Every year on April 4th we celebrate the wonderful Vitamin C!
Also known as L-Ascorbic acid, this nutrient is used throughout our body in many systems. When someone asks you about Vitamin C, do you picture a tall, cold, glass of ors.ange juice? I know I used to, but oranges are NOT the biggest source of Vitamin C out there! For example an orange contains approximately 70 mg of Vitamin C, whereas guavas contain approximately 126 mg!
Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin. This means that it dissolves easily in water. Typically, water soluble vitamins are readily absorbed by our body, but are not stored very well. Therefore we must consume - through diet or supplementation - some Vitamin C every day!
The majority of people think of Vitamin C with regards to our immune systems. This powerhouse nutrient helps control infections by stimulating the activity of our white blood cells. Similarly, it helps heal wounds. But this is not its only purpose in our body. It is needed to make collagen (a fibrous protein found in our connective tissues like skin, bone, and cartilage), and to help produce several hormones.
It is this relationship with hormones that I would like to highlight today with its respect to fertility and pregnancy! Studies have shown that individuals with higher levels of Vitamin C also have increased levels of progesterone.
Prior to becoming pregnant, progesterone is necessary for helping prepare the uterus for implantation of the egg. It does this by helping to thicken the uterine lining (endometrium). Once implanted, progesterone helps keep the uterus relaxed - preventing contractions. Contractions too early in a pregnancy can result in pregnancy loss. In addition to creating a hospitable home for the fertilized egg, progesterone helps the woman's body accept the man's foreign DNA, protecting it from the woman's immune system.
Vitamin C is also beneficial to a man's fertility. It has been shown to improve sperm quality and motility. Vitamin C prevents the clumping of sperm that can limit a man's motility - and if the sperm cannot reach the egg then it cannot result in pregnancy!
With regards to sperm quality, Vitamin C has been shown to protect sperm from DNA damage and therefore decreases the risk of miscarriage and chromosomal problems.
Vitamin C can also aid in the absorption of iron - another necessary nutrient for a successful pregnancy. Through pregnancy and delivery a woman's iron requirement goes up by approximately 1000 mg! This is used in part by the fetus, the placenta, the increase in blood volume in pregnancy and the resultant blood lost during delivery.
This simple nutrient plays a vital role in our body and therefore should be shown appreciation - on April 4th's Vitamin C Appreciation Day each year and every day!