What is Vitamin C?
Also known as ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in vegetables and fruits. This essential nutrient is required for producing collagen, generating certain neurotransmitters, and metabolizing protein. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant that helps prevent or delay the development of diseases that cause oxidative stress such as cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. In addition to its biosynthetic and antioxidant roles, Vitamin C is important for immunity and helping the body absorb iron present in plant-based foods.
Symptoms of Vitamin C deficiency may not occur for several months after an individual’s intake drops. An insufficient intake of the vegetables and fruits result in a disease called scurvy which is characterized by fatigue, weakness, bruising, and bleeding gums. Science is also showing that low concentrations of vitamins, including Vitamin C, are prevalent amongst obese people.
Why is Vitamin C Deficiency More Prevalent in Obese People?
Obese people, those with a body mass index (BMI) of 30+, are at a higher risk for health problems such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, gallbladder disease, inflammatory disease, and cancer. The comorbidity of obesity and one of these other chronic diseases contributes to unbalanced oxidative stress. Vitamin C is depleted in the body from oxidative stress.
In particular, the risk of cardiovascular disease is 104 percent higher in obese people than individuals with a lower BMIs. Someone who is obese is more likely to develop high blood pressure, elevated levels of triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein or LDL (bad cholesterol), and low levels of high-density lipoprotein or HDL (good cholesterol). Excess body fat, especially in the abdominal region, contributes to inflammation and constriction of the blood vessels. Studies have shown that an intake of Vitamin C improves blood vessel constriction just like exercise would.
How Vitamin C Benefits Obese People?
An interesting approach to counteracting the complications of obesity is treating the condition, as well as any comorbid conditions, with Vitamin C. According to studies, Vitamin C benefits obesity-related mechanisms due to its power antioxidant properties as follows.
- Modulate adipocyte lipolysis
- Regulate the glucocorticoid release from adrenal glands
- Inhibit glucose metabolism and leptin secretion on isolated adipocytes
- Lead to an improvement in hyperglycemia and decrease glycosylation in obese-diabetic individuals
- Reduce inflammatory response
Are there Other Benefits of Vitamin C?
Vitamin C plays many important roles in the body to keep you healthy. Following are some of the critical points.
Improvement in Immune Health
Well-known for its ability to improve immune health, Vitamin C is often used as a first line of defense during cold and flu season. Supplementation of Vitamin C was found to improve the immune system such as antimicrobial and natural killer cell activities, lymphocyte proliferation, chemotaxis, and delayed-type hypersensitivity. In addition to colds and flus, Vitamin C has been shown to improve the incidence and outcome of severe illnesses like pneumonia, malaria, and diarrhea infections.
Better Iron Absorption for Anemia
Because Vitamin C enhances iron absorption, it is beneficial in preventing iron-deficiency anemia which is a condition marked by a deficiency of red blood cells or hemoglobin. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that iron absorption is increased by 67 percent in people with anemia when Vitamin C is taken with a meal.
Wards off Chronic & Degenerative Disease
Vitamin C also holds powerful antioxidant properties that minimizes oxidative stress and cellular damage. By fighting free radicals, Vitamin C plays a major role in warding off the development of chronic and degenerative diseases such as aging, cataracts, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, neurodegenerative disease, autoimmune disease, and cancer.
How Much Vitamin C Should I Take?
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) by the government for Vitamin C has been established at 40 to 120 milligrams (mg.) per day depending on age, gender, and pregnant or lactating mothers. Though this amount is sufficient in preventing scurvy, an optimal dose for preventing and treating disease is much higher. The best way to get Vitamin C is through a wholefoods diet that provides plenty of vegetables and some fruit. However, you can opt for a supplement form for extra protection.
Building your body up with Vitamin C is the best way for taking it. While small doses (under 200 mg.) are completely absorbed, about 50 to 70 percent of a larger dose (1,000+ mg.) can be absorbed at one time. Spacing doses throughout the day increases the overall absorption, and this is recommended to maximize blood concentrations so that your body always has Vitamin C.
- Maintenance Dosage – Due to several studies, the minimum dosage that should be taken is 1,000 to 3,000 mg. per day. The latter amount is the dosage that prevents colds and flus, so it is probably the amount that you want to take.
- Critical Care Dosage – Consider taking higher doses if you are under extra stress, live or work in a polluted environment, or don’t eat at least six servings of vegetables per day. You may take 250 to 500 mg. every hour as long as your body can tolerate it. If you get diarrhea, decrease your dosage by spreading them out.
Following are a few studies that support higher doses of Vitamin C are more beneficial than the RDA.
Recommend Vitamin C for Colds & Flus
According to a study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, a mega dose of 1,000 mg. of Vitamin C three times per day will prevent and relieve the symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections caused by the common cold or flu. In test groups, symptoms were relieved by 85 percent compared to control groups.
Recommended Vitamin C for Heart Disease
A 10-year study from UCLA, consisting of 11,000+ American adults aged 25 to 74, showed that men who took 800 mg. of Vitamin C daily lived six years longer than those who took only 60 mg. Greater longevity was also shown in women. Higher Vitamin C intake reduced cardiovascular mortality by 42 percent in men and 25 percent in women.
Recommended Vitamin C for Cancer
Several studies have shown that mega doses of Vitamin C prevent, treat, and kill cancer. Vitamin C breaks down easily, generating hydrogen peroxide which is a reactive oxygen species that damage tissue and DNA. While normal cells have several ways of reducing hydrogen peroxide to prevent damage, tumor cells are much less capable of removing them. Mega doses of Vitamin C are usually done intravenously by a health practitioner for cancer patients.
What Vitamin C Supplement do You Recommend?
Vitamin C comes in many different forms: capsules, powder, liposomal. Some brands even advertise esterified, time-released, or mineral forms. To date, there is no proven benefits of taking one form of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) over another. Many companies claim their product has better bioavailability, but there is no scientific literature to support such claims. Therefore, I suggest taking a brand that has proven quality, purity, and potency. Personally, I recommend the following. If you have gut sensitivities, you may want to choose a buffered form of Vitamin C.