Have you had your Vitamin C today?

August 14, 2018

By Missy Beavers

We are in the midst of fire season and with all the smoke and ash in the air, it is nearly impossible to make it through the day without a scratchy throat and bloodshot eyes.  It was times like these when my grandma would force feed us grandchildren bushels of oranges proclaiming our collective need for Vitamin C. I grew up with the belief that Vitamin C could fix anything and research shows that this belief may not be too far off.

Vitamin C is one of the oldest discovered vitamins dating back to the 1500’s when sailors contracted scurvy due to a deficiency in the vitamin. Unlike other mammals, humans do not have the capability to produce Vitamin C in our bodies so we must obtain it from food. Ship bound sailors had no access to fresh fruit and vegetables which led to severe swelling in the gums, skin ulcers and bleeding. It was discovered 100 years later that supplementing with lemon juice reversed the condition. Sailors in the 1700’s were sent on the ship with a daily ration of two oranges and one lemon a day to prevent the illness.
It wasn’t until the 1900’s that chemists isolated the vitamin as Ascorbic Acid which is commonly called Vitamin C. This vitamin is classified as an antioxidant which means it is responsible for reducing free radicals in the body. Dr. Joseph Mercola, a leading doctor in natural health, explains that free radicals are byproducts from the burning of the fuel your body needs for energy that can damage tissues and cells throughout the body. Vitamin C is necessary to stop these free radicals from creating widespread damage.
In an article published on his website, Mercola describes 4 groups of people who are susceptible to vitamin C deficiency. This group includes aging adults, college students, people who live in a polluted environment, and smokers. A deficiency in Vitamin C means more free radicals in the body which creates a potential for a variety of health problems.
Extensive research has been done on Vitamin C and its benefits have been associated with everything from preventing heart disease to wound healing. Some of the benefits Dr. Mercola shares in his article include: maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, lowering blood pressure, reducing uric acid levels associated with Gout, improving eye health, assisting with protein metabolism and protecting the function of the immune system. Vitamin C is also vital for collagen product in the body which improves the texture and appearance of skin and supports healthy joint function.
To receive the full benefit of the vitamin, it is recommended for the average adult to consume about 1,000 mg of Vitamin C per day. The best sources of Vitamin C are found in raw, colorful fruits and vegetable, however, an orange only contains about 70 mg of Vitamin C and 2.5 cups of vegetables contain about 250 mg. One would have to eat a lot of oranges and salads to reach the suggested 1,000 mg. Vitamin C supplements can assist in meeting the daily amount, but not any supplement will do. Dr. Mercola points out that Vitamin C supplements are not absorbed as well as food sourced Vitamin C and taking high doses can cause gastric upset and loose stools.
For best absorption, look for a Vitamin C supplement that is derived from food sources and contains no sugars, chemical additives or toxic fillers. Combat fire season this year by enjoying a juicy orange and adding a quality Vitamin C supplement to your daily regime. You’ve only got health to gain and Grandma would most certainly be pleased!