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Adult obesity rates in the United Kingdom have nearly quadrupled in the past 25 years. In England alone, 62 percent of adults are overweight, and more than 28 percent of UK adults are clinically obese.
Being overweight or obese substantially increases the risk of illnesses including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer. In Great Britain, obesity reduces life expectancy by three years on average, while extreme or “morbid” obesity reduces longevity by an average of eight to ten years.
Fortunately, there’s an easy and inexpensive weight-loss and fat-reduction therapy for many who are obese or overweight: vitamin C.
The European Food Safety Authority has identified a cause-and-effect relationship between consumption of vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) and a normal immune system.
Since 1970, when American researcher Linus Pauling published a book on the topic, people around the globe have been taking vitamin C to gain immunity again bacterial and viral infections (such as colds and flu), and to fight them once they occur.
This vitamin moves easily in large amounts into our immune cells. It has antimicrobial properties, and it promotes the proliferation of white blood cells (immune-system cells that protect from infectious diseases).
According to the National Health Service (NHS), vitamin C has several important functions. These include:
It’s also great for digestive health. The body absorbs vitamin C via the upper part of the large intestine, and taking vitamin C can resolve constipation and improve overall elimination.
Vitamin C also helps with stress. As an American study revealed, vitamin C reduces stress hormones in rats. Another American study done on humans found that during vigorous physical exercise, adults taking vitamin C had lower heart rates, reduced exertion levels, and less overall fatigue.
And German researchers observed that high blood pressure was substantially lower during stressful events among subjects who received the vitamin compared to those who didn’t.
In addition, vitamin C is safe! It’s on the World Health Organisation’s List of Essential Medicines as one of the safest and most effective medicines. Large amounts (more than 1,000 milligrams per day) of vitamin C can cause stomach pain, diarrhoea, and gas, but these symptoms stop when the excess vitamin C has passed through your body.
Although vitamin C is perhaps the most widely used nutritional supplement in the UK, most people are unaware of its therapeutic role against excess weight.
Nevertheless, vitamin C has been linked to lower fat levels, especially in the stomach area.
Stomach or abdominal fat, sometimes called “belly fat,” refers to deposits of fatty tissue in or around the abdominal cavity. There are two types of abdominal fat. The first is superficial fat; this is fat that lies near the surface, just beneath the skin. The second is visceral fat; this is fat that accumulates around abdominal organ such the intestines and liver.
Excess visceral fat is linked to heart disease, stroke, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer. This is the case because extra fat triggers the release of hormones that raise blood pressure, alter cholesterol levels, and reduce the body’s insulin use. Decreasing abdominal fat decreases your risk of these problems.
Remember that German study about stress and vitamin C mentioned above? Those scientists discovered that a diet rich in vitamin C caused the stress hormone cortisol to rapidly return to normal levels after a stressful situation. And when stress hormones are present for shorter periods of time during and after stressful events, the body is less likely to store up fat in the abdominal region.
A study in India found that taking only 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C daily for six weeks can reduce high blood sugar, high triglycerides, and high cholesterol (LDL) in patients with diabetes. This is thought to be because of the similar chemical structures of vitamin C and glucose, a simple sugar. In diabetes patients, the body can’t regulate glucose, and levels become unhealthily high.
A vitamin C deficiency doesn’t necessarily cause weight gain, but the vitamin seems related to body weight and fat accumulation. Scientists report that a higher vitamin C intake tends to be associated with a lower body-mass index (the leading indicator of healthy weight). Therefore, a vitamin C deficiency may hinder weight loss and body fat loss.
So getting adequate levels of vitamin C can dramatically improve your chances of losing abdominal fat.
The presence of vitamin C can help raise your body’s metabolism, resulting in weight loss, fat loss, and less abdominal fat. Without sufficient vitamin C levels, the body can’t use stored fat. Even when they’ve lost weight, patients with a low vitamin C intake tend to have more “belly fat” than those with adequate vitamin C consumption. This is true because vitamin C is required for the metabolism and reduction of fatty tissue.
Researchers observing individuals who exercise to lose weight have noted that inadequate vitamin C intake results in a decreased use of stored fat during exercise. Even with strenuous activity, the body tends not to metabolise fat without vitamin C. Those who use vitamin C supplements in addition to exercising, or those who consume adequate amounts in their diets, substantially increase their fat-burning potential.
All of this is backed by numerous studies, including one published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. According to the researcher, “Vitamin C status is inversely related to body mass. Individuals with adequate vitamin C status oxidise 30 percent more fat during a moderate exercise bout than individuals with low vitamin C status; thus, vitamin C depleted individuals may be more resistant to fat mass loss.”
Keep in mind, however, that vitamin C is not a “weight-loss wonder drug.”
Regardless of how much vitamin C you consume, you won’t lose weight if your daily consumption of calories is higher than the number of calories you burn via activities such as exercise.
According to the NHS, the average man needs about 2,500 calories per day to maintain his weight. For the average woman, that figure is about 2,000 a day. The NHS suggests that a safe rate of weight loss is 1/2 to 1 kilogram per week. To achieve this, the NHS suggests limiting daily calories to 1,900 maximum per day for most men, and 1,400 per day for most women. (Note that these numbers can vary depending on your age, height, weight, metabolism, level of physical activity, etc.)
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, and besides helping you lose weight and fat, it may play a role in the prevention of cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.
As a water-soluble vitamin, C is not stored in the body, and any excess is voided in the urine. That means you need vitamin C daily. Your body uses the vitamin to repair damaged tissues and initiate the growth of skin, tendons, bones, teeth and blood vessels.
The NHS’s suggested daily allowance for vitamin C for adults is at least 40 milligrams. America’s National Academy of Medicine, however, recommends 90 milligrams of vitamin C daily for men and 75 milligrams for women.
Aside from taking supplements, you can find vitamin C in many fruits and vegetables, including red and green peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, kale, grapefruit, kiwi, papaya, strawberries, black currants, and of course, oranges. Note that many vitamin C-rich foods are also high in fibre, so they’ll help fill you up without a lot of extra calories.
The NHS says you should be able to get all the vitamin C you need from your daily diet. However, because the body can’t store this nutrient, you need it in your diet every day. In addition, to avoid unpleasant side effects such as diarrhoea, the average adult should ingest no more than 2,000 mg of vitamin C daily, including from food, drink, and supplements.