Vitamin C, also known as “ascorbic acid”, is an essential water soluble vitamin that humans cannot produce on their own. While 80-90% of Vitamin C is absorbed through the small intestines, most of it is excreted within 4 hours of ingestion, as it cannot be stored.
Although the discovery of the vitamin hadn’t occurred yet, Vitamin C foods were used as treatment when the British navy used them to prevent scurvy among sailors. Since then, we have discovered the multiple benefits and uses of this important vitamin!
Uses & Benefits
Cell Protection – Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant which acts to neutralize free radicals that damage cells and play a role in the development of chronic diseases and premature aging. Vitamin C also elevates cellular levels of the antioxidant glutathione, regenerates and protects Vitamin E and prevents the oxidation of certain B vitamins. Supplementation has also been shown to reduce exercise-induced oxidative damage as well as bone breakdown from free radicals.
Stress Nutrient – The highest concentration of Vitamin C is found in the adrenals and under stress, our body’s demand goes up significantly as it is necessary for the production of stress response hormones. Also, Vitamin C is important for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a critical role in regulating mood.
Immune Booster – Vitamin C increases white blood cell (lymphocyte) production, antibody protection and has antiviral activity. It is often used to prevent and reduce the length of colds as well as speed up wound healing!
Allergy Relief – Vitamin C helps alleviate symptoms of seasonal allergies due to its natural anti-histamine effects.
Heart Health – Vitamin C has been shown to help control cholesterol and plaque levels, decrease oxidation of cholesterol and help maintain strength and elasticity of blood vessels. Vitamin C also enhances nitric oxide which dilates blood vessels thus lowering high blood pressure and lowering heart risk.
Collagen Builder – Vitamin C is a necessary building block to collagen, which is a protein that makes up the primary framework of bones, skin, eyes and blood vessels. Without collagen synthesis, tissues are weakened. It is crucial to skin rejuvenation and also helps maintains integrity of gums and teeth.
Other Benefits – Vitamin C has the ability to transform iron into a state that is better absorbed in the intestine. It is also used to detox heavy metals and plays a role in improving glucose levels as well as supporting metabolic rate.
What Depletes Vitamin C or Interferes with Absorption?
Factors include: high sugar intake, UV radiation, stress, heavy metals, certain pharmaceuticals and tobacco. Did you know that smokers have 25% less vitamin C in their blood than non-smokers?
Plus, Vitamin C is very prone to damage by heat, cooking, processing, oxygen, and storage over time. For example, a fresh, vitamin C-rich vegetable like broccoli—if allowed to sit at room temperature for 6 days – can lose almost 80% of its vitamin C!
How Much Do We Need?
This depends on stress, polluted environment, smoking and illness. Certain experts recommend 1000-1200mg/day for maintenance, however, dosage can be increased during cold and flu season and for those who smoke or struggle with stress or chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, asthma, arthritis, etc. Note that taking too much Vitamin C may result in loose stools.
Look for Vitamin-C rich foods such as papaya, lime, bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, lemon, brussel sprouts, pineapple, orange, kiwi, cantaloupe, kale, cabbage, grapefruit & parsley.
When considering a Vitamin C supplement, consider a product that contains mineral ascorbates and bioflavonoids whose natural metabolites provide quicker absorption and longer retention than any other form of Vitamin C.
By combining Vitamin C with mineral ascorbates, they buffer the acidity of regular ascorbic acid, reduce gastrointestinal discomfort and are gentler on tooth enamel.
Bioflavonoids (i.e. rutin, quercetin, and hesperidin) are plant-based nutrients that act as antioxidants, reduce the oxidation of Vitamin C and increase Vitamin C bioavailability. They also support blood vessels by increasing nitric oxide production which acts as a vasodilator. Quercetin acts as a natural anti-histamine, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Rutin also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities as well as works to strengthen capillaries. Hesperidin is often used for treatment of varicose veins and hemorrhoids as it reduces capillary permeability and works as an anti-inflammatory agent.