Vitamin C is also commonly referred to as ascorbic acid. It is a water soluble vitamin, which means that it dissolves in water; any vitamin C that you take in and your body doesn’t need that day washes out in your urine. So it is important to get some vitamin C each day. There are over 30 conditions from asthma to urinary tract infections which are believed to be helped by vitamin C.
How it helps
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which means it can prevent damage to cells caused by substances called free radicals. The body also needs vitamin C to make collagen, an important part of blood vessels, tendons and ligaments. It also plays a role in the production of important chemicals called neurotransmitters, in wound healing and in bone formation. Vitamin C can have an affect in preventing the common cold but it certainly reduces the severity and duration of a cold. Large amounts of vitamin C (e.g. 1 – 8 grams daily) taken at the onset of a cold episode may shorten the duration of illness by up to 23%.
What happens if you don’t get enough?
Vitamin C deficiency can lead to many health problems including:
■ gingivitis (red, swollen gums)
■ bleeding of the gums
■ bruising easily
■ loss of hair and teeth
■ rough, dry, scaly skin
■ slow wound healing
■ swollen, painful joints
■ decreased ability to fight off infections
A severe vitamin C deficiency can lead to scurvy, a disease that causes gums to bleed and become spongy, bleeding under the skin, and extreme weakness. Vitamin C deficiency can be avoided by eating fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C, not smoking, and avoiding exposure to second-hand smoke.
How much (dosage) should you take?
■ 19 years and older: 90 mg per day
■ 14 to 18 years: 75 mg per day
■ 9 to 13 years: 45 mg per day
■ 19 years and older: 75 mg per day
■ 14 to 18 years: 65 mg per day
■ 9 to 14 years: 45 mg per day
■ during pregnancy: 80-85 mg per day
■ while breastfeeding: 115-120 mg per day
What happens if you take too much?
Doses higher than 1 g (1,000 mg) per day may lead to gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea. High doses may affect the body’s ability to absorb iron and may increase the risk of developing kidney stones.
Can drugs interact with it?
Some medicines can lower the body’s ability to absorb vitamin C, such as:
■ birth control pills containing estrogen
■ pain relievers called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs