What Does Vitamin C Do?

Three large oranges

One of the most popular vitamins on the market today is Vitamin C. It’s cheap, it comes in a variety of forms, and it seems to work wonders on any condition.

But you need to learn the facts about Vitamin C before you head off to pick up a bottle. Some of the claims may not be truthful as they seem. However, Vitamin C is still a vitamin your body needs in order to stay healthy, even if it isn’t the wonder drug it’s been made up to be.

What Is Vitamin C and How Much Do You Need?

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is often referred to also as ascorbic acid. This antioxidant was produced in a supplement form as early as 1934, which gives it a long history of helping people with their health.

While this is a vitamin that can be taken in excessive quantities, as the excess will be excreted by the body harmlessly, those who do take too much Vitamin C can find they have stomachaches, diarrhea, and other intestinal discomfort.

Vitamin C Recommended Daily Amount (RDA)

The recommended daily allowance for Vitamin C is 90 mg per day for adult males, but only 75 mg per day for adult females. The highest level that is recommended to be used on a daily basis is 2000 mg.

Vitamin C Deficiency

Those who do not have enough Vitamin C in their diet can be prone to a number of diseases (although this is very rare). Scurvy is the most common effect of a diet that is low in Vitamin C, causing the extremities to be choked with blood which can lead to paralysis and even death. Initial symptoms of scurvy are bleeding gums and liver spots on the skin as well.

There is also recent research that suggests smokers are unable to maintain healthy stores of Vitamin C which can cause them to be more likely to develop cancers later in life.

The Health Benefits of Vitamin C

Vitamin C has been used for a number of different benefits. First of all, since Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant, it is thought that this vitamin can help to protect the body from free radical damage as a result of pollution from other toxic substances. The free radical damage can lead to cancers and to heart disease, but an antioxidant can interrupt the damage process or at least limit its effects on the body.

There is also some debate as to whether Vitamin C can help with curing the common cold. While this is something some people strongly believe in, the current science is refuting this claim. It seems Vitamin C may be effective in terms of boosting the immune system, but not a sure thing when it comes to a common cold.

Many of the case studies, in which Vitamin C was used effectively in preventing a common cold, seem to be anecdotal and possibly the result of the placebo effect.

Vitamin C is effective in helping the body with cellular repair. Each day, our bodies are damaged in some way, but Vitamin C can help to repair the damage before new damage can occur.

Vitamin C also works to help the body take in iron from foods and from supplementation which then helps the red blood cells in the body keep up their function. You will want to always take in iron-heavy foods with something that contains Vitamin C.

Foods Sources of Vitamin C

There are number of natural food sources for Vitamin C. One of the best groups of foods for Vitamin C is the citrus fruits:

  • Grapefruits
  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Limes

Most acidic fruits tend to contain enough for a day’s worth of Vitamin C in just one serving. Many fruit juices are also just as effective in terms of helping you reach your daily RDA of Vitamin C. Red peppers are also a good source of Vitamin C, as is parsley and broccoli. Kiwi fruits are good choices as well, but Brussels sprouts can be as well.

Adding Vitamin C is quite easy when you take a daily multivitamin. Most of these supplements will already contain the required amount, while also balancing your intake of other vitamins. Some people do have troubles taking Vitamin C on an empty stomach, so it may be best to look for a buffered version or take the supplement with food.

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