Are We Getting Vitamin C?
Posted on by Paula Gallagher
Are we getting enough vitamin C in our diets? It really depends on what you consider enough. Currently, the RDA for vitamin C is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men. This can be achieved by eating a large orange along with a handful of strawberries. And although the current RDA is sufficient to prevent scurvy, more and more research shows that it may not be high enough to help to reduce risk of chronic diseases such as stroke, cancer and heart disease. A diet higher in vitamin C may also help to prevent high blood pressure, chronic inflammation, and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), as well as boost immune response.
A report published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition says the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C should be raised, and we should all consume more vitamin C-rich foods. In fact, according to this review, the scientists believe that the RDA of vitamin C should be more than doubled to almost 200 mg for men and women.
Although modern cases of scurvy are rare, some groups of people are more at risk of vitamin C deficiency than others. They include:
- College students (whose diets may be lacking in fruits and vegetables)
Vitamin C in Our Diet
Thankfully, for many, getting enough vitamin C is easily achieved through diet. Some examples of foods rich in vitamin C include:
- Citrus fruits
- Bell peppers
- Acerola (Barbados cherry)
- Greens, such as kale, spinach, chard, arugula, and collards
- Many types of berries
- Fortified foods
Supplemental Vitamin C
If you find incorporating vitamin C-rich foods into your daily diet challenging, a wide range of vitamin C supplements is available to fit your needs. Before taking any supplement, consult with a health care practitioner to see what is best for you.
Ascorbic acid is the most common form of vitamin C. It is water soluble and one of the safest to take as any excess is naturally excreted by the body. Most people find that they can effectively absorb about 500 milligrams over a 4-hour period. However, some people do not tolerate ascorbic acid well and they may experience gas and indigestion, sometimes followed by diarrhea and cankers or cold sores.
Those taking large quantities, over 10 grams per day, for tissue cleansing, oral chelation or as an adjunct to cancer therapy, can induce an acidic state in the body known as "metabolic acidosis," which is known to contribute to a variety of chronic disorders such as arthritis, diabetes and digestive problems. Your health care practitioner can advise you regarding acidosis, and most of the major alternative health guides have useful information on the topic. If you're experiencing symptoms of intolerance or acidosis, a buffered form of C such as calcium ascorbate may be more appropriate.
These forms of vitamin C are available individually or as mixtures of calcium, magnesium, sodium and/or zinc ascorbates. Mineral ascorbates are also called buffered, or more correctly, pH-neutral, meaning that they won't change the body's overall pH or acidity level. They are often the choice for people who are intolerant of acidic foods such as citrus fruits or tomatoes, or those who develop indigestion or gas when taking ascorbic acid. Calcium ascorbate also contributes significant calcium to the diet – about 94 mg of elemental calcium per 1,000 mg of calcium ascorbate. If using large quantities, it may be useful to add magnesium and vitamin B6 to the diet to improve the calcium's solubility.
Citrus bioflavonoids are biological compounds that are found with vitamin C in food. They interact with C, increasing its potential for healing and overall biological activity, basically increasing vitamin C’s effectiveness. Individual bioflavonoids such as hesperidin and quercetin are sometimes added to enhance free-radical scavenging activity and antihistamine effects respectively. Electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium are sometimes incorporated into formulas to boost recovery from strenuous exercise or exertion in hot, sunny conditions, or to rehydrate those who have lost a great deal of fluid during an illness.
Which Vitamin C is Best for Me?
There is no one-C-fits-all, but for most, a 500-mg capsule or tablet of ascorbic acid with equal amounts of bioflavonoids will be beneficial. Capsules, tablets and powders are available for individual preferences. If you have acid sensitivity, intolerance of ascorbic acid, or need to use large quantities of ascorbic acid, a buffered form of C may be best.
For more information about vitamin C, visit Village Green Apothecary.
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