Of all the vitamins and supplements we take, vitamin C tends to be the one we think of first, the original vitamin. OG Vitamin C… Should you take vitamin C daily? In short, if you’re eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables daily, probably not. However, vitamin C supplementation may be a good idea for added insurance against some issues and large dose supplementation may be something to try as well in certain instances.
Vitamin C Supplement Benefits
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants protect against the effects of free radicals. Free radicals in the body can come from everywhere. They are even created during normal metabolism. Free radicals are atoms that have an odd number of electrons in the outer ring of the atom. Remembering vaguely from high school chemistry class, atoms want to be balanced in terms of their overall charge. Protons have a positive charge, electrons have a negative charge. A free radical has an odd number of electrons making up this molecule. Because it’s not a one proton for one electron relationship, the molecule is basically unbalanced. If there are more protons than electrons, the atom now has a positive charge and seeks to balance out that charge and make it neutral, stable. Because opposites attract, this positively charged atom is going to try to attract an electron from other molecules and make them unstable! It’s this reaction of creating unstable molecules that cause damage to our DNA. Some scientists suspect that over time the accumulation of free radicals is responsible for the aging process and the root cause of disease. Antioxidants are pretty much electron “sinks” that minimize the attraction of that unbalanced charge. And vitamin C is a great one. As stated on the Linus Pauling Institute’s web page:
“Vitamin C is the primary water-soluble, non-enzymatic antioxidant in plasma and tissues. Even in small amounts vitamin C can protect indispensable molecules in the body, such as proteins, lipids (fats), carbohydrates, and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), from damage by free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are generated during normal metabolism, by active immune cells, and through exposure to toxins and pollutants (e.g., certain chemotherapy drugs and cigarette smoke). Vitamin C also participates in redox recycling of other important antioxidants; for example, vitamin C is known to regenerate vitamin E from its oxidized form.”
Besides being a powerful antioxidant, Vitamin C:
- Helps the body absorb iron from non heme (plant) sources.
- Is needed for tissue growth and repair-vitamin C is essential in the manufacturing of collagen a protein that helps make up blood vessels, ligaments, cartilage, skin and tendons.
- Helps in wound healing and repair and maintaining your bones and teeth.
Can you take too much vitamin C? Probably not. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, your body can not store it. Vitamin C has been shown to be non-toxic in large doses. The downside of large Vitamin C intake (over 2 grams a day) is stomach and intestinal discomfort and diarrhea caused from the body trying to remove excess unused vitamin C. There is evidence that large dose vitamin C supplementation can be beneficial however. The current idea is that vitamin C is well tolerated up to 2 grams daily before “disaster pants” sets in. Large dose vitamin C:
- Can shorten the duration of the common cold-Linus Pauling Institute
- Can help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke either directly or through protecting the arterial wall-Linus Pauling Institute, University of Maryland Medical Center
- Has a strong association with a decreased risk of mortality-Linus Pauling Institute
Because vitamin C is water soluble, the body will get rid of what it does not need. Large dose vitamin C might be just what your body needs when you feel that cold coming on. You might consider taking it because of the protection against heart disease. High dose vitamin C has been shown to kill cancer cells in mice recently. Smoke and other pollutants are free radicals-if you smoke you might want to take extra vitamin C to combat the oxidative damage caused by smoking. Because of its safety, you might want to take vitamin C as insurance for good health. It seems like it can’t hurt. Vitamin C is available in lots of forms pretty much anywhere from your local grocery store to online retailers like Amazon.com. What’s cool is that the body doesn’t absorb one form more effectively over another(Linus Pauling Institute). This means that you don’t have to spend a ton of money for one of the best bets on your overall health.