There are good reasons why vitamin C is added to many products and why that’s often a selling point: a powerful and efficient antioxidant, vitamin C kills every virus it has come up against.
Water-soluble, the body doesn’t produce vitamin C but must extract it from food.
It isn’t stored in the body and so maintaining a constant supply is important for maintaining good health.
A deficiency of C can manifest in aches and pain, bleeding gums, fatigue, skin rash, and colds and flu.
How Vitamin C Protects You
The way in which vitamin C fights infection is fairly simple: infections and toxins cause oxidative stress in the body.
Vitamin C is attracted to the cells that have lost their electrons due to the oxidation process and easily gives up its own, which then neutralizes the potentially harmful cells.
With a consistent and healthy antioxidant level, dangerous cells are not allowed to proliferate and we don’t get sick.
Not enough and the result is cell inflammation—rampant inflammation is at the root of almost every serious disease humans experience, affecting every part of the body.
Vitamin C is so good at what it does that studies have found high doses to arrest cancers and heart disease in humans:
“Individuals reporting high intakes of vitamin C exhibited significantly lower risk of death from all causes, particularly from coronary heart disease, over a 10-year follow-up period.”
Sugar and Vitamin C
It is becoming increasingly clear that excess sugar intake is one of the most critical health risks we in North America face. In the vast majority of animals, vitamin C is synthesized from glucose in only four metabolic steps. Hence, the molecular shape of vitamin C is remarkably similar to glucose.
If there is too much sugar in the body, white blood cells (the ones that fight infection) often grab a sugar—rather than a vitamin C—molecule, preventing the important antioxidant from doing what it’s supposed to do. This effect can last several hours after consuming sugar before the body processes the sugar and levels decrease back to normal.
Chronic excess sugar keeps the vitamin C from fighting infection and disease and you are much more likely to get sick in the short term and contract life-threatening disease in the long-term.
How Much Vitamin C Should I Take?
The recommended daily amount of vitamin C for adults is 75-90 milligrams (mg) per day. It’s easy to get your daily vitamin C from food: berries, citrus fruits, kiwi, peppers, broccoli, spinach, cantaloupe, tomatoes, and papaya are all very good sources.
It is possible to have too much vitamin C—keep regular intake under 2000 mg a day. Any vitamin C your body doesn’t use is excreted through urine.
Ascorbic acid is added to processed foods as a stabilizer and natural preservative. Be conscious of foods (especially fruit juices) with added vitamin C; often there is a corresponding high sugar content. Additionally, synthetic vitamins’ potency isn’t the same as those naturally occurring and whole foods are a better source:
“Ascorbic acid when used as a food additive is synthetic. While it has the molecular structure of one component of vitamin C, some claim that it cannot perform the vitamin action of vitamin C, which requires bioflavonoids and other factors. Manufacturers often add ascorbic acid to foods to boost vitamin content, but ascorbic acid is not truly vitamin C and may not perform the beneficial functions of vitamin C in the body.”
Vitamin C is an important nutrient to maintain cell health—make sure you get enough.