When to take vitamin C

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Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an important nutrient that provides many health benefits for your body. It helps build muscle, blood vessels, cartilage, and collagen. It also works as an antioxidant to protect your cells from free radicals. Vitamin C is a great helper in helping your body absorb and store iron. Prepare for the cold season? Try increasing your vitamin C intake to provide additional support for your immune system.

Your body doesn’t naturally produce vitamin C, so make sure you’re getting enough of it in your diet. Typically, colorful fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamin C, including citrus fruits, berries, peppers, and green vegetables.

Symptoms of vitamin C deficiency

Although most people get enough vitamin C in their diet, a vitamin C deficiency can cause a condition called scurvy. Symptoms of scurvy include:

These symptoms occur because your body does not have enough vitamin C to produce enough collagen. It weakens your blood vessels, connective tissue, and bones. You can also develop anemia. Although scurvy is rare and progresses slowly, it is fatal without treatment.

Some people have a higher risk of developing vitamin C deficiency. You may be at risk if:

  • You smoke or have frequent contact with second-hand smoke.

  • You have a gastrointestinal illness or cancer that interferes with the absorption of vitamin C.

  • You eat a diet with few fruits and vegetables.

Benefits of taking vitamin C

Adding more vitamin C to your daily routine can be beneficial for a variety of health concerns. Despite numerous research studies, it is not known exactly how beneficial vitamin C is for the body. The general understanding from these studies is that increasing your vitamin C intake could help in these areas:

  • Cancer prevention: Eating foods rich in vitamin C could help reduce the risk of certain cancers, such as colon, lung and breast cancer. However, it appears that vitamin C supplements are just as effective as getting vitamin C from the foods in your diet.

  • Eye health: Vitamin C supplements can prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD) from getting worse and may also reduce the risk of developing cataracts.

  • Management of colds and flu: Studies show that increasing vitamin C intake doesn’t prevent you from catching a cold or the flu. However, maintaining high vitamin C levels year round can shorten the duration of the illness and alleviate symptoms.

  • Cardiovascular health: The antioxidant benefits of a diet rich in vitamin C may help reduce oxidative damage that causes cardiovascular disease.

If you want to take vitamin C, the recommended daily amount is 75 milligrams (mg) for women and 90 mg for men. Many people take vitamin C in the form of supplements. It’s water soluble, so your kidneys flush out any excess vitamin C in your urine. Be sure to take supplements with a full glass of water to help absorption.

Keep in mind that it is ideal to get vitamins from eating the right foods. You can create a diet rich in vitamin C by eating more citrus fruits, peppers of all colors, berries, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, and foods fortified with vitamin C.

The skin gets its high levels of vitamin C from the circulating blood. Vitamin C helps build collagen and protects the skin from UV damage. Many people apply vitamin C serum and other products to the skin, in hopes of restoring collagen and reversing or stopping UV damage. But the amount of topical vitamin C that gets into the skin depends on many factors.

Vitamin C can only enter the top layer of the skin as ascorbic acid and when the serum pH is low (low pH is more acidic and high pH is less acidic). In addition, topical vitamin C will only enter when the level of vitamin C in the blood plasma is low. If the person does not have vitamin C deficiency, the skin is already saturated with vitamin C and will not absorb it externally by topical application, including vitamin C serum.


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