I bet you’ve heard that vitamin C can cure the common cold, prevent against heart disease and cancer, and that high doses can increase ones health but is this all really true? We’re constantly being told to make sure were getting enough vitamin C and that too much is never enough, but should there be limits? According to numerous studies, excess intakes of vitamin C (over 200mg/day) are usually excreted in the urine and have shown to have little effects on ones health. Ironically, too much vitamin C can actually negate some of the positive effects that vitamin C does have on the body. Although studies have shown that excess vitamin C intakes do not aid in better health, studies have also shown that adequate intakes of vitamin C (about 100mg-200mg/day) may prevent cancers of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and lungs, and that vitamin C may prevent heart disease. However, not all studies have had positive results and it can still not be said that vitamin C definitely helps protect against these chronic conditions. Also, about 40 studies were conducted to examine the effect of vitamin C on the common cold and the results showed that vitamin C supplementation may have reduced cold duration by 1 day per year in adults; however, results were mixed and overall vitamin C cannot be said to cure/have any effects on a cold.
Even though vitamin C cannot be said to treat against certain cancers, heart disease, or the common cold, a normal intake of vitamin C is essential for our health and wellbeing. Most animals can actually synthesize their own vitamin C, but humans along with other animals such as some birds, fish, guinea pigs, bats, etc., need to obtain their vitamin C from their diet. Most Americans actually have low vitamin C intakes & some Americans are vitamin C deficient. The RDA for vitamin C for adult men is 90mg/day, and for adult women it is 75mg/day. Smokers have a higher vitamin C requirement, needing a 35mg/day increase when compared to non-smokers. Also, women using oral contraceptives may have an increased need for vitamin C along with burn and trauma patients.
Vitamin C plays essential roles in our body so we are able to function properly. Its essential for collagen synthesis, it synthesizes vital compounds such as the amino acid tyrosine, it functions as an antioxidant, it aids in iron absorption, and it is important for proper immune functioning. Collagen is a protein that gives structure to the body and provides the strength needed in connective tissues. Collagen fibers are essential for wound healing and for the makeup of bone and blood vessels in our bodies. Without vitamin C, collagen cannot be synthesized properly and cannot perform its major functions. Some signs of vitamin C deficiency include joint pain, joint bleeding, impaired wound healing, bone pains, fractures, and probably the most characteristic sign of vitamin C deficiency would be pinpoint hemorrhages around hair follicles and fatigue. To obtain adequate vitamin C intakes it is recommended to be sure to have 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each/day. Fruits and veggies are good sources of vitamin C but the best sources include citrus fruits, peppers, green veggies, and some fruit juices that are vitamin C fortified. Grains and animal products generally contain little to no vitamin c.