Vitamin C: General Info

Vitamin C might be the most widely known and most popular vitamin purchased as a supplement. It is a water-soluble nutrient, making it very safe, and it is essential for the production of bones and connective tissue. With the exceptions of humans, apes, guinea pigs, a species of trout, a certain fruit-eating bat, and the red-vented bulbul, it is believed that all other plants and animals synthesize their own vitamin C. The vitamin helps with the absorption of iron and aids in healing wounds and burns. It is also an antioxidant, meaning it bonds with free radicals in the body that may damage cells and contribute to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and premature aging. Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a weak acid. Commercial supplements generally combine a mix of ascorbic acids with bioflavonoids, which help in vitamin C absorption.

For more information on vitamin C and cancer see the following article from TheDietChannel: Vitamin C May Help with Cancer Treatment.

Foods containing vitamin C

Vitamin C is found in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruits, dark leafy greens, broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes, liver products, and oysters. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin C is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women, with smokers encouraged to take another 35 milligrams.

A deficiency in vitamin C

Vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy, which is characterized by bruising, bleeding under the skin, around the gums, and into the joints, as well as infections or wounds that won’t heal, weak immunity, and loose teeth. Scurvy rarely develops in people who eat a balanced diet inclusive of fruits and vegetables.

Is it healthy to take high doses of vitamin C?

Many people take high doses of vitamin C, either because they know it to be an antioxidant or they believe it will aid their immunity. While immune system functionality does suffer from vitamin C deficiency, there is currently no evidence that taking megadoses of vitamin C will help the immune system and dispel a cold. Vitamin C is also popular in its use as an antioxidant, and some advocate taking large doses (1500 mg +) for this reason, or to treat memory loss, cataracts, atherosclerosis, cancer, and lung disorders. While the benefit of vitamin C in treating these disorders is unclear, taking large doses of the vitamin is relatively safe. It is water soluble, and will cause diarrhea when the tolerance level is reached. Bowel tolerance of vitamin C varies from individual to individual, and can range from 5 mg a day to thousands of mg. While vitamin C is safe, it is an acid, and high oral doses in forms meant to be chewed or sucked on may damage tooth enamel.

For more information on ways you can increase your vitamin C consumption see the following article from TheDietChannel: Vitamin C: Tips for Increasing Your Intake.