What Is Vitamin C And What Does It Do? (What You Should Know About Vitamin C)


What is vitamin C?

Vitamin C is an essential vitamin that your body cannot produce on its own. For this reason, it’s necessary to get it from food. It helps your body produce collagen, a structural protein found in your connective tissues that helps your wounds to heal. Vitamin C also helps synthesis an amino acid called L-cartinine which transports fatty acids in the body and is important for the production of some neurotransmitters [1].  

So what are the health benefits of the vitamin? Vitamin C offers many health benefits for your skin and is an important antioxidant. It’s found in all sorts of delicious fruits and vegetables and may even be useful in combatting respiratory and systemic infections [2].   


Amazing benefits of vitamin C

Vitamin C supports your immune stystem

Studies have shown that vitamin C is the most effective antioxidant found in your blood plasma, suggesting it is hugely important in protecting you against the stress caused by free radicals [3].  Vitamin C promotes the synthesis of white blood cells, helping to stave off infection [4] and it may reduce the duration and severity of colds [5].   


Vitamin C keeps your skin glowing

Vitamin C has benefits for skin too. It helps protect your skin against UV damage and stimulates collagen synthesis. A diet rich in the vitamin may help combat skin diseases and has been seen to reduce tumour growth [6].   

Vitamin C may be good for your memory

A Vitamin C-rich diet may even help maintain your memory. One study has shown the vitamin to mitigate the effects of memory loss in post traumatic stress symptoms in rats [7] and vitamin C deficiency has been linked to spatial memory problems [8].


Other benefits of vitamin C

The benefits don’t stop there. Diets rich in vitamin C have been linked to reduced risk of suffering cardiovascular disease and age-related macular degeneration. It is thought that high intakes of vitamin C could help protect your eyes as you age, and supplementing with the vitamin could decrease the duration of common colds. Vitamin C may improve your iron absorbtion and has also been linked to pain relief.

Where can vitamin C be found in food?

Knowing the benefits of vitamin C, you’ll want to get plenty of it. The good news is that it’s super easy to do without taking vitamin C supplements. If you eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, the chances are you are consuming enough vitamin C already.

Beware, though, the health benefits of vitamin C in foods may decrease if you over-cook it or store it for a long time [1].  To get the most vitamin C from your food, consume plenty of raw fruits and vegetables.

Five foods with vitamin C

1. Peppers

One of the best foods for vitamin C is the humble pepper. Half a cup of raw red pepper will flood your system with 95mg of immune-boosting vitamin C. That’s over 100% of your NRV (nutrient reference value) [1].  


2. Citrus fruits

Everyone knows that oranges contain high levels of vitamin C, but just how much vitamin C is there in one orange? A medium sized fruit will give you 70mg (78% of NRV) while one third of a cup of juice offers a whopping 93mg (103% of NRV) [1]. Lemons and grapefruits are also good sources.


3. Dark green vegetables

Eating your greens is a surefire way to top up on your vitamin C levels. Half a cup of cooked broccoli will give you 51mg (57% of NRV) and the same amount of cooked brussels sprouts gives 48g (53% of NRV).


4. Soft fruits

Blackcurrants, strawberries, kiwis, and cherries are all excellent cources of vitamin C. Eating one kiwi will give you 64mg of the vitamin (71% or NRV) while half a cup of fresh strawberries is loaded with 49mg (54% of NRV) [1].

5. Potatoes

If you thought potatoes were merely a starchy food to eat with with delicious toppings, think again. Potatoes are a decent source of vitamin C, with one medium sized baked potato offering 17mg (19% or NRV) [1].

How much vitamin C do you need per day?

How much vitamin C you need per day is simple. Anyone over the age of 15 needs 40mg of vitamin C every day. Children aged 1-10 need 30mg per day, while those between 10 and 14 need 35mg [10]. The NRV remains the same for pregnant women.

Vitamin C deficiency

At its worst, vitamin C deficiency will lead to scurvy. Initial symptoms include fatigue, feelings of unease, and inflammation of the gums [1]. Maintain a vitamin C-deficient diet over time and you may begin to notice changes to your skin. You may notice bruising, discolouration, or poor wound healing. Your skin may begin to thicken and your hair follicles can bleed. Other symptoms include bleeding gums, iron deficiency, and depression, and, left untreated, vitamin C deficiency can ultimately lead to death [1].


Vitamin C supplements

If you’re following a healthy diet you should be able to absorb enough vitamin C from your food. However, smokers, drug addicts, and those suffering from malabsorbtion due to illness are at increased risk of suffering a deficiency. In such cases, supplementation may be recommended.

Vitamin supplementation should always be done on the advice of a qualified health professional. For vitamin C deficiency, it is recommended to take 100-250mg once or twice a day for several days [11].

Vitamin C is water soluble, which means it is not stored in the body. That’s why it should be consumed on a daily basis. On a healthy diet, your body will absorb between 70 and 90% of all vitamin C that you consume [1]. It is hard to overdose, however, because your body will lower its absorbtion rate once you increase your uptake to around 1000mg per day.

Vitamin C supplements are usually derived from the synthetic version of the vitamin, ascorbic acid, much of which is made from GMO corn and refined with harsh chemicals. Ascorbic acid may also be combined with other mineral ascorbates such as calcium ascorbate or magnesium ascorbate. These ‘buffered’ products are less acidic than straight ascorbic acid. They may be gentler on the gastrointestinal system, but they are still synthetic.

The best way to get your vitamin C is from natural sources. We only use vitamin C from acerola cherry – natural and effective!


What are the side effects of too much vitamin C?

The side effects of vitamin C are limited. If you do exceed recommended amounts, the worst you are likely to experience is nausea, diarrhea, and possible gastrointestinal disturbances [1]. However, doses over 2000mg in one day may be unsafe and may contribute to kidney stones [11].


Vitamin C and other medications

Vitamin C supplements may interact with several medications. It is possible that they could interact with cancer treatment by working to protect tumor cells. More research is still needed in this area, however [1]. Other possible interactions include oestrogen, statins, niacin, anticoagulants, protease inhibitors, and aluminium [12]. If you already take medications and are considering taking longterm vitamin C supplements, it’s best to speak to your GP.


Vitamin C trends in the news

With the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, there has been much discussion in the news as to whether vitamin C can cure it. China is currently conducting a clinical trial, giving 24,000mg per day to patients intravenously. The results of the study remain to be seen, but we do know that sufficient vitamin C intake will keep your immune system strong and healthy [13].


Ethical Nutrition Multivitamin

We source all vitamin C from acerola cherry, a delicious berry that’s naturally rich in vitamin C, bioflavonoids, and phytonutrients. Check out our superior multivitamin here.


The Evidence

1.    Vitamin C: fact sheet for health professionals

2.   Vitamin C and immune function

3.  Ascorbate is an outstanding antioxidant in human blood plasma

4.  Technical advance: ascorbic acid induces development of double-positive T cells from humanhematopoietic stem cells in the absence of stromal cells

5.   Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold

6.   Role of vitamin C in skin diseases

7.   Vitamin C attenuates memory loss induced bypost-traumatic stress like behavior in a rat model

8.  Spatial memorydysfunction induced by vitamin C deficiency is associated with changes in monoaminergic neurotransmitters and aberrant synapsis formation

9. Vitamin C

10. Government dietary recommendations

11. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

12. Vitamin C

13. Coronavirus: is high dose vitamin C the answer?