Vitamin C is an essential nutrient and powerful antioxidant that can help to boost your immune system, keep you energised and stave off a whole range of diseases.
Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C must be consumed in food or high-quality supplements as it cannot be made in the body. It’s used to generate the protein that makes your skin, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels, and is an ‘electron donor’ that maintains optimal electron flow, fights oxidation and protects vital molecular elements.
All in all, it’s an important part of who we are and too many of us aren’t getting enough of it. This water-soluble vitamin is essential to your health, so make sure you stay at your radiant best by reading through our guide to vitamin C.
What are the health benefits of vitamin C?
As a co-factor in at least eight enzymatic reactions, vitamin C impacts a whole host of the systems that keep you at your best. These are some of the effects of vitamin C that you just can’t do without:
- Skin and collagen: Studies have shown that higher vitamin C intake is linked to a reduction in the appearance of wrinkles and the time it takes wounds to heal. It also contains antioxidants, which is one factor in reducing the risk of developing skin cancer.
- Mineral absorption: Taking vitamin C alongside iron increases nutrient absorption rates, which in turn helps to strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation.
- Free radical damage: Vitamin C can protect against a build-up of free radical molecules within the body, which might otherwise contribute towards conditions such as cancer, heart disease or arthritis.
- Cold and flu: Vitamin C can shake your immune system from its slumber, helping to fight off colds and flu and therefore prevent further complications, such as pneumonia.
- Cancer: Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and used in high-doses as a supplementary treatment for cancer. Lab tests have shown that it may slow the growth and spread of prostate, pancreatic, liver and colon cancer.
- Stroke: A study from the US found that people with the highest concentrations of vitamin C were 42% less likely to suffer a stroke than those with the lowest levels.
- Physical performance: The vitamin might improve muscle strength and oxygen intake during exercise, as well as reducing inflammation for asthmatics.
Symptoms of vitamin C deficiency
So, now that you know how important it is to stay topped up, here are some of the key warning signs to look out for that might point to a vitamin C deficiency:
|Bruising easily||Swollen or bleeding gums||Slow wound healing|
|Gingivitis||Dry/splitting hair||Dry, red skin spots|
|Rough/dry/scaly skin||Nosebleeds||Low immune system|
|Digestive problems||Weight gain||Swollen/painful joints|
Certain factors can increase your risk of becoming deficient in vitamin C, including:
- Birth control pills
- Diabetes mellitus
- High blood pressure
- High fever
- Sulfa drugs
If you’re part of any of these groups, it’s recommended that you top up your intake with high-quality supplements.
How to find balance through our diet and supplements
Like all nutrients, you can optimise the amount you take in from your diet by using organic fruit and veg, and consuming either raw or steamed. To help you find your natural balance, try to make sure you’re consuming 2-3 of these vitamin C rich foods every day:
|Foodstuff||Vitamin C||Foodstuff||Vitamin C|
|Guava||1 fruit: 377 mg||Blackcurrant||1 cup: 203 mg|
|Red pepper||1 cup raw: 190 mg||Kiwi||1 piece: 164 mg|
|Green peppers||1 cup chopped, raw: 120 mg||Orange||1 large: 82 mg|
|Strawberries||1 cup: 89.4 mg||Papaya||1 cup, in pieces: 86.5 mg|
|Broccoli||1 cup raw: 81.2 mg||Kale||1 cup raw: 80 mg|
|Parsley||1 cup, fresh: 79.8 mg||Pineapple||1 cup, fresh: 78.9 mg|
|Brussels sprouts||1 cup raw: 74.8 mg||Grapefruit||1 cup: 71.8 mg|
|Peas||1 cup raw: 58 mg||Cauliflower||1 cup raw, chopped: 46.4 mg|
*Figures courtesy of draxe.com.
With vitamin C, there’s no chance of overdosing as any excess will be excreted out later. Doses of vitamin C higher than 5000mg can be taken, but may cause diarrhea. Mineral ascorbate and Ester-C are buffered forms of vitamin C that cause less diarrhea. And if taking antacids please remember to take your vitamin C at least four hour beforehand, as antacids inhibit absorption of this important vitamin.
However, as 10% – 20% of us fall below recommended levels of vitamin C through diet alone, you should also consider taking a high-quality supplement to top you up. Taking one 1,000mg high-quality supplement has no real downsides. In fact, it will help to reinvigorate your health and leave you feeling full of life. Vitamin C should be taken two or three times over the course of the day as it is easily excreted from the body. Keeping your levels topped up in this way will ensure that you stay fully protected.
Hemochromatosis happens when the body accumulates excess iron. Vitamin C can increase this accumulation, therefore people with hemochromatosis should avoid the intake of extra vitamin C. Also, people with a glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, should not have vitamin C given to them intravenously.
Follow these simple steps and find out how optimising your vitamin C levels could help you rediscover your natural vibrancy.