Micronutrients: Vitamin C

As we go into the Spring season for 2014, many individuals will be megadosing Vitamin C to maintain their immunity from allergies or cold.  The rapid increase in temperature and new florals in bloom can cause anyone to get the sniffles.  Vitamin C is great for trying to maintain immunity, but that is not the only reason why Vitamin C is essential.

Best sources:

  • Red Bell Peppers – 283 micrograms per cup
  • Papaya – 188 micrograms per papaya
  • Orange Juice (from frozen concentrate) – 97 micrograms per cup
  • Orange – 70 micrograms per cup
Highly sensitive:
Vitamin C is extremely sensitive to oxygen.  If exposed to oxygen, Vitamin C content will decrease rapidly.  For example, orange juice bought from the store (not concentrate form) that is not drank immediately will experience vitamin C degradation the longer the orange juice sits on the shelf in your refrigerator.
How much is needed:
  • RDA (recommended daily amount) for women is 75mg, 90 mg for men, and add on 35 mg per day if you are a smoker
  • Vitamin C is absorbed about 100% if taken in amounts less than or equal to 200 mg
  • Vitamin C is absorbed about 16% if taken in amounts more than or equal to 12 g
What does this mean?

Megadosing Vitamin C in amounts over 200 mg will result in over saturation of your tissues and you will excrete the excess in your urine.  The purpose of supplementing Vitamin C is to maximize your tissue stores and saturate the your plasma.  Consuming lower doses at a time results in more efficient absorption.
Deficiency: Scurvy
  • Yes, Vitamin C deficiency is referred to as scurvy (I know you’re thinking about pirates)
  • Symptoms include fatigue, general malaise, bleeding, loss of teeth, bleeding gums
  • Natural anti-histamine; 1000 mg can reduce histamines by 40%
  • Collagen synthesis; the “glue” that holds us together
  • Carnitine synthesis; shovels fatty acids into mitochondria so aids in energy production
  • Serotonin synthesis; appetite, sleep, and general metabolism
Vitamin C and Cancer

Studies have shown that intravenous Vitamin C increases hydrogen peroxide production, which increases oxidative stress on cancer cells.  The hydrogen peroxide kills the cancer cells but leaves healthy cells untouched.
Emergen-C, Ester-C, etc:
One of my professors, Carol Johnston, is the leader of Vitamin C studies in the United States.  Pretty cool, right?  She was contacted by the creators of Ester-C (same thing as Emergen-C and other powdered Vitamin C alternatives) to conduct a study of the Vitamin C content of their product and its effectiveness in supplementing the body with adequate stores.  The results of her study indicated that Vitamin C from Ester-C is not as bioavailable, therefore it does not bind with the receptors in your gut to be absorbed for use.  Instead, the Vitamin C from Ester-C is urinated out.  The verdict?  Don’t waste your money on powdered Vitamin C.
Eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables (for multiple reasons, but in the case of vitamin C, to boost tissue stores)
DO NOT peel or cut fruits and vegetables ahead of time; once they are cut or peeled, consume immediately
Considering your new found knowledge that Vitamin C oxidizes extremely rapidly, do not waste your money on Vitamin C powders such as Emergen-C or Ester-C.

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