Vitamin C Information: Don't Overlook This One!



foods with calcium

Basic Vitamin C Information

For starters, always make sure you're getting your vitamin C information (or info for any other supplement for that matter). There's so much misleading and incorrect information out there...it's pretty ridiculous. Well, you're in luck: you've come to the right place!

Let's get started!

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is likely the most recognized vitamin that exists due to its antioxidant function (along with vitamin E) and ability to help absorb other vitamins and minerals. It's also critical for the formation of connective tissues (namely collagen, located in the skin, teeth, bones, tendons, ligaments and cartilage).

In short, vitamin C is needed to form hydroxyl (-OH or alcohol) groups on the collegen fibers so they can adhere together to form a triple-stranded helical structure of collagen. It holds all your cells together!

As with other vitamins, vitamin C is a cofactor for important enzymes. In this case, collagen formation and the creation of bile acids (described later). Here're some more important vitamin C information...

-Again, it's vital in the formation of collagen. Important! Collagen is the stuff that holds all your cells together. Can you guess what happens if you have a vitamin C deficiency? That's right, your cells don't hold together! The result is blistering and bleeding in a condition known as scurvy (occurs most severely around the gumline).

-Helps maintain the capillaries. Because capillaries have a collagen component (they're elastic), vitamin C is required to repair blood vessels.

-Vitamin C also maintains the active state of a molecule known as glutathione which prevents antioxidant damage to other nutrients, such as vitamin A, vitamin E and fatty acids taken in with the diet.

-Vitamin C is also required in the formation of bile acids. The reaction, which uses the enzyme 7-alpha-hydroxylase, adds an alcohol group to a cholesterol molecule, making it more water soluble. When they interact with fats (and fat-soluble vitamins) from the food you take in, the fats also become more soluble and are allowed to be taken up by intestinal cells. In short, you need vitamin C to digest fats and fat soluble vitamins (such as vitamins A, D, E and K).

-It's also important for maintaining the oxidation state of iron. Basically, iron must be in the 2+ state to be used by hemoglobin (a protein needed to deliver oxygen to the body's cells) in the formation of red blood cells. Because a conversion of iron to the 3+ is chemically very easy, vitamin C is used to help protect the iron from this conversion so that it can be used in hemoglobin.

Reference Nutrient Intake

a.k.a. Recommended Daily Allowance

Here's a short reference table on how much vitamin C you should be getting in a day. Yes, there are consequences for too little and too much vitamin C. An explanation of these effects comes a little farther down the page. Remember, the recommended intake depends largely on age, gender and body type and will not be the same for everyone.

Recommended Daily Intake of Vitamin C (mg)
Infants30-40
Kids40-50
Adult Males60-65
Adult Females60-65
Pregnant70-75
Lactating90-100

It's obvious that readily available vitamin C information has become fairly unreliable due to marketing scams. Don't fall for the ads selling you vitamin C supplements. You don't need them! Make sure you're getting the right vitamin C information from the right sources, the smart way!

With that said, here're some great sources of vitamin C.

Food Sources of Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
StrawberriesWatermelon
BroccoliPlantains
Potato SkinsCanteloupe
Citrus Fruits and JuicesCabbage
CauliflowerRed and Green Peppers
Other Green Vegetables


Vitamin C Overdose

There's no real acute (short term and fast acting) toxicity known for taking too much vitamin C, but impure forms can create problems. In short, when ascorbic acid is reduced to dehydroascorbic acid even in the confines of a multivitamin pill. It's therefore important to evaluate the source of your multivitamins. This is why megadoses can cause problems: a buildup of dehydroascorbic acid.

Many people overdose on vitamin C because they think it'll prevent infections and illnesses. In fact, there's no scientific evidence indicating that vitamin C in any way prevents, cures or helps relieve symptoms of common illnesses and allergies.

Cold symptoms may be diminished (slightly) if you take megadoses of vitamin C. Because the evidence isn't really there to support this notion, this relief may be due to a placebo effect. On the other hand, these megadoses have other effects such as diarrhea (resulting in dehydration), kidney stones and ischemia (lack of oxygen delivered to the heart resulting in abnormal heart rhythms).

In other words, it's generally not recommended to take these types of doses for either slight relief of symptoms or a placebo effect (the results are a little drastic, right?) It's not worth it! Just take cold medicine!

Don't let anyone tell you that there's no detrimental effect of taking tons of extra vitamin C; this is the leverage that marketers like to use so that you'll buy vitamin pills and supplements from them. If nothing else, they produce a placebo effect. In other words, you'll feel better because you think you'll feel better. Heck, you just took a megadose of vitamin C! It's not worth the consequences.

The only real reason to take vitamin C supplements (not megadoses!) is to prevent chronic debilitating disease such as heart disease and cancers due to the elimination of damaging free radicals formed by sunlight, ozone gas, smoking, or any other dangerous carcinogen or pollutant that we may encounter daily. Some people even advocate that vitamin c supplementation can help ease the effects of early aging (like wrinkles). You would only need a multivitamin for these purposes, not megadoses that people will try selling to you.

Vitamin C Deficiency

Another trick seen in the media is that marketers give you unreliable vitamin C information, claiming that you're not getting enough of it in your diet. You are! In fact, you're probably getting more than you need if you're eating a normal diet (this isn't the same as an overdose).

Vitamin C deficiency has become extremely rare except in major alcoholics. This is only because they don't eat any food; rather their only source of calories comes from the beer, wine and liquor they're drinking. This obviously results in all kinds of deficiencies that we won't get into here.

The major effect of vitamin c deficiency is a condition known as scurvy: a debilitating condition in which connective tissue breaks down and fats are not absorbed in the intestine. Bleeding gums, easy wounding and bruising, hair loss and anemia (loss of red cell volume) are some of the symptoms.

But don't worry, if you ate breakfast this morning, you've probably prevented scurvy. You only need about 5 or 6 mg of vitamin C to prevent scurvy symptoms while most Americans get around 70 mg of the vitamin on average per day.

As a final note, make sure you're getting your vitamin C information, supplements and/or advice from a great source. This also applies for any vitamin since misleading information can cause some serious problems. This page is a great start. Why? Because it's the truth! That's how I roll.

Return from Vitamin C Information to the Nutrition Guide

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