Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) can be controversial. There are debates about the amount to be completed safely and a general lack of knowledge about how it is stored and used in the body.
Vitamin C in the body.
Vitamin C is used in the body in many ways
The formation of collagen, a connective tissue protein present in our body.
Vitamin C contains 4 hydroxyl groups (HO), which can be added to collagen, changing its conformation and making it stronger. Collagen is involved in the function of blood vessels, tendons, ligaments and bones as well as contributing to a firm complexion. Without this, we would have wrinkles and our blood vessels would begin to leak.
The formation of norepinephrine
A neurotransmitter that affects our mood. Norepinephrine levels are increased by some antidepressant drugs.
A molecule that carries fat in our mitochondria, which improves our ability to burn fat. Lack of carnitine could contribute to fatigue, one of the first symptoms of vitamin C deficiency disease, scurvy.
As an antioxidant that prevents our cells from being damaged by harmful free radicals. Its ability to regenerate other antioxidants such as vitamin E makes it particularly useful in this regard.
From the list above, you will probably conclude that it would be beneficial to have enough vitamin C in your body at all times.
Storage of vitamin C.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. In fact, vitamin C is stored in our body by most of our organs and also in our blood plasma. Our organs try to store vitamin C at levels well above those of blood plasma. For example, the adrenals, pituitary gland, thymus, and retina all have more than 100 times the concentration of vitamin C as blood plasma.
What we see then is that our kidneys tightly control the amount of vitamin C present in the body based on our vitamin C status. Our vital organs need a good amount of substance to meet present and if that is not the case, our plasma levels are decreasing and we are starting to retain more vitamin C. However, we must have enough. The question is how much is enough.
The recommended daily amount of vitamin C.
Some complementary medicine practitioners regularly use larger amounts of vitamin C intravenously, for example 28,000 mg every four days. The practice is quite common for the treatment of cancer, fatigue and chronic infection. Research into the mega-intravenous use of vitamin C suggests that it is surprisingly safe, with very few people experiencing negative side effects. High levels of extra vitamin C are safe for everyone except for people with kidney failure. Many people will experience stomach upset such as nausea and diarrhea if they take large amounts of oral vitamin C.
Why do we need vitamin C?
Vitamin C is associated with a reduced risk of some major diseases. The risk of heart disease is probably reduced by 25% or more in those who supplement more than 400 mg daily. The risk of cancer is also likely to be reduced because vitamin C can help deprive a fast-growing tumor of its oxygen supply. Gout is another condition where there is good evidence that extra vitamin C can help prevent or reduce symptoms.
Where can I get my C?
Vitamin C is available primarily from plant sources. The list below shows the amount of vitamin C available in 100 g of some plants rich in vitamin C:
- Peppers 150-250 mg
- Parsley 130 mg
- Kiwi fruit 90 mg
- Green vegetables 30-90 mg
- Oranges 50 mg
- Banana 9 mg, Apples 6 mg
- Liver 12-36 mg
- Oysters 30 mg
- Milk 2-4 mg
- Meat <0.1mg so not good for vitamin C