April 4th is National Vitamin C Day!

Each year this powerhouse vitamin is celebrated for all the ways it benefits our health

What is vitamin C?

Vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning that it dissolves in water and does not get stored in the body. Since we are unable to produce these vitamins, they must be consumed daily.

Sources- Food and supplements

(Source from NIH fact sheet on vitamin C)

Vitamin C is found in many food sources. Probably the most well known is the citrus family. While citrus fruit contain vitamin C, there are many other sources.

Food Milligrams (mg) per serving Percent (%) DV*
Red pepper, sweet, raw, ½ cup 95 106
Orange juice, ¾ cup 93 103
Orange, 1 medium 70 78
Grapefruit juice, ¾ cup 70 78
Kiwifruit, 1 medium 64 71
Green pepper, sweet, raw, ½ cup 60 67
Broccoli, cooked, ½ cup 51 57
Strawberries, fresh, sliced, ½ cup 49 54
Brussels sprouts, cooked, ½ cup 48 53
Grapefruit, ½ medium 39 43
Broccoli, raw, ½ cup 39 43
Tomato juice, ¾ cup 33 37
Cantaloupe, ½ cup 29 32
Cabbage, cooked, ½ cup 28 31
Cauliflower, raw, ½ cup 26 29
Potato, baked, 1 medium 17 19
Tomato, raw, 1 medium 17 19
Spinach, cooked, ½ cup 9 10

 

Other sources include rose hips (made into tea), sauerkraut, and supplements such as sodium ascorbate; calcium ascorbate; other mineral ascorbates; ascorbic acid with bioflavonoids.

A study revealed Liposomal vitamin C  is more bioavailable for the body. Liposomes are tiny, nano-sized bubbles normally made out of sunflower lecithin that mimic the body’s own cell membranes. It is absorbed directly into the cells compared to the bloodstream with supplemental vitamin C.

Health benefits

Increases iron absorption in foods

A recent study concluded that taking supplemental vitamin C with an iron supplement did not increase iron absorption.

Taking supplemental vitamin C along with iron rich non heme (not animal source) foods, such as  dried beans, nuts, grain products increased iron absorption.

However, when food sources of both vitamin C and iron are consumed iron absorption increased.

Vitamin C also:

  • Helps activate B vitamins
  • Is an antioxidant, neutralizing free radicals
  • Modulates natural killer (NK) cells
  • and stimulates immune system,
  • Provides protection against oxidative stress
  • Reduce heavy metal toxicity
  • Production of collagen
  • Aids in wound healing
  • Natural antihistamine
  • Lessens duration of colds
  • Improve insulin resistance and stabilize glucose levels

Dosage

Supplementation should be considered only if you are not able to consume enough vitamin C rich foods. Since there are so many versions of vitamin C on the market the following table, obtained from the NIH should be used as a guide only. Most supplements contain ascorbic acid which as been found to be the purest form.

Age     Male   Female Pregnancy     Lactation

0–6 months   40 mg*         40 mg*                  

7–12 months  50 mg*         50 mg*                  

1–3 years       15 mg 15 mg          

4–8 years       25 mg 25 mg          

9–13 years     45 mg 45 mg          

14–18 years   75 mg 65 mg 80 mg 115 mg

19+ years       90 mg 75 mg 85 mg 120 mg

Smokers        Individuals who smoke require 35 mg/day more vitamin C than nonsmokers.

If taken as a supplement, vitamin C should be taken in the morning or during the day, not at night, especially in people with GERD as this can make symptoms worse.

Vitamin C deficiency

Symptoms of vitamin C deficiency include:

Fatigue, inflammation and/or bleeding of the gums, brittle nails and hair, bruising easily, iron deficient anemia, and joint pain.

Vitamin C deficiency is unusual in developed countries; however some diseases can deplete vitamin C stores and lead to deficiency. Individuals with irritable bowel disease, celiac or other forms of intestinal inflammation are at risk for vitamin C deficiency.

Side effects of vitamin C supplementation

It is almost impossible to get too much vitamin C from diet alone. There are several side effects from taking vitamin C in supplement form. In most cases, excess vitamin C is excreted in urine within 24 hours. Some side effects are:

  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Heartburn
  • Stomach cramps or bloating
  • Headache
  • Skin flushing
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue

Who should not supplement with vitamin C?

Consult with your primary care provider about vitamin C supplementation if:

  • Kidney disease or a history of kidney stones
  • Hereditary iron overload disorder (hematochromatosis)
  • Smoker (may need more than stated dose)

- Brooke Lounsbury, RN

Medical Content Writer

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