Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that your body doesn’t store it, so we have to get what we need from food, including citrus fruits, broccoli, and tomatoes.
Vitamin C is necessary for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. It helps the body make collagen, an important protein used to make skin, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Vitamin C is needed for healing wounds, and for repairing and maintaining your bones and teeth.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, along with vitamin E, beta-carotene, and many other plant-based nutrients. Antioxidants block some of the damage caused by free radicals, substances that damage DNA. The build-up of free radicals over time may contribute to the aging process and the development of health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.
It’ s rare to be seriously deficient in vitamin C, but many people may have low levels of vitamin C. Smoking cigarettes lowers the amount of vitamin C in the body, so smokers are at a higher risk of deficiency.
What are the signs?
– Dry and splitting hair
– gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and bleeding gums
– rough, dry, scaly skin
– decreased wound-healing rate, easy bruising
– nosebleeds; and a decreased ability to ward off infection.
A severe form of vitamin C deficiency is known as scurvy(which we wrote about last week)
Low levels of vitamin C have been associated with a number of conditions:
-high blood pressure
– gallbladder disease
– some cancers
– and atherosclerosis
– the build-up plaque in blood vessels that can lead to heart attack and stroke.
Make you get enough vitamin C from your diet by eating lots of fruit and vegetables as this may help reduce the risk of developing some of these conditions.
There is no conclusive evidence that taking vitamin C supplements will help or prevent any of these conditions.
Vitamin C plays a role in protecting against the following:
– Heart Disease
– High Blood Pressure
– Common Cold
– Age-related Macular Degeneration
Vitamin C may also be helpful for:
– Boosting immune system function
– Maintaining healthy gums
– Improving vision for those with uveitis (an inflammation of the middle part of the eye)
– Treating allergy-related conditions, such as asthma, eczema, and hay fever (called allergic rhinitis)
– Reducing effects of sun exposure, such as sunburn or redness (called erythema)
– Alleviating dry mouth, particularly from antidepressant medications (a common side effect from these drugs)
– Healing burns and wounds
– Decreasing blood sugar in people with diabetes
– Some viral conditions, including mononucleosis — Although scientific evidence is lacking, some doctors may suggest high-dose vitamin C to treat some viruses
Some excellent sources of vitamin C are oranges, green peppers, watermelon, papaya, grapefruit, cantaloupe, strawberries, kiwi, mango, broccoli, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, and citrus juices or juices fortified with vitamin C. Raw and cooked leafy greens (turnip greens, spinach), red and green peppers, canned and fresh tomatoes, potatoes, winter squash, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, and pineapple are also rich sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C is sensitive to light, air, and heat, so you’ll get the most vitamin C if you eat fruits and vegetables raw or lightly cooked.
You can purchase either natural or synthetic vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, in a variety of forms:
– powdered crystalline
Vitamin C comes in doses ranging from 25 – 1,000 mg.
How to Take It:
The best way to take vitamin C supplements is 2 – 3 times per day, with meals, depending on the dosage. Some studies suggest that adults should take 250 – 500 mg twice a day for any benefit. Talk to your doctor before taking more than 1,000 mg of vitamin C on a daily basis and before giving vitamin C to a child.
Daily intake of dietary vitamin C (according to the National Academy of Sciences) is listed below.
Birth – 6 months: 40 mg (Adequate intake)
Infants 6 – 12 months: 50 mg (Adequate intake)
Children 1 – 3 years: 15 mg
Children 4 – 8 years: 25 mg
Children 9 – 13 years: 45 mg
Adolescent girls 14 – 18 years: 65 mg
Adolescent boys 14 – 18 years: 75 mg
Men over 18 years: 90 mg
Women over 18 years: 75 mg
Pregnant women 14 – 18 years: 80 mg
Pregnant women over 18 years: 85 mg
Breastfeeding women 14 – 18 years: 115 mg
Breastfeeding women over 18 years: 120 mg
Because smoking depletes vitamin C, people who smoke may need an additional 35 mg per day.
The dose recommended to prevent or treat many of the conditions mentioned in the Uses section is often 500 – 1,000 mg per day.
– Because of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, you should take dietary supplements only under the supervision of a knowledgeable health care provider.
– Vitamin C supplements have a diuretic effect, meaning the help the body get rid of excess fluid so you need to make sure you drink plenty of fluids when taking them.
– Most commercial vitamin C is made from corn. People sensitive to corn should look for alternative sources, such as sago palm.
– Vitamin C increases the amount of iron absorbed from foods. People with hemochromatosis, an inherited condition where too much iron builds up in the body, should not take vitamin C supplements.
– Vitamin C is generally considered safe because your body gets rid of what it does not use. But at high doses (more than 2,000 mg daily) it can cause diarrhea, gas, or stomach upset. If you experience these side effects, lower the dose of vitamin C.
– People with kidney problems should talk to their doctor before taking vitamin C.
– People who smoke or use nicotine patches may need more vitamin C because nicotine makes vitamin C less effective in the body.
– Infants born to mothers taking 6,000 mg or more of vitamin C may develop rebound scurvy because their intake of vitamin C drops after birth. If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor before taking more than 1,000 mg of vitamin C.
– Vitamin C may raise blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. In older women with diabetes, doses of vitamin C above 300 mg per day were associated with an increased risk of death from heart disease.
– Taking vitamin C right before or after angioplasty may interfere with healing.
– If you are being treated for cancer, talk to your oncologist before taking vitamin C. Vitamin C may potentially interact with some chemotherapy drugs.