All About Vitamin C

We all associate vitamin C with getting a cold, and even with skin creams and anti-aging serums, but this powerful antioxidant does countless critical functions in the body. That’s why I am a fan of supplementing with high dose Vitamin C for most of the year.

What does Vitamin C do?
Vitamin C is widely known for aiding and supporting our immune system, but it has a wide variety of other advantages as well. Not only does vitamin C function as an antioxidant, but according to the National Institutes of Health, it helps our body “regenerate other antioxidants in the body” including vitamin E. Because of this, the National Institutes of Health suggest Vitamin C may play a role in preventing oxidative stress (an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants) which can contribute to things like reduced healing and detoxifying of the body, poor dental health, heart disease, and cancer.
Vitamin C also aids in the “growth, development, and repair” of all tissues in the body, including hair, skin, and bones. It can aid increased wound healing and help support overall healthier-looking and more elastic skin and may prevent wrinkles. Because of the tissue repairing benefits of Vitamin C, it is suggested it can even help protect our vision and prevent some forms of eye disease. Vitamin C is also required in the formation of collagen and in the absorption of iron. This nutrient offers so many benefits in terms of immune support, skin health, sweeping up damaging free radicals, and general well-being.
It is an essential component to our diet, but are we getting enough of it to see these benefits?
How much do I need?
While the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women, (and 35 mg on top of that is recommended for smokers) many studies suggest this target may be far too low for achieving optimal health and cellular functioning. The RDA guidelines are based on a minimal dosage to maintain health with no deficiency. Many believe the RDA guidelines are far too low for us to see the real advantages of optimal levels of vitamin C. 

While the RDA remains low, almost every study on Vitamin C shows benefits for specific conditions at doses of 500 to 2,000 mg. This is partially why most supplemental vitamin C comes in higher doses. 

By the way, Vitamin C is water-soluble so if you consume more than your body can absorb at any one time, it is carried out by water in your bladder and colon. Those with kidney disease or a history of kidney stones should stay away from long term doses above 1,000 mg and should look for food-based supplements instead of the common ascorbic acid form of Vitamin C found in most supplements. Negative effects of high dose Vitamin C are only found with ascorbic acid supplementation, so those with kidney issues should not shy away from foods rich in Vitamin C. 

High dose vitamin C can reduce cold, bronchitis, and pneumonia symptoms by as much as 20%.  Several studies have shown that supplementing with 500 mg “significantly reduced” triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.  And that those with low vitamin C intake have a greater risk of death from existing heart conditions. 
Increase your Vitamin C

The good news is, vitamin C can be found in a variety of foods that are part of our typical diet, and you can get a good amount of vitamin C without altering your lifestyle. Fresh produce consumed daily is the key to maintaining adequate vitamin C intake. Load up on citrus fruits, tropical fruits, berries, melons, and vegetables like kale, sweet potatoes, red and green peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts.

There are lots of ways of getting a good amount of vitamin C in your everyday diet, but when does it make sense to supplement?

Eating foods high in vitamin C will always be your best bet, but supplementing is sometimes just flat out easier. Many advantages from vitamin C are seen at a higher dose, so supplementing can be an easy way to get the maximum benefit from this vitamin without purchasing your whole produce section.

The good news is, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to bump up your vitamin C levels, and supplementing vitamin C does not make it harder for your body to absorb as long as you’re taking smaller doses (around 100 mg per pill is the easiest for your body to absorb.) Supplementing your vitamin C can be a fantastic way to support your immune system and your overall health without breaking the bank, and it’s an easy way to do something kind for your body today!

Some of my favorite vitamin C supplements are these gummies with extra zinc or these high dose capsules.

—> Bottom Line: If you are eating multiple servings of fruits and vegetables daily and are generally healthy then you probably don’t need to take a Vitamin C supplement. However, with most Americans living with a chronic disease, immune, heart or detoxification issues, and eating a poor diet, I recommend Vitamin C supplementation to cover your bases, at least in the winter.

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