What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid is referred to as an essential micronutrient because it needs to be consumed from the diet as our bodies are unable to produce it. As an antioxidant it protects body cells from oxidative stress, which is damage caused by molecules known as free radicals. Oxidative stress is thought to play a role in the development of degenerative diseases and ageing. 

Why is Vitamin C important?
Vitamin has numerous functions within the body and contributes to:

  • The normal function of the immune system.
  • Normal energy-yielding metabolism and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.
  • The normal functioning of the nervous system
  • The normal collagen formation for the normal function of blood vessels, cartilage, gums, skin and teeth.
  • Normal psychological function.
  • The regeneration of the reduced form of vitamin E.
  • The absorption of Iron.

What are the best sources of Vitamin C?
It is important that we get a daily source of Vitamin C from the diet. The best way to do this is to consume a selection of the following foods:

  • Citrus Fruit (oranges, lemons)
  • Broccoli
  • Potatoes
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Peppers
  • Berries (Strawberries, Blackberries)

How much Vitamin C do I need?
It is recommended that adults (19-64 years) should consume 80mg of Vitamin C per day. Daily intake of Vitamin C is important as it cannot be stored by the body. This is because it is water soluble (dissolves in water) therefore any excess is just excreted in the urine. 

What are the symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiency?
Without Vitamin C the body isn’t able to make enough collagen which is the most abundant protein within the body, providing structure to many tissues including bones, skin and blood vessels. This condition is known as Scurvy and leads to muscle and joint pain, tiredness and the bleeding and swelling of gums. Although uncommon in the UK, Scurvy is still a potential risk among certain groups of the population including; those who smoke, the elderly and those on a low income.

Supplementing with Vitamin C?
For the majority of people the recommended intake level of 80mg (NRV) of Vitamin C is easy to meet through the diet alone and therefore supplementing low doses is unnecessary. Supplementing with higher doses of 1000mg-2000mg however  is often used to provide further immune support particularly for athletes following strenuous bouts of exercise  and has been suggested to help reduce the duration of the common cold.

Can you have too much Vitamin C?
With Vitamin C being water soluble, consuming too much isn’t going to cause much harm as the excess which isn’t required is just excreted in the urine. However large doses of Vitamin C may possibly lead to nausea, diarrhea and stomach cramps.