What is Vitamin C? Why We Need Vitamin C
A healthy lifestyle seems to be an ever-elusive goal in modern-day living. Between work, our social and family lives there is too much to do and not enough time. So much so that important self-care matters like maintaining a well-balanced diet often slip through the cracks.
When we do not have well-balanced meals, we miss out on essential nutrients such as Vitamin C also known as ascorbic acid. This antioxidant nutrient is found in citrus fruits and vegetables like bell peppers. It is vital in keeping your immunity in check and plays a great role in your overall wellness.
Citrus fruits contain high levels of ascorbic acid
In this article, we delve into all things ascorbic acid. What exactly is Vitamin C? What is Vitamin C good for, and more importantly, how do you avoid having a Vitamin C deficiency? Read on.
Why Do We Need Vitamin C?
Vitamin C plays numerous essential roles in your body. They include:
1. Wound Healing
When you are injured, a wound forms due to your skin tissue being pierced or torn. For the wound to heal, new connective tissue has to be formed to 'close' the wound.
Collagen is a complex protein. It is the main ingredient used to form connective tissue such as that should be regenerated to help a wound heal. It is made up of two smaller proteins: lysine and proline.
When you are injured, Vitamin C activates both proline and lysine to form good-quality collagen. This collagen is used by your body to regenerate new tissue and helps your wound heal with ease. Moreover, the new scar tissue that forms over your wound keeps it covered and helps prevent infections caused by germs coming into contact with the wound.
However, if you are Vitamin C-deficient, there would not be enough of it to activate the proline and the lysine proteins to form collagen. Consequently, it may take longer for your wound to heal. The new tissue formed may also be weak because the proteins used to regenerate it would not have been fully activated.
This prolonged healing process may make you susceptible to infections at the site of the wound. Bleeding may occur as well due to blood vessels remaining exposed without the formation of scar tissue.
2. Immunity and Anti-oxidizing Properties
Oxidants, also known as free radicals, occur in the body due to a variety of causes. Sometimes it is due to chemicals that we are exposed to, apply on our bodies, or ingest from different products. A good example of this would be smoking or working in an environment where you are exposed to a lot of smoke.
Regardless of how you are exposed to them, with time, oxidants accumulate in your body cells. If they become too many, this can cause oxidative stress. This is a situation where the free radicals (oxidants) are more than the antioxidants in your body cells and can not be eliminated fully.
When free radicals are not eliminated from your body they begin to break down healthy protein and fatty tissue. In essence, they can damage healthy cells in your body and lead to cancer, autoimmune diseases, among other health complications.
Vitamin C is rich in antioxidants. Hence, eating Vitamin C foods such as citrus fruits helps boost the level of antioxidants in your body. This goes a long way in flushing out free radicals. Your red blood cells are thus able to thrive and sustain your blood health while oxidant-free white blood cells ensure your immunity is intact.
3. Reduce the Duration of the Common Cold
The common cold is a viral infection and hence doctors only recommend management of the symptoms as there is no definitive cure. That said, the severity of symptoms you experience depends on how well and how quickly your body is able to fight the common cold.
Vitamin C is not a cure nor has it been proven to prevent the common cold. However, research findings indicate that it can shorten the duration of a cold. In some cases, it also helped reduce the severity of the cold symptoms. This can be attributed to:
- The antioxidant properties of ascorbic acid
- The immunity-boosting effect of ascorbic acid helping your body fight the cold
In light of this, it is advisable to maintain a diet rich in Vitamin C or take a Vitamin C supplement regularly. This would help your body cope with the common cold better than if you were Vitamin-C-deficient.
4. Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease occurs when your teeth gums are infected by bacteria. When it is not noticed and treated with suitable antibiotics early enough, it can progress and lead to infection of the jaw bone. Jaw bone infection can in turn lead to more complex infections in organs like your heart.
The best way to avoid periodontal disease is by maintaining proper oral hygiene. However, you will inevitably have some bacteria in your mouth due to regular eating and drinking. So, how do you help your body fight such bacteria and prevent them from progressing into an infection?
Vitamin C's ability to fight off free radicals in your body makes it fundamental in warding off periodontal disease. When coupled with oral hygiene, it works to keep common oral bacteria in check and prevent infections.
Patients with a Vitamin C deficiency are likely to exhibit frequent periodontal infections and bleeding gums. Adhering to the recommended intake of Vitamin C by eating right or taking dietary supplements is, therefore, crucial. You may particularly wish to take note of this if you suffer from or have a family history of diseases such as diabetes and heart ailments. They can be triggered or exacerbated by advanced periodontal disease.
4. Iron Absorption
Hemoglobin is a component of blood that is used to transport oxygen to different organs in your body. It is made using iron that your body absorbs from iron supplements or foods such as liver. Iron is equally crucial in the formation of some hormones.
Your body may have a hard time absorbing iron properly due to factors such as caffeine or minerals like calcium. This may cause you to become anemic and suffer symptoms such as:
- Low energy
- Dizzy spells
- Difficulty focusing on tasks
- Reproductive health complications in women
Ascorbic acid can be used to boost the absorption of iron in your body. More so from iron-rich plant foods such as vegetables and beans. As these foods get digested, sometimes the iron molecules can be insoluble in the various pH conditions of the digestive system. Ascorbic acid bonds with the iron molecules and forms soluble molecules that are easier for the cells in your body to absorb.
Alternatively, it could be that you are suffering from poor iron absorption due to inhibiting factors such as calcium in your cells. In such situations, the antioxidant effect of ascorbic acid comes into play. It flushes out the inhibiting factors and makes cells healthy enough to absorb iron molecules as they should.
What If I Do Not Get Enough Vitamin C?
Vitamin deficiencies attack your health quietly. You may describe it as 'feeling off' or a feeling of general malaise that you are not able to shake off. It is best to always seek the guidance of your physician when you feel this way. They would then run tests and ascertain the cause of your malaise.
Nevertheless, it is helpful to know some key symptoms to look out for. Understanding the effects of a Vitamin C deficiency could also help you appreciate the importance of adhering to the recommended level of consumption. With that being said, let us examine some tell-tale signs of insufficient Vitamin C in your body.
Scurvy usually presents as oral gum problems because you do not have enough Vitamin C to combat inflammation. You may notice that your gums bleed easily as you brush your teeth or that they become sore rather frequently. In some cases, this may be accompanied by pain and or the falling out of teeth.
Prolonged Wound Healing Durations
Are your wounds taking longer than usual to form scar tissue? Do they take even longer to fully heal? It could also be that you bruise quite easily and are more prone to inflammation. All these are classic signs that you are low on Vitamin C. Your body, therefore, has a hard time mending injuries as there is not enough ascorbic acid to hasten the formation of new tissue.
The human body is exposed to lots of bacteria and viruses everywhere we turn. The reason why you may not constantly get sick is that your immune system successfully fights off most disease-causing germs. However, if you are getting frequent infections despite proper self-care and hygiene, your white blood cells may be in oxidative shock and not able to ward off infections. This is consistent with a Vitamin C deficiency.
When your cells are filled with free radicals(oxidants) they have a hard time generating energy or functioning optimally. This leads to low energy and lots of fatigue. Barring any other conditions, you probably need more Vitamin C as its antioxidant properties would flush out the free radicals.
Research indicates that low levels of Vitamin C can mimic symptoms of depression. This is mostly because an ascorbic acid deficiency can cause a major dip in energy levels. Subsequently, you may feel unmotivated to take part even in activities that you ordinarily enjoy all of which is consistent with depression.
Recommended Dietary Sources of Vitamin C
Eating foods high in Vitamin C is a great way to ensure that your body has all the ascorbic acid it needs. The trick, however, lies in knowing exactly which foods to go for. Here are a few to get you started.
Red Bell Peppers
Raw red bell peppers are rich in ascorbic acid
Half a cup of raw red bell pepper contains 95 mg of Vitamin C. You can use this vegetable to make salads or include it when making sandwiches.
A serving of oranges delivers a high boost of Vitamin C
A typical orange contains 70 mg of Vitamin C. The best part is you can eat it whole or juice it. Although juicing robs you of the fiber content, it may be helpful with children and still delivers a good boost of Vitamin C.
Kiwi contains high ascorbic acid levels and can be eaten whole or blended
A typical Kiwi fruit contains 64 mg of Vitamin C. It can be consumed on its own, as part of a fruit salad, or can be blended into a smoothie.
These are only highlights of foods that are rich in ascorbic acid. If none of them appeal to you, you can always explore options such as:
- Tomato juice
- Green peppers
It is also important to mention that how you prepare vegetables affects how much Vitamin C they offer you. Avoid prolonged boiling as it causes veggies to lose as much as half of their Vitamin C content. Quick blanching or a light stir fry might be a better compromise but ultimately, whenever possible, raw vegetables are best.
What is the Recommended Intake of Vitamin C?
The Recommended Dietary Allowance(RDA) of Vitamin C is 90mg per day for adult men and 75mg per day for adult women. These recommended allowances can be increased or decreased by your physician due to special circumstances.
For example, if you are a smoker or a factory worker, you are exposed to a high level of oxidants. Your RDA may, therefore, be increased as you require a higher supply of antioxidants to protect your cells from oxidative stress. On the other hand, some medications may require your RDA of Vitamin C to be reduced for them to work optimally or to avoid counteractions.
A balanced diet that includes carbohydrates, proteins, vegetables, and fruit should be enough to help you meet your Vitamin C RDA. Keep in mind that the human body does not produce or store Vitamin C, you need to consistently ingest it. As such, if you are having a hard time maintaining a balanced diet, consult your physician about taking a Vitamin C supplement.
Vitamin C/ascorbic acid supplements are typically formulated in variations of 500mg or 1000mg. While these doses are above the Recommended Dietary Allowances we have discussed, they are still safe to consume. However, adults should never take more than 2,000mg of Vitamin C in a day.
What Happens If I Take Too Much Vitamin C?
Due to the benefits associated with Vitamin C, it is a common misconception that taking more of it may yield better results. This is untrue. Your body will only absorb the amount of Vitamin C it requires from the foods or supplements that you take. The rest will be flushed out of your system as urine.
Further, if you exceed the medically recommended limit of 2,000mg, you will likely suffer some Vitamin C side effects. They include:
- Stomach aches
- Difficulty falling asleep or relaxing
Too much Vitamin C can cause stomach upsets
If you suffer from diseases such as kidney impairment or more complex illnesses such as cancer it is equally critical that you take only as much Vitamin C as directed by your physician. The consequences of exceeding such limits can interfere with your treatment regimen or turn out to be life-threatening.
The takeaway here is that it is important to seek medical attention once you realize that you have taken too much Vitamin C. Also, try and set a reminder or have a regular time at which you take your ascorbic acid supplement. This could greatly avoid memory slips that could make you take more tablets than you should.
Our Choice of Best Vitamin C Supplements to Buy in Malaysia
There are endless options of Vitamin C supplement brands in the market. Still, they are not all made equal and some will serve you better than others. With this in mind, we have compiled a shortlist of our best Vitamin C supplement brands that deliver great results.
Flavettes Effervescent Vitamin C 1000mg 15s
Adults can tolerate high dosage Vitamin C supplements better
Flavettes Effervescent Vitamin C is a pack of 1000mg tablets that dissolve in water to make a refreshing orange-flavored drink. It contains ascorbic acid and calcium formulated to boost your immunity and get rid of oxidants in your body. It is suitable for adults who are not restricted from taking high dosage Vitamin C.
Healthy Care Vitamin C 500mg
500mg Vitamin C tablets are effective in boosting adult immunity
Healthy Care Vitamin C is a pack of 500mg chewable tablets. It would be ideal if you would like to supplement your ascorbic acid levels but require or prefer a low dosage. Nevertheless, do not underestimate it due to its low dosage. It still delivers all the great benefits of ascorbic acid including resilience against flu, healthier skin, and better immunity, among others.
Champs Vitamin C 30mg Orange
Low dose flavored Vitamin C tablets are ideal for kids
Children require the same nutrients as adults. However, their developing bodies can only process small amounts of such nutrients. This is why Champs Vitamin C 30mg is a great Vitamin C supplement option for kids. It not only tastes great but also has ascorbic acid levels that are within the recommended dietary allowance for children. It is suitable for children between the ages of 1 to 12.
Frequently Asked Questions on Vitamin C
Can You Take Too Much Vitamin C?
Yes. Taking more than 2,000mg of Vitamin C in a day is considered an overdose and can cause significant side effects. If your doctor has set a different maximum limit for you, it is also advisable that you stick to it. Taking more than your prescribed limit is also considered as taking too much Vitamin C.
It is best to seek medical attention should you exceed the recommended limits.
Why Do Smokers Need More Vitamin C?
Smoking causes the formation of free radical molecules in the body. These molecules, also known as oxidants, can cause cancer, hardening of blood vessels (arteriosclerosis), diabetes among other illnesses. Smokers thus require more Vitamin C because it has antioxidant capabilities and helps get rid of the free radical molecules in their body cells.
Which Fruit Has the Most Vitamin C?
Guavas. A cup of guava contains about 377 mg of Vitamin C.
How Much Vitamin C Should I Take?
An adult male requires about 90 mg of Vitamin C in a day while a female adult requires 75 mg of Vitamin C in a day. If you are a smoker your recommended dietary allowance for Vitamin C is 125mg or 110mg per day for a man and a woman respectively. These stipulations refer mostly to dietary consumption.
If you are taking a Vitamin C supplement, doctors recommend that you do not exceed 2,000mg a day.
Where possible it is important that you commit to taking your recommended dietary allowance of ascorbic acid every day. Nevertheless, if you are not able to, it is advisable to take a daily Vitamin C supplement rather than suffer the effects of a deficiency.
At iPharmaHome, we stock numerous Vitamin C supplements from the best Vitamin C brands in Malaysia. Our products are authentic and affordably priced to keep them accessible to our customers.
Do visit our website to find the right Vitamin C supplement for your needs. We have something for everyone.