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Why do we need vitamin C?

14/02/2023 09:28
Matthew Messer

Why do we need vitamin C? 

Vitamin C serves many vital biological functions, which all become impaired in case of vitamin deficiency. Some select highlights of vitamin C’s chief qualities include the following:  

  • Vitamin C is one of the most important antioxidants in the body. Our natural antioxidant system -- which vitamin C forms an indispensable part of -- helps reduce oxidative stress caused by free radicals, environmental toxins and infections. (4) increased oxidative stress, as well as its accompanying inflammation can lead to the development of several chronic illnesses. (5) 

  • Vitamin C is necessary for collagen production, so it contributes to healthy skin and joints and improves recovery from injuries (6,7

  • Infections can increase our need for vitamin C; in case of vitamin C deficiency the activity of immune cells decreases, and the risk of infection increases. (3) 

What are the effects of vitamin C supplementation?  

Research shows that vitamin C supplementation has countless benefits: 

  • It shortens the duration of colds. Sportsmen and manual labourers are 50% less likely to catch a cold if they regularly supplement vitamin C.(8

  • It has an antioxidant effect, improves circulation and boosts the cardiovascular system. (9, 10

  • It increases collagen production, so if you take Collagen Peptides you should take it with vitamin C which consequently ensures a faster recovery from bone and joint injuries. (11

  • A higher vitamin C intake reduces the risk of several types of cancer. (12) When used in therapeutic doses, anti-tumour effects can be demonstrated, while intravenous administration of vitamin C can improve a patient’s quality of life. (4,13

Is there a difference between natural and artificial vitamin C? 

There is no difference between artificial vitamin C and vitamin C found in organic food since they contain the same l-ascorbic acid molecule. Multiple studies have been conducted on whether there’s a difference in absorption and they all came to the same conclusion: there is no difference in human subjects who take the same level dose. (14)  

Naturally, an abundance of useful ingredients can be found in organic food, some of which share beneficial qualities with vitamin C, and can even enhance its effects in synergy; for example, they can regenerate vitamin C already used up or lengthen its absorption period. Bioflavonoids found in citrus fruit serve such a function, and they also share vitamin C’s antioxidant qualities and improve circulation. (15)  

What’s the recommended intake of vitamin C? 

The official daily intake is 65-90 mg, and the maximum amount officially deemed safe is 2000 mg. Higher vitamin C levels in the body can significantly reduce the risk of illness, but to achieve these levels in the blood a minimum daily intake of 200mg of vitamin C is necessary. (18) 

The studies that found supplementing vitamin C beneficially used doses from 500 mg to 2000 mg in their research. Supplying such levels from food alone would be very difficult, therefore applying supplements is necessary. 

Pay attention to the absorption 

Vitamin C gets discharged from the body relatively quickly, and proportionally less is absorbed from larger doses; while more than 90% of 200 mg of vitamin C gets absorbed, the number drops to 50% with 1000 mg of vitamin C. Because of this, it’s recommended to take several small doses of supplements throughout the day, or choose a supplement which contains other active ingredients to aid absorption. 

A daily intake of 200-500 mg of vitamin C insures a sufficient vitamin C level for most people, but in certain cases, it might be worth taking 1000-2000 mg. 

Are there any negative effects of vitamin C supplementation? 

Vitamin C is one of the safest supplements, even large doses are typically easy to tolerate, and they do not cause side effects. However, if one consumes an overly large dose, it can lead to diarrhoea, which can indicate that they don’t need that amount. This sort of bowel tolerance can vary from person to person and can become significantly more severe with infection. 

A certain effect of vitamin C, and other acidic food, is to increase the absorption of iron from vegetables. (16) This can be beneficial for people suffering from iron deficiency, but since iron can accumulate in the body and in time can lead to serious health issues, it’s advisable to not take vitamin C supplements while consuming iron-rich food unless increasing iron absorption is the express goal. (17) 

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