid significantly (20).

4. It Improves Iron Absorption

Iron is yet another important nutrient that offers a variety of functions. It is important for the production of red blood cells and the transport of oxygen throughout the body.

Vitamin C supplements can help improve iron absorption from the diet. It can assist in converting iron from plant-based sources into a form that is simpler to absorb (21). By simply consuming 100 mg of vitamin C, you can improve your iron absorption by 67% (22). This, in turn, will prevent anemia (23).

5. It Can Help Boost Your Immunity

One of the main reasons why people take vitamin C is for immunity. It promotes the production of white blood cells known as lymphocytes and phagocytes to help protect the body against infections (24).

Vitamin C also helps these white blood cells function more effectively by shielding them against harmful molecules like free radicals. It is also actively transported to the skin where it acts as an antioxidant and helps strengthen the skin’s barriers and overall defense system (25).

Studies also showed that taking vitamin C can help hasten wound healing (26, 27). What’s more, low levels of vitamin C have been linked to poor health outcomes like pneumonia. Supplementation is needed to speed up recovery (28, 29).

6. It Protects Your Memory and Thinking During Aging

Dementia is a broad term used to describe symptoms of poor thinking and memory. It affects approximately 35 million people worldwide, mainly older adults (30). Studies suggest that inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain, spine, and nerves may cause dementia (31).

As mentioned repeatedly, vitamin C is a strong antioxidant. High vitamin C intake from diet or supplements have been shown to have a protective effect on thinking and memory during aging (32, 33, 34).

15 Vitamin C Rich Foods to Include in Your Diet

Aside from exercising and taking supplements, an effective approach to losing fat is to make a few dietary changes. Aside from lowering your calorie intake, you must consume foods that are naturally high in vitamin C. Here are the top 20 choices:

1. Kakadu Plums

You might not be familiar with this Australian native superfood, but it has the highest known concentration of vitamin C, which is a hundred times more than oranges! It is estimated that a single plum packs as much as 481 mg of vitamin C; that is 5,300 mg in 100 grams (35)!

It also contains high amounts of potassium, vitamin E, and the antioxidant lutein, which is perfect for eye health (36, 37).

2. Rose Hips

Did you know that this small, sweet, tangy fruit from the rose plant is packed with vitamin C? Six pieces of rose hips can give you 119 mg of vitamin C (38).

3. Chili Peppers

Hey spicy lovers, you can get as much as 109 mg of vitamin C in one green chili pepper! If you prefer the red one, that’s fine too! It can deliver 65 mg (39, 40).

More so, chili peppers contain capsaicin, which can help reduce pain and inflammation. Evidence also suggests that a tablespoon of red chili powder can help boost fat burning (41).

4. Guavas

This green colored and pink-fleshed tropical fruit is abundant in Mexico and South America. Single guava contains more than 125 mg of vitamin C. It is also rich in lycopene (42).

Another study also suggests that eating 400 grams or approximately 7 pieces of peeled guava daily can greatly reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol levels (43).

5. Blackcurrants

One-half cup of blackcurrants contains more than 100 mg of vitamin C (44). It also contains antioxidant flavonoids called anthocyanins, making them appear dark in color. Vitamin C and anthocyanins can reduce oxidative damage associated with chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative illnesses (45, 46).

6. Thyme

Fresh thyme contains three times more vitamin C than oranges! It has the highest concentration among all culinary herbs! A single ounce can provide as much as 45 mg (47). What’s more, even just sprinkling 1-2 tablespoons of fresh thyme over your meal can add 3.5-7 mg of vitamin C to your diet!

This is also a popular remedy for sore throats and other respiratory conditions. It can certainly help improve your immune health, create antibodies, and kill viruses and bacteria and clear infected cells (48, 49).

7. Parsley

Did you know that your favorite table garnish, parsley, is loaded with vitamin C? Two tablespoons can give you 10 mg (50). Along with other leafy vegetables, it is an excellent source of plant-based non-heme iron, thus preventing anemia.

Evidence showed that vegetarians have benefited from taking 500 mg of vitamin C twice daily. Their iron levels were increased by 17%, hemoglobin by 8% and ferritin, the stored form of iron, by 12% (51).

8. Kale

A cup of chopped raw kale can offer you as much as 80 mg of vitamin C. It also supplies high amounts of vitamin K and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin (52).

While cooking may reduce kale’s vitamin C content, evidence showed that boiling, steaming, or frying leafy greens can help release more of their antioxidants (53).

9. Kiwis

A medium-sized kiwi packs more than 70 mg of vitamin C (54). Evidence showed that eating 2-3 kiwis daily for 28 days can help reduce blood platelet stickiness by 18% and decreased triglyceride levels by 15%. This greatly reduces your risk of blood clots and stroke (55). Eating 2 kiwis daily for 4 weeks can also increase your white blood cell activity by 20% (56).

10. Broccoli

Eating one-half cup of this cruciferous vegetable can give you 51 mg of vitamin C (57). Several observational studies have found a correlation between eating plenty of vitamin C-rich veggies and lowered oxidative stress, better immunity, and less risk of cancer and heart diseases (58, 59).

Heavy smokers who were given 250 gram serving of steamed broccoli, which is 146 mg of vitamin C daily for 10 days, decreased their levels of inflammatory marker C-reactive protein by 48% (60).

11. Lemons

Who doesn’t love lemons? This makes for a perfect water-infused drink! A single raw lemon, including its peel, can give you more than 80 mg of vitamin C (61). This also acts as an antioxidant.

12. Lychees

A small piece of this delicious fruit can give you nearly 7 mg of vitamin C (62). An observational study in nearly 200,000 people showed that those with the greatest intake of vitamin C had more than 40% reduced risk of stroke. An extra serving of fruits or vegetables further lowered the risk with an additional 17% (63).

13. American Persimmons

This orange-colored fruit resembles a tomato. While the Japanese persimmon is the most popular of all its varieties, the native American persimmon that contains almost 9 times more vitamin C. A single piece contains 16.5 mg (64).

14. Papayas

A single cup of papaya can give you nearly 90 mg of vitamin C, which greatly aids memory and has potent anti-inflammatory effects in the brain (65, 66).

Patients with mild Alzheimer’s were given a concentrated extract of papaya for 6 months. Results showed decreased inflammation and a whopping 40% reduction in oxidative stress (67).

15. Brussel Sprouts

One-half cup of cooked Brussel sprouts can offer you nearly 50 mg of vitamin C (68). Like other cruciferous veggies, it is also rich in fiber, folate, vitamins A and K, manganese, and potassium. A review found that a high dietary intake of vitamin C was linked to 26% and 33% reduction in hip fracture and osteoporosis risks, respectively (69).

Key Takeaway

Vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin, can be obtained not only from the diet or supplements. While citrus fruits are the most popular source, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables are also rich in this vitamin; some even exceed the amount present in citrus fruits.

Vitamin C has been linked to several impressive health benefits, including weight loss, better immune function, less risk of heart diseases, enhanced iron absorption, and reduction in cases of gout and dementia.

A diet rich in vitamin C is an essential step toward good health and disease prevention. Eat some of the foods suggested above regularly to get your needs covered!



We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply