So, how much vitamin C do you make each day? No, go on have a guess, I’ll wait… 🙂
Nothing. Zip. Zilch.
We are one of the few mammals that doesn’t have the ability to make our own vitamin C. Therefore, we have to get it through our diet. This could be considered an evolutionary error or it could be that once upon a millennia we ate a sufficient quantity to mean that production become unnecessary. Either way, we don’t produce it now and if we don’t get it, we get ill. Badly.
Vitamin C is not just going to to stop you from getting a cold or scurvy. In fact research has shown that people who took daily vitamin C supplements were no less susceptible to getting colds than their non-supplement taking cohorts. What was discovered though was that these people who did suffered fewer cold symptoms, got better more quickly and had less, if any, time off work.
However the bigger factor here with vitamin c (ascorbic acid) is that it is absolutely necessary for the function of the following:
- production of collagen, the structural part of blood vessels, ligaments and tendons and bone.
- neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine for good brain function (mood).
- a very useful little molecule that helps transport fat into mitochondria in cells to be converted to energy.
- to convert cholesterol to bile.
- to detoxify the body from pollutants like pesticides, smoke, fumes, pharmaceutical drugs etc.
Vitamin C has been shown to help the prevention of:
- scurvy — not a common problem now, but a fatal condition nonetheless in people who are consistently taking inadequate supplies.
- coronary heart disease — research has shown that low or inadequate intake is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
- stroke — further research has shown that those people who consumed vegetables 6 or 7 days of the week had a 54% reduced risk of stroke that those who ate them 0-2 times a week.
- cancer — this is a huge area, but some research has shown that increased vitamin C has shown to reduce the prevalence of specifically oral cancers. Also some further research with huge intravenous vitamin C injections has shown to prolong survival in some cancer patients.
As well as:
- high blood pressure
- diabetes mellitus
The Reference Nutrient Intake is set at 40mg of vitamin C for normal healthy people to stay healthy That’s equivalent to about half a grapefruit (if it’s fresh and not been hanging around from harvesting to eating). This might just keep you clear of scurvy…not really getting you into tip top health is it?!
In many of those research papers for analysing disease prevention and reversing illness consumption was higher, in the region of 400-500mg a day. Further research has shown that we can tolerate significant levels of vitamin C if we’re nutritionally depleted, very stressed (stress depletes your vitamin C supply) ill or exercising hard.
Therefore upto 2g a day is accepted as being a tolerable amount for most people when comprised of fresh vegetables, salads and fruit alongside a supplement of 1 or 2 x 1g supplements a day.
Symptoms of excess are likely to be stomach problem like diarrhea and gastrointestinal problems. By stopping the supplementation will stop these symptoms before restarting with a lower amount. This is rarely seen at this level though and significantly higher doses have been given to people with no negative effects.
Vitamin C really is a fantastic vitamin for reasons that many aren’t aware of. So, get your green veggies, tomatoes, peppers, citrus fruits, strawberries, spinach, guavas, watercress and cauliflower and get ’em in ya, every day!
Interesting fact (1)
We’re told to ingest 40mg a day to stay healthy. A goat will produce 13,000mg of ascorbic acid a day. When under stress that it increased even more!
Interesting fact (2)
The other mammals that can’t make their own vitamin C are the guinea pig, the fruit bat, the capybara and a couple of other primates.
© Justin Smith / Wikimedia Commons, CC-By-SA-3.0