Vitamin C: What You Probably Don’t Know About It
Want to look like a pirate? Sounds kind of fun at first, but if you don’t get enough vitamin C, you could end up with a pirate look that is way more authentic than you really want. Because everyone knows, severe vitamin C deficiency can cause “that pirate disease”, right?
Okay, so that might seem extreme. In modern times, almost nobody is Vitamin C deficient to that degree. But it IS true that many people are lacking vitamin C.
The sign and symptoms of vitamin C deficiency don’t happen overnight. They build up over time. Some common symptoms are muscle aches, weakness, fatigue, anemia, rashes and bleeding gums.
So, I’m here to help you understand how much vitamin C you need each day and the best way to get it.
Some Good-To-Know Vitamin C Basics
You absolutely need Vitamin C for the development and repair of your body:
- It’s a powerful antioxidant that fights inflammation and free radicals.
- It neutralizes the effects of cancer-causing compounds called carcinogens.
- It helps regulate good and bad cholesterol.
- It helps your body absorb iron and calcium.
Noteworthy Research Studies About Vitamin C
A large research study done at UCLA found that men who took 800 mg of vitamin C per day had less heart disease and lived up to six years longer than those who took the recommended daily allowance (RDA). By the way, that RDA is a paltry 60 milligrams a day.
In other research, high-dose IV-administered vitamin C has been shown to selectively kill cancer cells. A 1996 study of over 11,000 elderly people found that those who took high-potency vitamin C and vitamin E had reduced mortality by 42%.
Sifting Through The “Noise” About Daily Dosage
The question, or even controversy, that continues to surround vitamin C is over how much you should get each day. If you research many of the vitamin “gurus” on the internet, many of them avoid making a recommendation on vitamin C dosage. I think it’s because of this significant difference of opinion on dosage and what seems like valid reasoning about every opinion, even on the extreme ends of the spectrum.
As I said above, the government recommended daily allowance is only 60 mg per day. That is far too low. RDAs are notoriously low and supposedly represent the minimal amount needed to prevent a disease state, not how much you need in order to feel really well and function at a high level.
Why Take Vitamin C In Small Doses
The crux of the issue revolves around how much vitamin C your body can absorb when you consume it. You don’t want to take your entire daily dosage in one serving, because you’ll lose some of it in the uptake. That’s because vitamin C is water soluble, meaning it isn’t stored in your body. Any amount that’s not used right after you consume it gets excreted.
Some research shows that peak vitamin C levels are reached in the blood when taking between 200 and 400 mg at a time. Indeed, you can achieve higher plasma levels of vitamin C by taking it every hour or two, instead of in one large dose. This approach makes further sense when you consider that the gut health of most people is poor, and thus absorption levels are lower than they should be.
So, How Much Vitamin C Should You Get Daily?
While it’s almost always better to get your nutrition from food, vitamin C is one nutrient that you should take in supplement form as well, regardless of how good your diet is.
That means, eat foods that contain vitamin C in addition to taking a supplement. Doing both is the way to go.
An adult should supplement with between 750 and 2000 mg per day split throughout the day, ideally four times in quarter doses. This makes it easier on the gut and improves absorption.
If you get unpleasant gastro-intestinal symptoms, simply reduce your dosage.
The supplement I use for my vitamin C is called Multivitamin and Mineral. It’s very easy on my gut and contains all the vitamin C I need, plus about 30 other nutrients.
Best Foods For Vitamin C
- Fermented vegetables. They are a tremendous source of vitamin C and other nutrition. Fermented vegetables are often missing from western diets, particularly in the United States. Fermented cabbage is especially good – you know it as sauerkraut. It contains up to 20 times the amount of vitamin C as raw or cooked veggies.
- Dark leafy greens. These include kale, spinach, chard, turnip greens and parsley. We often don’t think of these because we’re taught from a young age that citrus fruits are high in vitamin C – which they are, but dark leafy greens come without all the sugar.
- Low glycemic fruits. We’re talking grapefruit, lemons, limes, berries and cherries.
- Other veggies. Red bell peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower.
When it comes to other fruits, they do indeed provide plenty of vitamin C, but also provide a lot of sugar, so eat those in moderation.
Make Good Choices
You can find plenty of good recipes for the foods above on the internet. Just be sure they’re not high in sugar. Look for things like salmon or shellfish topped with fermented cabbage and lemon juice. Or berries and chia seeds over the top of a spinach salad. And for a quick breakfast, make a smoothie with berries and kale and either almond butter or avocado.
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