Vitamin C: Enough is Enough

  • 2 Minutes Read
  • Feb 18, 2015

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that the human body does not produce nor store, so we have to ingest Vitamin C regularly. Controversy exists about vitamin C’s role with the common cold and some researchers think that mild vitamin C deficiency may be more common than you think. As is the case with most nutrients, it is best to get enough vitamin C, but not in excessive amounts.

Vitamin C: Enough is Enough

Vitamin C is one of the important nutrients found in fruits and veggies. It is an essential nutrient that the human body does not produce nor store, so we have to ingest Vitamin C regularly. It is a nutrient involved in a large number of body processes related to growth and repair. Vitamin C works with protein to make skin, tendons and blood vessels. It helps heal wounds and repair cartilage, bones and teeth. Adequate vitamin C results in less bruising, faster healing and healthier gums and teeth. Vitamin C is also an important antioxidant that plays a role in immune function.

Controversy exists about vitamin C’s role with the common cold. Some research shows that vitamin C levels in the body decrease at the start of a cold and that increasing vitamin C intake might be beneficial. Other evidence shows that the body holds on to vitamin C due to increased demand and that increased vitamin C intake is not helpful for combating a cold. Evidence supporting that high-dose vitamin C supplements prevent colds is lacking. Vitamin C does have weak antihistamine effects, so it might make cold symptoms milder and might shorten a cold’s duration.

Some researchers think that mild vitamin C deficiency may be more common than you think. Vitamin C deficiency can result in fatigue, anemia, bleeding gums, decreased ability to fight infection, increased bruising, nosebleeds, swollen and painful joints, and dry, splitting hair. Sustained vitamin C deficiency, after 3-5 months, can cause scurvy with symptoms of bleeding gums and loose teeth.

So, how much vitamin C is enough? The RDA primarily depends on age and gender. For example:

The tolerable upper limit (TUL) for vitamin C is 2,000 mg /day. Mega-dosing on vitamin C above the TUL may cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, abdominal bloating and cramping, headache, insomnia and kidney stones. Also, prolonged use of large amounts of vitamin C may result in increased metabolism of the nutrient so that when it is decreased, one could develop rebound scurvy. As is the case with most nutrients, it is best to get enough vitamin C, but not in excessive amounts.

Most nutrition experts agree that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is the best approach to getting adequate vitamin C. Practical tips to get vitamin C include:

References:
1. http://naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com
2. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002404.htm
3. R Larson. American Dietetic Assn. Complete Food & Nutrition Guide, 4th ed. 2012.

Nutrients->Other Vitamins & Minerals
Brenda Braslow
Brenda Braslow, MS, RDN, LDN, CDE - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)

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