What is it?
Vitamin C is the body’s most important antioxidant and is therefore critical to proper immune function; it can help protect against heart disease and may alleviate the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. Being a water soluble vitamin it means that your body cannot store vitamin C and will excrete any excess that is not needed at the time.
|Function||How it helps|
|Immune Support||Boosts white blood cell function, antibody and interferon production (interferon is a protein that defends cells from invasion). Taking vitamin C reduces the severity and duration of cold symptoms.|
|Antioxidant and Cell Protection||Provides protection against degenerative diseases. Reduces the incidence of abnormal cells and cellular damage by free radicals.|
|Detoxification||Aids in detoxification and/or neutralisation of many harmful compounds, which explains why vitamin C is used up so rapidly in smokers.|
|Anti-Allergic||Lowers Histamine levels (chemical associated with many allergic symptoms), makes it useful in the prevention and treatment of allergic conditions such as hayfever, asthma, eczema, hives etc.|
|Cardiovacsular Support||Vitamin C raises HDL levels and helps the removal of LDL from arteries. It can lower blood pressure, triglyceride levels and inhibit glycation (where blood sugar damages arterial tissue, common in diabetics).|
|Synthesis of Connective Tissue||Required for the production of many essential compounds including collagen in muscles, skin and blood vessels.|
What is it used for? (NB these uses are not all supported by scientific evidence)
|the common cold||low sperm coun||pre-eclampsia|
|pneumonia||age-related macular degeneration||asthma|
|heart disease||AIDS||altitude sickness|
Best food sources
|Scurvy||Poor wound healing||Muscle degeneration|
|Atherosclerosis||Fatigue||Loss of teeth|
|Spongy, bleeding gums||Bruising||Frequent colds and infections|
Supplementation dosage range
There has been long debate about how much is needed by the human body.
In the UK the Food Standards Agency stipulate the RDA to be 60mg for a healthy adult and that pregnant women, smokers and heavy drinkers need more. This level was determined in the mid-19th century being the amount needed to prevent a deficiency disease such as scurvy. There has been much evidence produced since which shows that much higher doses are both safe and important if optimal health is to be achieved. In the United States the RDA is 90mg per day for an adult male and 75mg for an adult female. The safe upper limit being set at 2000mg per day.
Alternative recommendations by independent researchers indicate that much higher levels are required by the human body to achieve optimum health rather than simply avoiding a deficiency disease. These levels are based upon the amount needed for an adult human to achieve similar blood serum levels as vitamin C synthesising mammals. For example, the Linus Pauling Institute suggest 400mg per day whilst the Vitamin C Foundation indicate that 3,000mg per day is desirable for a healthy adult (or up to 30,000mg per day during illness). Some organisations (such as the Cathcart/Levy cure for infectious diseases) indicate that for disease control, doses need to be in the range of 20,000 – 300,000mg per day).
It seems that a dose 1000mg vitamin C per day will help deliver the amount of vitamin C required and. if you are recovering from an infection or live in a polluted urban area, you may wish to consider taking 2-3,000mg per day.
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for humans and some other higher primate species because they have lost the ability to produce it themselves. Most other animals produce their own vitamin C and it is this fact that provides the rationale for increasing the daily amount of vitamin C.
Generally there are no side effects, however if you take high doses (e.g. 6g plus) you may experience nausea and diarrhoea.
High doses may deplete copper form the body, in which case a regular multimineral supplement that contains copper should suffice.
Choose a low acid or non-acidic form e.g. Calcium Ascorbate, or Ester C, to avoid abdominal discomfort.
Consult a doctor or registered naturopath before taking vitamin C supplements if you have these disorders: Iron overload, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency or kidney problems.
|Factors which deplete levels, impair absorption and/or inhibit activity:|
|Smoking||Certain antibiotics (tetracyclines, sulfa drugs)||Indomethacin|
|Stress||Exposure to pollution||Infection|