Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, it became known as an immune boosting super-nutrient after two-time Nobel Prize Winner Linus Pauling touted the substance’s supposed benefits in a series of books. Vitamin C is an essential vitamin, which means our body can’t produce them by ourselves. It has many roles and has been linked to impressive health benefits. Vitamin C is required for the biosynthesis of collagen, L-carnitine (for energy production), certain neurotransmitters as well as involved in protein metabolism. Other than that, vitamin C is an important physiological antioxidant and has been shown to regenerate other antioxidants within our body – including alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E).
Approximately 70%-90% of vitamin C is absorbed at moderate intakes of 30-180mg/day. Then, at doses above 1g/day, absorption falls to less than 50%, the unmetabolized vitamin C is excreted through urine. So more is not always better, taking more doesn’t mean you absorb more.
Our body total content of vitamin C ranges from 300mg (near scurvy) to about 2g. High levels of vitamin C (in millimolar concentrations) are maintained in cells and tissues and are highest in leukocytes (white blood cells), eyes, adrenal glands, pituitary gland and brain. On the other side, it is relatively low level of vitamin C (micromolar concentrations) found in extracellular fluid, plasma, red blood cell and saliva.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamin C is 75mg for adult women and 90mg for adult men. While it is prioritized to get vitamin C from food, many people still turn to supplement to meet their needs. So, here are some scientifically proven benefits of Vitamin C:
Therefore, there are buffered or ester vitamin C to reduce this side effect or you could take with your meal or after meal. On the other side, there are natural vitamin C usually sourced from natural fruit extract such as rosehip extract, acerola extract and etc. Natural vitamin C supplements also come with combination of fruit extract targeted for different standardized compound such as bioflavonoids and it is usually containing lower amount of vitamin C compared to synthetic vitamin C supplement. Generally, natural vitamin C is superior due to natural occurring beneficial compounds in real fruits such as bioflavonoids, phenolics group with higher bioavailability vitamin C and more benefits. In addition, due to natural extracts from fruits, it is unlikely to cause any digestion distress. However, this is still depending on the formulation and ingredients of the vitamin C supplement itself. Therefore, you might need to consult with your healthcare professional to check which form and dosage of vitamin C supplement is more suit for your needs.
We have heard of all the good thing about vitamin C, but when comes to the side effect of it, how much do you know? Well, for starters, vitamin c is a water-soluble vitamin, which means it dissolves in water and do not store in our body. It is transported to our tissues via body fluids and the extra ones would be excreted through our urine. Since we do not store vitamin C, it is crucial to obtain vitamin C in a daily basis. However, chances are you might over-supplementing with vitamin C from your high dose vitamin C supplement and cause accumulation that lead to overdose symptoms such as nausea, abdominal cramps, digestive distress and diarrhoea due to the osmotic effect of unabsorbed vitamin C in gastrointestinal tract. Other than that, high vitamin C intake would increase the potential of urinary oxalate and uric acid excretion that contribute to the formation of kidney stones, especially individuals with renal disorder. More is not always better like I mentioned with Antioxidant, high dose of vitamin C can act as pro-oxidant and contribute to oxidative damage. Therefore, it is important to supplement it with the right dosage.
High dose IV vitamin C is currently being tested if it can improve lung function in people with COVID-19, however there is no evidence suggests that high doses of oral vitamin C supplements can help with it. In addition, there are on-going clinical research to further study the effectiveness of IC vitamin C in hospitalized people with COVID-19. That being said vitamin C supplement does not made you invincible. Also, it is important to note that vitamin C is not yet a standard part of the treatment plan for COVID-19 because the evidence is still lacking up to now and all of the study are governed by healthcare professional in a hospital setting.