When it comes to vitamins and supplements, vitamin C is likely at the forefront of your mind. You heard about it growing up and you most likely still hear about it now, especially given the current global crisis that is COVID-19. Vitamin C is vital to bodily functions such as maintaining good cell health. It also helps heal wounds and can be great for maintaining a radiant and even complexion. A vitamin C deficiency can lead to an illness called scurvy, which was historically a common occurrence for seafarers. Fortunately, that’s hardly a problem these days as a balanced diet should cover your daily recommended daily amount (RDA) of vitamin C.
So apart from the reasons we just mentioned, why is vitamin C so good for you and what are some of the best sources of vitamin C? We’re here to break it down!
What is Vitamin C and what does it do?
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid or ascorbate. It’s a water-soluble essential vitamin which means that it cannot be synthesized by our bodies, so we need to incorporate it into our diets or take it as a nutritional supplement. Your body needs vitamin C in order to make blood vessels, cartilage, muscle and collagen in bones. Adding to this, it is also an essential element for the body’s healing process; it’s a powerful antioxidant and helps your body absorb and store iron. Vitamin C has been thought to aid your body in protecting your cells against the effects of free radicals. For those of you who don't know, free radicals are molecules produced when your body breaks down food or is exposed to substances such as smoke from tobacco and even radiation. According to an American health care centre called the Mayo Clinic, free radicals might play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases. In research conducted by the Mayo Clinic, they have found that even taking vitamin C supplements orally in combination with other vitamins and minerals seems to prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD) from getting worse. This is a form of genetically inherited eye disease that occurs with age – predominantly women are prone to AMD. Further studies have also suggested that people who have higher levels of vitamin C in their diets generally have a lower risk of developing cataracts (another form of eye disease).
Vitamin C for Beauty from the Inside Out
Vitamin C is needed in order to make collagen, which, according to an article posted by Medical News Today, is the most abundant protein in all mammals and accounts for up to 2% of all muscle tissue. Collagen in itself is a vital component in fibrous tissues such as cartilage, the cornea (hence aiding in preventing eye disease), blood vessels and skin, as well as many others. This super vitamin is an essential part of a good skincare routine, as any beauty guru will tell you. It helps the skin by synthesising collagen. In the opinion of Dr Anjali Mohato, a dermatologist speaking to the Independent, this act of synthesising is essential as it helps protect our skin from the damages of harmful UV rays from the sun, and it prevents the creation of an enzyme that causes pigmentation, making it excellent at brightening (i.e. could prevent freckles and spots caused from the sun). Now we aren’t saying that it’s the be-all and end-all skincare and health solution, but it certainly can’t hurt to try! You can find skincare products that contain vitamin C to apply topically, but you will most likely notice a difference when regularly getting enough vitamin C into your system via diet or supplements.
Vitamin C is the silent hero that's helping your body fight its battles
With all that's been going on in the world (Corona, we're talking about you!), we have found ourselves thinking more and more about our health and immune system in general. It came as no surprise to us that vitamin C, in fact, plays a big part in our immune system. In an article written by the US National Library for Medicine, it was stated that vitamin C is needed in order to stimulate the immune system, this is done by increasing the strength and protection of the organism.
Vitamin C and Cancer
For decades now, there has been medical interest in trying out vitamin C as a medicinal treatment for patients suffering from the devastating illness that is cancer. This is because vitamin C is an antioxidant and so it shields the body from oxidative stress and aids in preventing the oxidation of other molecules. Essentially this refers to the free radicals that we previously touched upon, and these free radicals are thought to be the cause of cells turning cancerous. So, by preventing this, medical experts think that it can help in tackling cancer itself. Not only that but the vitamin also seems to revive other antioxidants in the body too.
In fact, Dr Hoffman of the Hoffman centre in the US stated that vitamin C had been found to help cancer patients live four times longer on average when compared to cancer patients who had not received vitamin C as part of their treatment. He goes on to mention that over 1000 cancer patients were given high doses of vitamin C in the form of sodium ascorbate (basically supercharged Vitamin C in layman's terms) that were given orally and intravenously.
Dr Hoffman also points to ongoing research which has shown that, if high enough concentrations of vitamin C are administered, it can stop the growth or even kill a wide range of cancer cells. Further research is needed, but results so far appear to be promising and we’ll be watching closely to keep you in the loop!
Common colds, COVID-19, and Vitamin C
The common cold comes around year after year without fail, and while it’s not completely avoidable, vitamin C can help you keep colds at bay by boosting your immune system. According to Harvard Health, evidence from a 2013 review of 29 randomised trials with more than 11,000 participants led researchers to conclude that within extremely active people (such as marathon runners, skiers and those of us who used to go to the gym back when they were open) taking at least 200mg of vitamin C daily seemed to reduce the risk of catching a cold by fifty per cent. However, for the general population, taking daily vitamin C did not seem to reduce the risk of getting a cold. But what's more interesting is that taking at least 200 mg of vitamin C daily did appear to reduce the time of recovery from cold symptoms by an average of 8% in adults and 14% in children, which translates to feeling better about one day sooner rather than later – and that’s a day we wouldn’t waste! Ergo, a combination of keeping fit and taking vitamin C could keep you from getting a pesky cold as well as bumping up your overall health.
Taking into consideration that the virus responsible for the common cold is also a type of Coronavirus, you might think that vitamin C could help fight off COVID-19. Spoiler alert! The short answer is no, but not enough has been confirmed about SARS-COV-2 to present a final verdict. Although both the common cold and COVID-19 are part of the Coronavirus family, they are very different diseases, and as of yet no cure for COVID-19 has been found. There have been some studies on this and research continues on this topic. The Irish News stated that in a few health care facilities around the globe, there have been instances of using vitamin C as part of a much wider treatment strategy for COVID-19 patients. Vitamin C was delivered by medical professionals intravenously and at high doses. Dr Andrew G Weber, a New York-based pulmonologist and critical-care specialist, stated that he uses vitamin C as part of a strategy on his intensive-care patients who have tested positive for COIVD-19. He uses vitamin C by immediately administering 1,500 mg to his patients and continues with treatments three or four times per day. Dr Weber mentions that "The patients who received vitamin C did significantly better than those who did not get vitamin C." The critical point to take away from this is that vitamin C is being utilised as a part of a broader treatment strategy. This is very different from taking a 500mg supplement of vitamin C and expecting a cure, but it still points to the incredible properties of the vitamin and how it supports the body.
Should you be stuffing yourself with vitamin C?
Now that we know some of the benefits that this wonder vitamin can do for us, the question is: how much should we be taking in order to maintain a healthy daily diet? The Mayo Clinic states that vitamin C cannot be retained in the body for a long period of time, so regular intakes are recommended in order to maintain a healthy level in our bodies. In part, this is due to the fact that vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and so any excess amounts are not stored in our bodies.
The current RDA for adults is anywhere from 65 to 90mg a day, and the upper limit is 2,000 mg in a day. The Mayo Clinic also states that an overdose of vitamin C is rare and generally harmless, however, it could cause some unpleasant side effects such as nausea, indigestion, or heartburn. The take away from this is that vitamin C is definitely necessary, but just like all good things in life, it should be taken in moderate amounts.
Is not taking vitamin C really that bad?
We’ve covered how much vitamin C is recommended to take and also what happens when you take too much. But what happens if you don't take enough? It's definitely not a good idea to cut out this vitamin from your diet – and why would you, after we’ve discussed all the great things it can do!
Not getting enough vitamin C continuously can lead to a number of symptoms. These could include the slow healing of wounds (this goes back to how it helps out our immune system), bleeding gums when you brush your teeth, dry and wrinkly hands and even weight gain. People who are susceptible to vitamin C deficiency are those who already practice unhealthy lifestyle habits such as heavy drinking and smoking. Some experts are also of the opinion that patients with medical conditions such as kidney problems require more vitamin C than healthy individuals. Those who have a severe deficiency of vitamin C develop an illness called scurvy, sometimes known as Pirate’s Disease because historically, sailors and those at sea were most prone to having a poor diet and lacking good sources of vitamins and minerals. According to the NHS UK, scurvy is caused by people who have not had enough vitamin C in their diet for at least 3 months. Those suffering from scurvy tend to feel very tired and weak all the time, they generally feel irritable and sad and may have severe joint or leg pain.
How to incorporate vitamin C into your day?
By now you may have already gathered that the best way to get your daily vitamin C intake is by incorporating it into your diet. Some of the foods that have high concentrations of vitamin C are oranges, clementines, lemons, limes (generally any citrus fruits), as well as broccoli, strawberries and even potatoes. Food supplements that contain or are fortified by vitamin C are another great way to get the recommended daily amount. This is very helpful for those of you who live very hectic and busy lifestyles or perhaps aren’t the most gifted cooks.
The Botanic Lab solution to boost your vitamin C: Yin Yang Yuzu
At Botanic Lab, we specialise in creating products using botanicals. This means plants or parts of plants that have therapeutic or medicinal properties, and are also valued for their scent and/or flavour. Our products are prepared from botanicals to naturally elevate your health. Our Yin Yang Yuzu drink is the Botanic Lab vitamin C powerhouse. It contains yuzu fruit (basically a super lemon that you can read about here) which is jam-packed with vitamin C. What makes our drink extra special is that it also incorporates an array of additional nutritional elements. In short, it’s full of pure, natural goodness. Our drinks are vegan, contain no artificial flavours, colours, or preservatives, they’re low in calories and they are simply delicious. We’re here to give you products that are worth your time and money because your health and wellbeing are worth it to us!