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In this article, we are laying down everything you need to know about Vitamin C – one of the most known and important vitamins out there.

What is Vitamin C

Vitamin C is one of nature’s best-known and most talked about elements. But how much do we know about its effects on the body and the importance of taking it every day?

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin known as ascorbic acid. The vitamin molecule is highly unstable and very sensitive to heat, oxygen, and certain metals and compounds (copper, bicarbonate of soda, etc.). The name of the acid was derived from the disease scurvy, which was observed in people who were deficient in vitamin C.

KEY TAKEAWAY
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is sensitive to heat, oxygen, and certain metals.

Vitamin C Foods

Vitamin C is naturally found in a variety of vegetables and fruits, such as peppers, potatoes, broccoli, citrus fruits (orange, mandarins, grapefruit, etc.), strawberries, mulberries, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, green leafy vegetables, blueberries, etc.

These are just a few of the foods with vitamin C. Many plant and single-cell microorganisms can synthesize it from glucose, with the exception of the human body, so daily intake through the diet is considered necessary.

Very often we find herbs rich in vitamin C as well. This category includes acerola, rosehip fruit, hippophae, as well as saffron, turmeric, paprika, cayenne pepper, chili powder. In addition, herbs that we can add to our food every day like Parsley, coriander, thyme, basil, rosemary, rosemary, oregano are rich in vitamin C.

Foods High in Vitamin C

Below is a list of the Top 10 foods and herbs with the most Vitamin C.

FoodServingVitamin CRDA
Acerola Cherry100 grams1678 mg1864% DV
Coriander100 grams567mg630% DV
Rose Hips100 grams426mg473% DV
Guavas100 grams228mg254% DV
Sweet Yellow Peppers100 grams184mg204% DV
Black Currants 100 grams 181mg201% DV
Thyme 100 grams 160mg178% DV
Red Chilies 100 grams 144mg160% DV
Scotch Kale 100 grams 130mg144% DV
Kiwifruit 100 grams 93mg103% DV
*Data from the USDA Food Data Central Repository.

🤨 Hey, where’s Orange? 100 grams of raw Orange has 53.2 mg of vitamin c equivalent of 89% of the Daily Recommended Allowance.

Vitamin C Health Benefits (Backed by Science)

☝ Numbers in brackets are linked to research papers and resources that prove the below statements.

Vitamin C is involved in many functions of the body, such as:

Antioxidant protection

It is one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants. It has the ability to inactivate oxygen-free radicals, protecting cells from oxidative damage. It protects other elements and vitamins from oxidation (e.g. vitamin E). [1]

Because of its powerful antioxidant action, it has been linked to the prevention of many chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular (reducing LDL cholesterol oxidation) [2] [3] and cancer [4] [5] [6].

More specifically, an analysis of 9 studies with a total of 293,172 participants showed that after 10 years, those people who received at least 700 mg of vitamin C daily had a 25% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared to those who did not take a supplement [7].

Very important is the finding of another analysis of 15 studies, where here the participants were eating foods rich in Vitamin C rather than supplements. Again there was a reduction in cardiovascular risk!

In addition, it has been found to be involved in vascular integrity when combined with bioflavonoids. Studies have shown that when we consume more vitamin C, it can lead to an increase in antioxidant levels by up to 30%, which helps our body’s defenses to better fight inflammation. [8]

Vitamin C: Sources, Health Benefits, Deficiency, Side effects, RDA

Boosting the immune system

Studies have shown that ascorbic acid mobilizes and stimulates the activity of white blood cells and is involved in the production of red blood cells. In addition, it is involved in the production of antibodies, helping the body to recover more quickly from viruses, flu, infections, or colds. [9]

In fact, several studies show that taking 1-3 g of vitamin C per day seems to reduce the duration of a cold by 1-1.5 days. [10]

Treatment of allergies

Vitamin C acts as a natural antihistamine. It has the ability to reduce levels of histamine, [11] a hormone that increases in cases of allergic reactions and is responsible for allergic symptoms.

Very often we will see in food supplements vitamin C combined with quercetin, a flavonoid that helps with allergies as it reduces the action of histamine!

Collagen production

Collagen is a connective tissue peptide responsible for the integrity and consistency of the skin. Ascorbic acid is an essential element for collagen production.

Thanks to this property, many have given vitamin C the term “anti-aging vitamin” and it is widely used in skin health supplements as well as in cosmetic anti-aging – anti-wrinkle creams for the face.

☝ RELATED: 17 Best Anti-Aging Supplements

Iron absorption and synthesis of other molecules

The simultaneous intake of vitamin C and iron, especially the non-heme iron found in plant sources, can up to double its absorption.

Consumption of 100 mg of vitamin C can improve iron absorption of Iron by 67%. For this reason, it is useful in people with anemia, but also in vegetarians.

It is also involved in the biosynthesis of neurotransmitters, adrenal hormones, L-carnitine, and protein metabolism. [12]

Vitamin C: Sources, Health Benefits, Deficiency, Side effects, RDA
Vitamin C aids in rapid wound healing.

Wound and wound healing

As it is involved in collagen production, adequate intake of the vitamin contributes to faster healing of wounds and injuries. It helps in tissue growth and repair, improving skin elasticity and consistency.

Oral health

It has been found to help heal oral and gum wounds as well as overall dental health. Vitamin C deficiency leads to bleeding gums, which are restored after taking vitamin C.

Blood pressure

Short-term studies in both healthy and hypertensive adults have shown that vitamin C supplementation can reduce systolic blood pressure by 4.9 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 1.7 mmHg, on average (1). However, it is not clear that these effects last for long, and one should not rely on Vitamin C alone to treat the problem!

KEY TAKEAWAY
Vitamin C provides antioxidant protection, it boosts the immune system, it treats allergies, boosts collagen production, heals wounds faster, treats cardiovascular diseases as well as cancer, helps in the production of other nutrients for the body, helps with iron absorption, keeps oral health well, and regulates blood pressure.

Vitamin C Deficiency

As ascorbic acid is a water-soluble molecule, there is no possibility of storing the vitamin in the body. The result is that a reduced intake of the vitamin leads to the onset of symptoms in as little as one month. The main symptoms are:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Reduced wound healing
  • Atony
  • Collagen suppression of the skin – wrinkles
  • Reduced absorption of other food components
  • Poor quality of scalp

Severe vitamin C deficiency leads to a pathological condition called scurvy, however, it is a relatively rare condition.

Vitamin C Toxicity

Since Vitamin C is not stored in the body, taking the vitamin in large quantities does not have a toxic effect. However, in high doses (overdose) it can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and gastrointestinal disorders.

An upper tolerable daily limit is defined as 2000 mg. People with nephrolithiasis or taking medication for depression should consult their doctor before taking vitamin C.

KEY TAKEAWAY
Vitamin C is not toxic. It is recommended to set a daily cap limit of 2000 mg. In high doses, it can cause diarrhea, nausea, and other gastrointestinal disorders.

Vitamin C For Children

Vitamin C is valuable at all ages. Very often parents rush to boost their child’s immune system with Vitamin C supplements for children.

Significant improvement will be noticed if the child is already deficient in this vitamin, and it should not be forgotten that it does not replace a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables.

Also, it should be taken for a specific period of time after consultation with the pediatrician and not indefinitely.

In general, the supplement is considered safe for children, but care should be taken with the concentration of the vitamin to meet the needs of the age.

Thus, it should not be taken in an amount greater than:

  • 400 mg daily by children 1-3 years of age
  • 650 mg daily for ages 4-8 years
  • 1200 mg daily for ages 9-13 years
  • 1800 mg daily for adolescents 14-18 years

KEY TAKEAWAY
Vitamin C for children should be taken for a specific period of time and not indefinitely. Also, it should not be forgotten that Vitamin C does not replace a healthy diet filled with fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin C for Pregnancy

The presence of vitamin C in the pregnant woman’s diet is necessary for both tissue repair and wound healing. Furthermore, it is involved in many metabolic processes occurring in the body of the pregnant woman and the fetus.

In more detail:

  • Lack of vitamin C from the pregnant woman’s diet has been linked to the risk of pre-eclampsia. [13]
  • It is involved in the development of the fetus and the formation of its bones and teeth.
  • It increases the absorption of iron, large amounts of which are necessary for the blood supply to the fetus, and for a pregnant woman’s own increased needs.
  • The antioxidant properties of vitamin C protect mom and baby from toxins and infections.
  • It is important for the production of collagen, the building protein of bones, tendons, and skin
  • Contributes to rapid wound healing
  • Helps the pregnant’s body to absorb iron better
  • Good for hair and nails
  • Helps in the treatment of constipation some pregnant women may feel.

Vitamin C Dosage & RDA

The intake of vitamin C should be daily and should be ensured either through the diet or through dietary supplements.

The daily recommended dose for male adults is 90mg and 75mg for women adults. People who smoke, due to high oxidative stress, need to take about 35mg of extra vitamin C daily to meet their needs [14].

Here’s a handy table with the daily recommended dose of vitamin c for women, men and children.

AgeMaleFemalePregnancyLactation
0–6 months40 mg 40 mg
7–12 months50 mg 50 mg
1–3 years15 mg 15 mg
4–8 years25 mg 25 mg
9–13 years45 mg 45 mg
14–18 years75 mg 65 mg 80 mg115 mg
19+ years90 mg 75 mg 85 mg120 mg
source: National Institutes of Health

Vitamin C before or After Eating?

In general, there is no evidence that vitamin C should be consumed at a specific time in relation to food. However, now many experts recommend that supplements as a whole should be taken after eating in order to avoid stomach irritation.

Those who want to increase iron absorption are advised to take it alongside iron-rich foods or an iron supplement. There is also evidence that calcium may slightly reduce its absorption by the body.

KEY TAKEAWAY
There is no evidence that vitamin C should be consumed at a specific time in relation to food

How long can I take vitamin C?

This is a question that swirls around in our minds when we start taking vitamin C in supplementation. Nowadays the general guideline for supplements is that these can be taken for 3 consecutive months followed by a pause for at least a month.

It should be kept in mind that the supplement benefits someone who is already deficient in that particular component, otherwise the greater amount will be excreted in the urine.

KEY TAKEAWAY
Supplements should be taken for 3 consecutive months and paused for at least a month before starting a new round of supplementation.

Vitamin C Absorption

There is a wide variety of vitamin C supplements commercially available and in different forms, such as tablets, effervescent tablets, powder, or chewable tablets for children.

We often wonder which is the best vitamin C! In nature as in the majority of supplements it is found as ascorbic acid. However, as the acid often causes stomach upset, it is also available in an esterified form (e.g. calcium ascorbate).

The esterified form is more friendly to people with stomach ulcers or gastrointestinal sensitivity. In addition, it ensures much faster and better absorption of the vitamin by the body (bioavailability) while remaining in the bloodstream for a longer period of time than simple ascorbic acid.

In recent years, liposomal vitamin C has also emerged, where the active substance is transported through liposomes into cells more directly and easily, as it is a chemical structure that is more easily recognized by the cell membrane.

Another indication that you can spot in various supplements is “slow-release vitamin C“, where the substance is gradually released into the body, thus ensuring a supply of it for longer hours!

There is a wide variety of vitamin concentrations in commercial supplements ranging from 100 to 1500mg per serving. To maximize its action it is often combined with quercetin, zinc, and bioflavonoids in general.

Natural sources of vitamin C in supplements are usually wild rose extract (rose hips) or wild cherry fruit extract (acerola), otherwise, it is a synthetic form.

KEY TAKEAWAY
The main forms of Vitamin C are esterified, Liposomal, and slow-releasing Vitamin C.
Natural Sources of Vitamin C are usually Rose hips and Acerola. All other supplements include synthetic Vitamin C.

Best Vitamin C Supplements

Below are some of the best Vitamin C Supplements in the market.

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