What is Vitamin C?
Among several vitamins and minerals, our body is known to require a lot of supplements to keep it healthy and that can be acquired from a number of sources including a balanced diet and natural tonics. One such vitamin is Vitamin C which is known to be an essential type of vitamin as the body is unable to produce it on its own. It is primarily a water-soluble vitamin that can be lost through excretion and hence, must be replenished from time to time to help your body with positive effects of the same. Vitamin C can be found in a variety of citrus fruits, especially in lemons, oranges, guavas, plums, Mustard spinach, kale, kiwis, broccoli and so many vegetables out there including parsley. Mostly found in citrus fruits like lemon or amla i.e., Indian Gooseberry, it has a lot of health benefits when it comes to the human body. This is the primary reason why many healthcare experts recommend the consumption of food items that are the primary sources of Vitamin. Normally, your body requires only 90mg of Vitamin C a day and is more than enough to keep your body healthy and revived.
Why is Vitamin C important for Good Health?
The body needs vitamin C for various functions. Here are some of them:
- It helps the body produce collagen, L-carnitine, and some neurotransmitters.
- As an antioxidant, it helps remove unwanted substances known as reactive oxidative species (ROS) from the body.
- It helps the body absorb iron.
- It boosts the immune system.
- It enhances wound healing.
ROS are substances such as free radicals that result from natural bodily processes, exposure to pollution, and other factors. They can lead to oxidative stress, which can, in turn, cause cell damage.
Vitamin C’s antioxidant activity may help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of developing various conditions, including some cancers.
The body needs vitamin C to produce collagen. This is the main component of connective tissue and makes up 1–2% of muscle tissue.
Collagen is a vital component in fibrous tissues such as:
- The cornea
- The gut
- Blood vessels
Low levels of vitamin C in the body can lead to scurvy. Symptoms of scurvy include swollen joints, bleeding gums and loose teeth, anemia, and tiredness.
What is the Appropriate Dose of Vitamin C?
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has developed a set of reference values for specific nutrient intake levels, including vitamin C.
One set of guidelines is known as the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) and considers average daily nutrient intake from both foods and supplements.
RDA recommendations for specific gender and age groups should meet the nutrient needs of 97–98% of healthy individuals (1).
Here are the RDAs for vitamin C (2):
|Kids (1–3 years)||15 mg|
|Kids (4–8 years)||25 mg|
|Adolescents (9–13 years)||45 mg|
|Teens (14–18 years)||65–75 mg|
|Adult women (aged 19 and older)||75 mg|
|Adult men (aged 19 and older)||90 mg|
|Pregnant women (aged 19 and older)||85 mg|
|Breastfeeding women (aged 19 and older)||120 mg|
In addition to the RDA recommendations for vitamin C, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a recommended Daily Value (DV).
The DV was developed for food and supplement labels. It helps you determine the percentage of nutrients in a single serving of food, compared with the daily requirements. On food labels, this is displayed as %DV (3).
Currently, the recommended DV for vitamin C for adults and children aged 4 and above is 60 mg regardless of gender. However, in January 2020, this will increase to 90 mg (4).
May benefit some conditions
Some of the listed benefits are:
- Amplifying Your Immune Responses by Boosting Your Body’s Self-Defense
Vitamin C is known to have a remarkable effect on your immune system as it encourages the production of WBCs, i.e., the White Blood Cells know as lymphocytes and phagocytes. These are nothing but the chief soldiers of your body when it gets attacked by external pathogens and keep diseases and infections at bay. Vitamin C is known to be a potent skin rejuvenator that helps in repairing skin tissues and revitalizes them. It also is known to be a rich source of antioxidants which helps in strengthening skin cells and provides them with a new life by adding a layer of protection across them.
- Helping Your Memory by Protecting It from Dementia
As you or your loved ones begin to approach advanced age groups, it is often noticed that your memory cells suffer an exorbitant loss. This phenomenon often makes you susceptible to conditions like Dementia or a frequent loss of memory. As a rich antioxidant, Vitamin C also helps in revitalizing your memory cells and promotes the active ability to think and memorize.
- Reduces the risk of chronic diseases
Vitamin C is a significant antioxidant that helps in strengthening the body’s natural defenses. Antioxidants protect cells from harmful free radicals by boosting the immune system. Many chronic diseases are linked with the oxidative state which is produced by the accumulation of those harmful free radicals. Intake of Vitamin C increases blood antioxidant level by 30% and thus helps the body’s natural defenses fight inflammation.
- Help in managing Blood pressure
It is found that the leading cause of death across the world is heart disease, which is an outcome of high blood pressure. Vitamin C can help in lowering high blood pressure. On average, Vitamin C supplements can reduce systolic blood pressure by 4.9 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 1.7 mmHg in adults with high blood pressure.
- Reduces the risk of heart diseases
Heart diseases are the major cause of death globally. High blood pressure, high triglyceride, or LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, and low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol are the factors that increase the risk of heart diseases. It is found that Vitamin C minimizes the risk of heart diseases. Vitamin C supplements can effectively reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol by approx. 7.9 mg/dL and blood triglycerides by 20.1 mg (about twice the weight of a grain of table salt)/dL.
- Prevents deficiency of iron
Iron is one of the most vital nutrients that perform several functions on our body. It plays a key role in the formation of red blood cells and the transportation of oxygen throughout the body. Vitamin C supplements improve iron absorption from the diet. According to a study, 65 children with anemia caused by iron deficiency were given vitamin C supplements which resulted in improved iron levels in their body and control anemia. Therefore, intake of food rich in vitamin C or its supplements can improve iron levels.
Best food sources
The best sources of vitamin C are fresh fruits and vegetables. However, heat and cooking in water can destroy some of the vitamin C content in these foods, so eating raw foods is best.
Great food sources of vitamin C include:
|Food||Amount per serving||%DV|
1/2 cup (75 grams)
3/4 cup (177 ml)
|Kiwifruit, 1/2 cup (90 grams)||64 mg||107%|
1/2 cup (75 grams)
1/2 cup (78 grams)
1/2 cup (72 grams)
|Brussels sprouts, cooked,|
1/2 cup (81 grams)
Best vitamin C supplements
Vitamin C supplements can be found in are few different varieties, like:
- ascorbic acid
- mineral ascorbates, such as sodium ascorbate and calcium ascorbate
- ascorbic acid with bioflavonoids
Ascorbic acid contains a high level of bioavailability which implies our body’s absorption capability. Always try to consume supplements containing ascorbic acid.
Almost every multivitamin contains ascorbic acid. Therefore, it is advisable to opt for multivitamins that will not only boost your vitamin c level but also provide other nutrients.
Understanding the adequate of vitamin c consumption is crucial. A supplement should provide a vitamin between 45-120 mg based on your age and sex.
Can you take too much?
Vitamin C is known to be an antioxidant and a crucial nutrient that has many functions like producing collagen, reducing oxidative stress, and enhancing wound healing.
The maximum intake recommended of vitamin c by the professionals is 2,000 mg daily for adults.
Overdosing on any kind of supplements can lead to complications. Similarly, vitamin C overdose can lead to some issues, though not so severe like diarrhea and gastrointestinal discomfort. Consuming more than 1,000 mg of vitamin c daily will make them not absorb at all.
Food sources enriched with vitamin c cannot lead to overdosing as the body will be unable to store it. A high intake of vitamin c supplements can lead to kidney stones increases the risk of cardiovascular issues in females after menopause, although it lacks evidence.
If a person has hereditary hemochromatosis (an iron absorption disorder) should consult professional healthcare as too much vitamin C can result in tissue damage.
Vitamin c can cause potential side effects by excessive consumption; therefore the IOM has established the following Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL) for the vitamin (5):
|Kids (1–3 years)||400 mg|
|Kids (4–8 years)||650 mg|
|Adolescents (9–13 years)||1,200 mg|
|Teens (14–18 years)||1,800 mg|
|Adults (aged 19 and older)||2,000 mg|
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