Basic Information on Vitamin C: How Much Is Enough?

Vitamin C is the best-known vitamin. Its antioxidant power makes it a key player in regulating the immune system, fighting off infections, possibly preventing cancer, and even relieving the aches and pains of tired muscles.

Vitamin C is essential for the manufacture of collagen, the protein that keeps skin supple and wrinkle-free. It is essential for the production of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, one of the chemicals that prevent depression. It helps the liver make bile to carry cholesterol out of the body, and it helps in the making of carnitine that enables cells to burn fat.

Because C is a water-soluble vitamin, various experts argue that your daily dose should be anywhere from zero to 10,000 mg a day. What's the truth?

In 2002, nutritional researchers published a finding in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences with the title "Vitamin C pharmacokinetics in healthy volunteers: Evidence for a recommended dietary allowance." This careful study came to the conclusion that the old RDA of just 60 mg wasn't enough. The scientists stated that the RDA should be increased to 200 mg a day, exactly the same recommendation made by the Nobel laureate and C advocate Linus Pauling in the 1980's.

In other words, just a little bit of C, the amount you'd get in a glass of orange juice, probably isn't enough. Supplementation is a good idea for most people. But there are some things you need to know before you take more and more of vitamin C alone.

Food Serving Vitamin C (mg)
Acerola juice 3/ 4 cup (6 ounces) 6595
Guavas 4 medium 672
Currants 1 cup 671
Guava sauce (cooked) 1/ 2 cup 405
Pineapple 1 cup 280
Grapefruit, Red or Pink 1 large 247
Grapefruit, White 1 large 206
Peaches, sliced 1 cup 200
Sweet red pepper 1/2 cup, raw chopped 141
Strawberries 1 cup, sliced 123
Strawberries 1 cup, whole 82
Orange juice 3/4 cup (6 ounces) 75
Orange 1 medium 70
Grapefruit juice 3/4 cup (6 ounces) 60
Broccoli 1/2 cup, cooked 58
Grapefruit 1/2 medium 44
Potato 1 medium, baked 26
Tomato 1 medium 23

Even if you don't drink acerola juice and if you can't find currants and guavas in the market, you can get enough C in your diet, provided you consume the appropriate amounts of these vitamin C rich foods each and every day.

If you don't get your fruits and veggies, you need at least 200 mg of supplemental C every day. And if you are trying to fight any of a number of serious health conditions with vitamin C's antioxidant power, you need more.

Why would you take extra C? According to the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Study,

  • Getting just 300 mg of C every day lowers risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 25% in women and by 42% in men.

The study also found that getting more than 360 mg of C a day lowers risk of having a survivable heart attack by 27 to 28%. The study found that C in food wasn't what made the difference. The lowered risk of heart attack and stroke was found in people who took supplements.

Why would vitamin C lower the risk of heart attack and stroke? The answer seems to be blood pressure. One study recently found that taking 500 mg of C day lowers systolic blood pressure (the top number) an average of 9% over an eight-week period. Vitamin C lowers blood pressure whether or not users are on blood pressure medication.

It should be noted that vitamin C sometimes lowers the risk of heart disease in diabetics and sometimes doesn't. The difference is genetic. Not all diabetics respond to vitamins E and C in the same way. If you're diabetic, limit your daily supplementation with C to 200 mg a day unless you are fighting another, specific disease.

The other big reason to get your C is cancer prevention. One scientific study found that:

  • Men who get just 83 mg of C in their diets or from supplements had a 64% lower risk of getting lung cancer over a 25-year period.

Another study found that:

  • Women who had a history of breast cancer in the family had a 63% lower chance of getting breast cancer if they got 205 mg of C a day.

The women in this study were compared to a group of women with family history of breast cancer who only got 70 mg of C a day.

Need to get the lead out? A study of smokers who suffered lead poisoning found that taking 1,000 mg of C a day lowered bloodstream concentrations of lead significantly in just four weeks. A lower dose of 200 mg of C day had no effect.

And for the most common application of vitamin C, fighting the common cold, the evidence seems to suggest that up to 2,000 mg a day for up to a week can help. The secret to using C for fighting a cold is not to mix C and sugar. The reason for this has less to do with the C and more to with sugar.

When you consume carbohydrates with a high glycemic index, your body attempts to burn them off. As it metabolizes sugar, you need more oxygen. You breathe deeper and more frequently. You breathe in mucus carrying the virus farther and farther into your respiratory tract, counteracting the benefits of vitamin C.

If you don't get your fruits, fruit juices, and vegetables, you definitely need to take a C supplement. If you're trying to fight or prevent certain diseases, you need even more.

If you have history of kidney stones, you'll be interested to know that studies completed by Dr. Constance Tsao at the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine found taking 10,000 mg of C every day (vastly more than is needed to maintain health or treat disease) can increase the formation of oxalic acid in the urine, but even that level of C supplementation didn't cause kidney stones.

What kind of vitamin C should you take? The truth natural health experts tend to avoid is, synthetic C is just as well absorbed by your body as C from natural sources. The truth medical doctors tend not to know is, vitamin C works best with all its cofactors. Get your vitamin C every day from a balanced nutritional formula that gives you all the nutrients in the foods you might forget to eat, in a single easy dosing.

A Trustworthy Comprehensive Product

One company that produces a balanced nutritional supplement with vitamin C and its cofactors is Xtend-Life Natural Products from New Zealand. Their flagship product, Total Balance, is a balanced nutritional supplement containing C and more! It contains all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients you need in a single, easy-to-take blend.

We take it ourselves, and are very happy with the results.

More vitamin information besides vitamin C at the home page.

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