Vitamin C is a remarkable nutrient: you can’t be healthy without it. Your body can’t make or store it, so you must obtain it from fresh foods or from a good supplement every day.
Without Vitamin C, your health would quickly deteriorate.
This happened historically when a lack fresh food was common, especially for the poor. It’s estimated that two million sailors died from a lack of Vitamin C—which causes the devastating illness, scurvy—during the Age of Sail. For centuries, no one knew what caused sailors’ illnesses. Finally, when foods containing Vitamin C were added to sailors’ diets, scurvy faded into history. (1)
The primary symptoms of scurvy (10) include impaired immunity as well as a general inability of your body to repair itself and to maintain good health. Impaired immunity leaves the body open to illnesses—some of these, like pneumonia, can be fatal.
Vitamin C in a nutshell: people need an adequate daily intake for good health
Although you don’t need much of this nutrient, a daily intake of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) keeps you healthy.
It’s a water soluble vitamin: this means that your body eliminates what it can’t immediately use.
When you’re stressed, you need more.
(2) Just some of the things Vitamin C does:
- Maintains the health of your skin and connective tissue, so that wounds heal more quickly and you maintain good skin and general bodily health.
- Helps to prevent infections.
- Makes it easier to absorb iron (for your blood) from the food you eat.
Many fruits and vegetables contain Vitamin C. These include citrus fruits, such as limes and lemons, as well as vegetables like tomatoes, broccoli and capsicum.
Who benefits from adding Vitamin C to their daily diet?
Everyone needs an adequate supply of Vitamin C every day, from unborn babies to seniors. It’s essential to both maintaining health and to guard against pathogens.
Pregnant and nursing mothers can benefit (3). It’s believed that an insufficient intake in pregnancy could lead to complications.
For babies, Vitamin C is available in breast milk. A research study showed that an increased intake of Vitamin C in the mother can be measured in breast milk in less than an hour.
When fresh food is plentiful, easy to afford and regularly incorporated into your diet, Vitamin C deficiency is rare in developed countries. (5) In children, as in adults, the primary sign of insufficient Vitamin C is scurvy.
If your child won’t eat vegetables and ignores fruit, you may be concerned. Discuss with your doctor. A Vitamin C supplement may be recommended.
Adults who work hard and miss meals may be susceptible to inadequate amounts of Vitamin C. Although it’s best to eat fresh veggies each day, a supplement can help, especially if you’re under a lot of stress.
If you find that your skin is dry and you bruise easily, this could also be a sign of a Vitamin C deficiency (6), but always be guided by your doctor or health care professional. These symptoms are common in several illnesses.
What about the elderly? Since the immune system weakens with age, it’s important for seniors to eat fresh food. Seniors who neglect their diet may suffer from inadequate Vitamin C intake or deficiency. Again, skin dryness and easy bruising may be a symptom, but a health worker’s advice is essential.
The benefits of Vitamin C for good health
There are many hard-to-prove claims for the benefits of Vitamin C for adults and children.
However, it is recognised as performing a vital role in many of your body’s systems, as well as offering an improved immune response. In addition, it’s proven over many years that any lack of Vitamin C quickly leads to ill health.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of a good intake of Vitamin C each day (8). The biggest benefits include:
- Enhanced antioxidant activity to assist the body in protecting as well as repairing tissues.
- An enhanced immune function. (10)
- Improved ability to handle and manage stress.
Skin and general health: Vitamin C has antioxidant properties
Vitamin C is believed to have antioxidant properties; that is, it helps prevent oxidation. (10)
As a constant process, oxidation leads to the growth of free radicals, which are believed to be involved in cell damage, leading to illness. It’s also believed that oxidation is involved in the effects of aging.
Vitamin C’s involvement in skin health is especially important (10). Studies suggest that it can strengthen your skin by aiding its fight against internal as well as environmental oxidative stress.
Vitamin C offers an enhanced immune function
Your immune system consists of a huge body-wide network of special tissues, organs and cells.
Over 50 years of research has shown that Vitamin C plays an important role in helping to maintain your body’s immune function. (10)
Stressed? Vitamin C may reduce the effects of stress
A study showed that not only did people who had a good daily intake of Vitamin C bounce back easily from stressful situations, they showed fewer signs of stress. (14)
In animal studies, consistent research shows that Vitamin C prevents the secretion of cortisol in stressed animals. (Adrenal glands release cortisol in response to stress.)
Research seems to imply frequent releases of cortisol in humans leads to exhaustion. Not only does the cortisol impair thinking and learning, it can also lead to depression.
An additional benefit of Vitamin C for stress is that it helps to regulate glucose and insulin in your body, which helps to combat the tiredness caused by sudden spikes and drops in blood sugar.
How much Vitamin C do you and your family need every day?
Considering the many aspects that Vitamin C is involved in for good health, your daily requirements are minimal.
A suggested minimum intake for adult men and women is 45 mg per day. (11) However, this is the minimum requirement. For good health, and if you’re ill, or stressed, or lacking sufficient quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables containing Vitamin C, you could need much more.
Everyone is different, so if in doubt, ask your doctor or health care professional to recommend the daily allowance best for your current state of health and considering any medications you’re taking.
Water-soluble, any Vitamin C your body can’t use will be cleansed by your kidneys and washed away. However, a high intake can cause side effects and super-high doses can be dangerous.
The effects of too much Vitamin C can include gastrointestinal problems such as abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Always be advised by your doctor: take advice before taking high daily doses of Vitamin C.
Eat a varied diet to ensure a good intake of Vitamin C each day
With five servings of fresh veggies and fruit each day you’re sure to be getting sufficient Vitamin C. Oranges, papaya and strawberries are particularly high in Vitamin C, as are red and green capsicum. However, even the humble potato contains some Vitamin C.
Aim for a varied diet. In addition, be aware that long cooking times can destroy Vitamin C. So when you’re preparing vegetables, consider steaming and stir-frying, rather than boiling them, and where possible, fresh and raw is even better.
Pure Plant-Source ORGANIC GreenVitamin C: a great supplemental source of Vitamin C
If you know you’re not getting enough Vitamin C, consider supplementing your intake with a natural, non-synthetic option.
Although you have many options when you’re considering a supplement, Green Nutritional’s Pure Plant-Source Organic GreenVitamin C stands out. It’s derived from certified organically grown ingredients, including organic acerola and baobab and offers 600 mg of natural vitamin C per serve.
Acerola (Barbados cherry) is a flowering shrub rich in Vitamin C as well as Vitamin A and several B vitamins as well.
Like acerola, baobab is rich in Vitamin C and can help to regulate blood sugar levels.
Available in both powder and vegan capsule form, Pure Plant-Source ORGANIC GreenVitamin C is suitable for both vegans and vegetarians and is free from synthetic ascorbic acid.
Green Nutritional uses its unique LOCTEC™ Nutrient Protection Technology to protect your organic Vitamin C supplement to safeguard and maintain its quality.
References and resources: Pure Plant-Source ORGANIC GreenVitamin C
(1) Lack of Vitamin C and scurvy. Scurvy: How a Surgeon, a Mariner, and a Gentleman Solved the Greatest Medical Mystery of the Age of Sail.
(2) Vitamin C page from Health Direct.
(11) Recommendations for daily Vitamin C intake.
(12) Side effects.
(13) Best food sources.
(14) Vitamin C to reduce stress.