The Ultimate Guide to Vitamin C

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Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is found in nearly all living tissues. It’s necessary to form collagen, a protein found in blood vessels, cartilage, muscles, and bones. Vitamin C is also of great importance for the formation of tissues and the body’s healing process after various injuries. Harmful molecules, including free radicals and pollutants (e.g., toxic chemicals and cigarette smoke), contribute to chronic conditions like cancer, heart disease, and arthritis. A regular intake of vitamin C through a standard diet is thus crucial in preventing these conditions

Related: Vivoo Vitamin C Box

That’s because vitamin C exerts potent antioxidant effects that could negate free radicals’ damage to the body. Specifically, recent scientific evidence suggests that high vitamin C is associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and cataracts, possibly through antioxidant mechanisms.

The body excretes excess amounts of vitamin C. It’s thus safe to say that no charge is too much when taken through a balanced diet. Also, be mindful that vitamin C can be quickly inactivated when exposed to heat, light, and contact with metal. That’s why you should be aware of how you prepare your meals. This ensures you’re consuming the amount of vitamin C you think you are. 

bell pepper for vitamin c

Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for Vitamin C

The recommended RDA for vitamin C is 90 mg/day for non-smoker men and 75 mg/day for non-smoker women. However, breastfeeding mothers need an additional 30 mg daily, and smokers need 35 mg. Although the body cannot make or store vitamin C, it’s still pretty easy to meet your daily requirements if you include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet.

Excessive vs. Excess 

The body excretes excess amounts of vitamin C through the urinary tract.

This typically doesn’t cause any serious issues. However, going beyond 2,000 milligrams a day (i.e., “excessive dose”) could cause harm to the gastrointestinal and urinary tract.  

Due to the osmotic effect of unabsorbed vitamin C in the gastrointestinal tract, the most common complaints are diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramps, and other gastrointestinal disturbances. The incidence of these side effects increases in proportion to the amount of vitamin C consumed. 

Excessively high vitamin C can increase urinary oxalate and uric acid excretion, which can contribute to the formation of kidney stones –especially in individuals with kidney disorders. More than 10000 mg of vitamin C per day can dramatically increase the risk of recurrence for people who suffer from kidney stones.  

Vitamin C Deficiency 

Vitamin C deficiency is a relatively rare condition that’s more common in malnourished adults. Individuals suffering from certain digestive system disorders may be more prone to vitamin C deficiency.

strawberries for vitamin c

Individuals with severe vitamin C deficiency may experience anemia, bleeding gums, and bruising on the skin. Scurvy, defined by slow wound healing, may also result. So, monitoring the level of vitamin C in the body helps prevent unwanted diseases.

Why Is It important to Monitor Vitamin C Levels?

The human body cannot produce vitamin C on its own, so you’ll have to get it through your diet. And it’s essential to do so because vitamin C is one of the most beneficial nutrients for the body. 

It helps support the immune system, promotes iron absorption, increases skin elasticity, and even protects against many diseases (e.g., cardiovascular diseases, prenatal health issues, eye disease). Studies also show that vitamin C may be particularly beneficial for those with a weakened immune system (due to stress). 

Vitamin C depletes quickly in those who smoke, drink alcohol, and are obese — in turn, explaining why vitamin C levels could serve as an indicator of general health. 

Individuals with high levels of vitamin C have a lower risk of stroke than individuals with low levels. Additionally, it’s thought that adequate vitamin C has positive effects on skin dryness and aging because it affects cells inside and outside of the body. Monitoring your levels of vitamin C ensures that you achieve optimal health and wellness.

Vitamin C in Urine

white potatos for vitamin c

70% to 90% of ascorbic acid intake (up to 180 mg/day) is absorbed in a regular diet. The remaining is typically excreted in the urine. An excessive increase in vitamin C intake thus increases the amounts detected in the urine. 

In other words: urinary vitamin C levels provide insights into the vitamin C balance in our body. It is crucial to perform a urine test and monitor the level of vitamin C to prevent adverse health effects resulting from inadequate or excessive vitamin C intake

Low Urine Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, and excess amounts of it are thus not stored in the body but, instead, excreted from the body through urine. The body maintains only a small reserve of water-soluble vitamins, explaining why you need to consume vitamins regularly. 

Symptoms of severe vitamin C deficiency can take months to develop. Still, it will exhibit a few signs and symptoms that it’s low on vitamin C, including: 

  • Broken hair
  • Dried skin
  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Weak and painful bones
  • Bleeding gums
  • Weak immunity
  • Iron deficiency
  • Fatigue and bad moods

 

Optimal Urine Vitamin C

Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C include oranges, strawberries, kiwis, bell peppers, broccoli, kale, and spinach. Vitamin C can also be taken as a food supplement to boost intake from natural food sources. Meeting your daily vitamin C requirements is crucial to achieving optimal health and wellness.

The benefits of getting enough vitamin C include:

  • Exerts  powerful antioxidant effects
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Improves iron absorption
  • Beneficial for healthy skin and strong hair
  • It helps wounds heal quickly
  • Reduces cataracts and age-related macular degeneration
  • Helps reduce inflammation

 

grapefruit for vitamin c

In What Situation Does the Need Increase?

Under normal circumstances, meeting your daily vitamin C requirements should be easy so long as you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet. Unfortunately, this may not apply to certain people. For instance, those who smoke, are exposed to air pollution, or work under direct sunlight all tend to have low levels of vitamin C. 

If you belong to any of the above groups, slightly increase your vitamin c intake.

High Urine Vitamin C

Vitamin C is well-known for its ability to support proper immune system functioning. As your body cannot produce vitamin C, you’ll have to get the vitamin through external sources like foods and supplements. For most people, an orange, cup of strawberries, chopped red pepper, or a serving of broccoli provides enough vitamin C for the day. 

And while it’s an essential nutrient, it is still possible to overdose on vitamin C (typically due to supplements). Excessively high urine vitamin C may indicate high dietary vitamin C consumption. Taking more than the upper limit for vitamin C (above 2g/day) is not life-threatening, but you may experience side effects such as:

  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps or bloating  
  • Headache  
  • Skin flushing
  • Kidney stones

 

Vivoo’s Vitamin C parameter measures your urinary vitamin C levels to get a sense of your vitamin intake – helping you protect yourself from unwanted harmful diseases.

Vitamin C and Healthy Diets

Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C include:

  • Strawberry
  • Citrus fruits
  • Papaya
  • Kiwi
  • Red pepper
  • Guava
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes

 

Adding these to your daily diet will provide your body with the necessary amounts of vitamin C.

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