C is for Mental Health

When you think about vitamin C, making sure to take it when you are feeling sick is probably the first thing that springs to mind.

The antioxidant vitamin C is known to have many functions for our health including the immune system, wound healing, neurotransmitter production and protecting the body from oxidative damage.

A new study indicates that these benefits may even extend to mental performance. 214 participants between the ages of 20-39 were given either a placebo or 500 milligrams of supplemental vitamin C, twice daily for four weeks. Multiple aspects of mental performance were then measured including mood, attention, fatigue and a growth factor in the brain known as BDNF which promotes the creation of new neurons.

The findings:

  • Higher levels of vitamin C in participants correlated with greater levels of attention to work and work motivation.
  • Those who took the supplemental vitamin C also showed improvements in fatigue and performance on cognitive tests.
  • The vitamin C did not appear to have an effect on mood or BDNF levels.

The takeaway: The study found that not getting enough vitamin C could be related to feelings of low mental vitality. When looking for vitamin C in whole food form, focus on eating more citrus fruits, kiwis, red peppers, and broccoli.

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