Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is found in common foods. Water-soluble means the body does not store the vitamin and there is need for daily intake to meet nutritional requirements. Vitamin C plays an important role in the body by increasing immune function, promoting healthy skin, reducing free radicals, supporting heart health and enhancing cancer treatment.
- Supports Immune function- Shortens the duration of respiratory illness such the common cold, sinusitis and bronchitis.
- Facilitates Iron Absorption- Facilitates iron absorption by chemically reducing the iron to a form that can easily be absorbed into the body. I discuss this more in depth here
- A Powerful Antioxidant- Can protect against damage caused from free radicals and reduce the risk of inflammation that contribute to the development of health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.
- Heart Health- Removes sodium and water from the body, which helps to relax the blood vessel walls thus lowering blood pressure. Modifies low-density lipoproteins which is a major cause of cardiovascular disease. Reduces vascular smooth-muscle-cell apoptosis, which prevents plaque in atherosclerosis. Helps synthesize L-carnitine in the liver and transported via the bloodstream to cardiac and skeletal muscle. L-carnatine plays a big role in the production of cell energy.
- Skin and Joints- Is required for biosynthesis of collagen, an important structural protein that makes up connective tissue used to form skin, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. Collagen also plays a vital role in wound healing, recovery from burns and scar tissue formation.
- Enhance Cancer Treatment- Helps metabolize proteins and antioxidant activity reducing the risk of some cancers. Can also decrease symptoms associated with chemotherapy including nausea and fatigue.
- Constipation- We mentioned Vitamin C is water soluble. That means it also pulls water into your intestines, which can help soften your stool.
Forms of Vitamin C
Vitamin C comes in many various forms in the food we eat, including supplements found in topical, capsules, powder, chewable tablets, liquids and gummy form.
- Citrus fruit
- Red and green pepper
- Sweet potato
- Ascorbic Acid – Available in natural or synthetic form. May irritate the stomach.
- Mineral Ascorbates – Also known as buffered Vitamin C with mineral salts and is less acidic. Common mineral ascorbates include sodium, calcium, potassium and magnesium. Mineral ascorbates are generally more expensive but they are much easier on the stomach.
- Vitamin C with bioflavonoids – Bioflavonoids are compounds that increase the absorption of Vitamin C.
- Ester-C – This form contains mainly calcium ascorbate.
- Topical – Concentrated serums and creams that are applied to the skin are used as anti-aging formulas and antioxidant benefits. Most ingested Vitamin C does not reach the skin.
Make sure you read your labels to determine which Vitamin C is best for your family.
Symptoms of a Vitamin C deficiency
Around the end of the 15th century, a condition called scurvy, was cited as a major cause of illness and mortality among sailors due to malnutrition. This condition is caused by a severe-prolonged deficiency in Vitamin C. In 1747, James Lind conducted experiments aboard a naval ship utilizing lemons to aid in the treatment of scurvy. In the 1920’s, Albert Szent-Györgyi first recognized the correlation between Vitamin C deficiency and ascorbic acid treatments. If you’re deficient in Vitamin C, you could suffer from the following symptoms:
- Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis)
- Skin/hair- Slow wound healing, rough and dry skin, dry and splitting hair
- Weak immune system
- Swollen and painful joints
- Infants- Irritability, pain with movement, anorexia, slowed growth
- Children- Bone growth is impaired, bleeding, anemia
Prolonged deficiency can over time lead to other health related issues such as high blood pressure/atherosclerosis, gallbladder disease, stroke and certain cancers.
Common Side Effects
- GI- diarrhea, cramps
- Muscle cramps
- Stiffness of the joints
Vitamin C is one of the safer and more researched supplements out there and is unlikely to cause a problem. However, a high dosage or intake of Vitamin C can lead to a couple unwanted side effects. Vitamin C is absorbed in the intestines which can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort or have a laxative effect. Another poor side effect is the potential to increase urinary oxalate and uric acid excretion, which can inadvertently lead to kidney stones. People with hemochromatosis (too much iron in their blood) can lead to tissue damage from high iron absorption.
Lipid levels should be monitored in individuals taking both statins and antioxidant supplements
What tricks do you utilize to encourage your kids to take their daily dose of vitamin C? Comment below….
*Disclaimer- Please seek health advice from your provider before trying any of the above mentioned supplements. Only you and your provider understand your child’s health history. These supplements are not considered cures for any ailments