Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that plays many roles within the body. We must get our vitamin C from external sources – we cannot produce it within our own bodies. Vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables including oranges, bell peppers, kiwi fruit, spinach, kale and broccoli. The benefits of vitamin C include acting as an antioxidant, supporting the immune system, supporting cardiovascular health and supporting healthy connective tissue. Some people also use vitamin C to induce bowel movements if they are struggling with constipation.
One of vitamin C’s primary benefits is its role as an antioxidant. We know that oxidative stress is a contributing factor to many chronic health issues. The vitamins A, C, E, and the minerals zinc and selenium, act as natural antioxidants. Vitamin C and glutathione are also related in this context, as glutathione recycles vitamins C and E.
Vitamin C is known as a good immune support. My mother used to always make me take this vile vitamin C powder as a child whenever I started getting a cold; and even today I adopt the same strategy (just with a nicer-tasting version!). While the research is mixed as to whether vitamin C can, indeed, prevent colds, it is clear that vitamin C is an immune-booster overall.
Vitamin C boosts the production of immune cells called lymphocytes and phagocytes, thus helping protect the body against infections. It also helps the immune system to function better. Both T-cells and phagocytes can store vitamin C, so a vitamin C deficiency can hamper their function. Being an antioxidant, vitamin C also protects immune cells from free radical damage, and helps reduce inflammation.
Research shows that vitamin C has a positive impact on cardiovascular function. It reduces risk factors including high cholesterol, high LDL levels, high triglycerides; and high blood pressure. Its anti-hypertensive effects come from relaxing the smooth muscle in our blood vessels.
Vitamin C plays a significant role in healthy connective tissue – it contributes to two key enzymes in collagen production. Collagen is a structural component of hair, skin, nails, and bones – so we need adequate vitamin C to create those. Since much of the aging of our skin is due to free radical damage, vitamin C can help to counter age-related changes such as wrinkles and loss of elasticity.
Vitamin C has yet more benefits too, including helping with the absorption of iron in our bodies, and reducing uric acid levels to prevent against gout.
Ways To Get Vitamin C
Dietary sources of vitamin C are mostly focused on fruits and vegetables – for most of us that is our primary source of vitamin C. People who are lacking fruits and vegetables in their diet are at highest risk of deficiency.
Many people choose to supplement with vitamin C to get optimal levels. The recommended daily allowance issued by the health agencies is simply the amount required to prevent deficiency – for many nutrients, higher doses are needed for therapeutic effect.
I recommend taking 500-1000mg daily of vitamin C for maintenance; 1000-3000mg per day during chronic illness which boosts one’s need for the nutrient.
My favorite vitamin C is liposomal. Liposomal means that each molecule is surrounded by a fatty acid layer – it gives it much better absorption across the mucous membranes and into the blood stream and the tissues where it is needed.
I have always loved Researched Nutritionals, and have used their C-RLA Formula for ages. The original flavor was this unusual, but not unpleasant, combination of mint and coffee. I liked it, but it was a little tough to get into kids. But guess what? They just released a CARAMEL-VANILLA flavor … oh boy! It’s delicious, it’s not sickly sweet which was a bit afraid of – it tastes more like caramel than vanilla in my opinion, and to me it’s like a treat. I was SO impressed with it (now if they could only do the same with their glutathione, right?!). But did you know that you can put the caramel-vanilla C-RLA into your liposomal glutathione to sweeten it up a bit? Genius idea!
One of the advantages of liposomal vitamin C is that one can take higher doses without irritating the digestive system, which some forms of vitamin C can. Having said that, and for that reason, the only time I wouldn’t recommend vitamin C is when actually using it as a natural laxative – then you might choose a regular vitamin C.
Some people even do intravenous vitamin C, either as part of a Myer’s cocktail with other vitamins and minerals, or by itself in higher doses. This allows doses of 5-10 grams in the case of Myer’s, or up to 100 grams given by slow drip. High-dose IVC is used as an immune-boosting therapy in Lyme disease, cancer treatment etc.
Vitamin C has lots of benefits for the body. To optimize intake, get plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. If you choose to supplement, consider liposomal vitamin C for its superior absorption.