Vitamin C has long been touted as an important vitamin for keeping you healthy. In cold season, it seems to be even more popular and it is recommended that you increase your daily dosage of vitamin C, often in the form of a supplement.
Although vitamin C is important for you to take every day, a higher dose may help you when your body is fighting off something, such as a cold. This is when a supplement can be useful.
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Besides fighting off colds, vitamin C has a number of other benefits. Let’s look at some questions and concerns about vitamin C such as health benefits and safety.
What is vitamin C?
Vitamin C is an antioxidant and vitamin that is important for a lot of functions in the body. It is a water soluble vitamin, which means that it can dissolve in water and be absorbed and transported with water.
This is different from fat soluble vitamins, which need fat in order to dissolve and be absorbed.
Vitamin C is available and stable in a number of forms, including tablet and powdered form. It can be destroyed by cooking and food processing and it is easily oxidized.
For more information about vitamin C you should visit the USDA’s Nutrition website.
What are the health benefits of vitamin C?
Besides possibly being able to fight off colds and other infections, vitamin C has a number of important functions in the body. As an antioxidant, vitamin C can help prevent cancer by preventing carcinogens to form in the GI tract as well as in foods.
Vitamin C’s antioxidant activity can decrease DNA damage from oxidation, protein damage from oxidation, and lipid peroxidation. This means that it can help decrease LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol in your body, which may result in a lower risk of atherosclerosis.
Vitamin C is important in the formation of collagen, which means it helps wounds heal faster and maintains the structure of connective tissues and skin. Vitamin C is essential for certain enzyme reactions in the body, including those that produce norepinephrine and serotonin.
What are sources of vitamin C?
Vitamin C can be found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits, like tangerines, grapefruit, oranges, limes, and lemons, are especially high in vitamin C.
Vegetables that contain vitamin C include tomatoes, red and green peppers, and leafy green vegetables such as collard greens and spinach. Be aware that cooking food too much can decrease the vitamin C levels in food.
Along with food sources, you can find vitamin C supplements as well as some unusual products that contain vitamin C such as tea, and cough drops.
How safe is vitamin C?
Vitamin C is very safe. If you get it through food sources there is very little chance of overdosing.
Even if you take supplements of vitamin C, you shouldn’t notice any side effects as long as you take the daily recommended dosage.
Even if you take more than the daily recommended dose, your body is usually able to flush out the extra amount so that you don’t get a toxic buildup of vitamin C in your body.
Extremely high amounts of vitamin C are considered to be more than 2000 mg daily for adults. You may notice certain side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, and kidney stones.
How much vitamin C should be taken to fight off a cold?
For normal, healthy adults, the daily recommended amount is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men. For young children up to 3 years of age, the recommended amount is 15 mg per day and is 25 mg per day for children between the ages of 4 and 8.
In cases of pregnancy and breast feeding, the daily recommendations are higher. For pregnant women, the recommended dosage is 85 mg and for those breast feeding it is 120 mg per day.
If you have a cold or other illness you are trying to fight off, there are increased recommended amounts. For both men and women, you can have up to 2000 mg per day.
For children 3 and under, the upper limit is 400 mg per day and for those 4 to 8 years of age, the upper limit is 650 mg. For women who are either pregnant or breast feeding, up to 2000 mg per day should be ok.
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