Vitamin C is one of the safest and most effective nutrients when it comes to protecting our health and longevity.  When we are run down, stressed, or actually sick, our bodies burn through vitamin C at an alarming rate.  Once your vitamin C levels drop, your immune system becomes more compromised which could lead to other health issues.

This explains why we are able to tolerate much larger than normal doses of vitamin C than we would normally require when we have a cold, flu, or other infections.

Interestingly, in healthy people who regularly consume vegetables and some fruits and/or supplement with vitamin C, recommended vitamin C levels are around 70 micromoles per liter yet these levels drop precipitously when we have a health problem.  For example, these levels drop from 70 to:

42 in diabetics

31 during pneumonia

<24 in cancer patients

27 in arthritic patients

Oxidative stress and systemic inflammation will also deplete vitamin C levels.  Certain drugs also deplete C in the body, for example,  multiple studies over the past 50 years confirm that aspirin use lowers Vitamin C levels in white blood cells.  Researchers present multiple mechanisms at play, but the bottom line is that aspirin prevents critical immune system blood cells from absorbing optimal amounts of Vitamin C.

For whatever reason, as our vitamin C levels drop our immune function will also suffer.

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C at 90 mg. is enough to prevent scurvy, a vitamin C deficiency but woefully too low to provide optimal levels of this vitamin.

I recommend 500-1000 mg/day of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) which is 5-11 times the recommended RDA.  Regular, inexpensive ascorbic acid is all that is necessary, and don’t get caught up in all of the advertising hype about fancy and much more expensive forms of vitamin C being better or more bioavailable.

Vitamin C is protective on so many levels.  In addition to strongly supporting immune function, other proven benefits are:

1-      Protects against CVD (Cardiovascular Disease)

2-      Reduces the risk of stroke

3-      Protects our cells against radiation damage

4-      Protects against damage to our DNA

5-      Beneficial adjunctive cancer therapy (intravenous Vitamin C is often given to cancer patients).

6-     Beneficial anti-inflammatory

7-      Powerful antioxidant that also protects and restores other antioxidants

8-      Protects connective tissue, bones, arteries, and skin

9-      Crucially beneficial to wound healing

10-   May reduce the duration and severity of the common cold and in higher doses may reduce flu symptoms

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means it dissolves in water. In contrast to fat-soluble vitamins, water-soluble vitamins do not get stored within the body. Instead, the vitamin C that you consume gets transported to your tissues via body fluids, and any extra gets excreted in the urine.  Since your body does not produce vitamin C on its own or store it, it’s important to take a vitamin C supplement and consume foods that are rich in vitamin C every day to keep your body functioning properly.

Whether you eat lots of fruits and vegetables or take vitamin C in caplet or powdered form, make sure to get at least 500-1,000 mg. daily or double that amount (1,000 to 2,000 mg) if you are a smoker or drinker.  Don’t be afraid to increase your intake of vitamin C when you are sick.

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.

Click here to listen to my radio segment as we discuss Vitamin C on the Dr. Tony O’Donnell Show!

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