Overdosing on Vitamin C: What’s the real deal?

There’s no doubt about it, we all need vitamin c in our bodies.

It is necessary for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of our body. It helps the body make collagen, an important protein used to make skin, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Vitamin C is also needed for healing wounds, for repairing and maintaining bones and teeth. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that blocks free radicals from damaging our cells and DNAs. It prevents the build-up of free radicals to prevent the acceleration of  the aging process and the development of health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.

We have lots of vitamin C supplements available in the market, but are these supplements necessary?

Ambersweet oranges, a new cold-resistant orang...
Lots and lots of Vitamin C from citrus fruits.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How much vitamin C do we really need?

Several factors help determine how much Vitamin C a person needs, including the age and sex. People who smoke and women who are pregnant or those who breastfeed require more doses of vitamin C. The recommended dietary allowance for children from 1- 3 years old is 15 mg per day; those from 4-8 years should have at least 25mg each day; 9-13 years should  have 45mg/day; females from 14-18 years should have 65mg while teenage boys should have at least 75mg; females 19 years old and above should take at least 75mg while the males’s minimum intake should be 90 mg/ day. Pregnant women’s minimum intake is around 85mg each day, while breastfeeding moms should have at least 120mg/day.

Here’s a few things you have to remember before swallowing that pill.

  • Taking lots of Vitamin C is not  the best way to prevent colds. Megadosing with vitamin C only reduces the duration, but not the frequency of colds. If you’re going to get a cold, you’re still going to get it. Vitamin C will just reduce the duration of the actual cold. It’s going to be shortened.
  • Vitamin C is water soluble, so excessive doses of it should is washed  out by urinating.  It is non-toxic and non-immunogenic, and does not irritate the stomach as drugs like aspirin can.
  • Many chewable vitamin C products contain sugar, and all are highly acidic (which can be damaging to tooth enamel). It is probably a good idea to brush your teeth after taking a dose of a chewable vitamin Cs.
  • Sodium ascorbate, known to be a less acidic alternative to the more common ascorbic acid,  is vitamin C combine  with sodium. If you are watching your sodium intake, if you are  prone to hypertension or if you have a heart condition, sodium ascorbate is a no-no.

Various fruits like  guava, papaya, citrus fruits (oranges, limes, nactarines, grapefruits and tangerines), citrus juices and vegetable (potatoes, brussel sprout, broccolis and cauliflowers) are high in vitamin C. Having a balanced diet should give you just enough supply of vitamin c that your body needs, however, many people are still unable to make these fruits and vegetables regular part of their diet. Some people are even at risk  for Vitamin C deficiency because of chronic malnutrition and poor diets. These can include those with chronic diseases, the elderly and those who are dieting.

Before wasting money and risking your health by taking unnecessary supplements, ask your doctor first if you really need it and what type of vitamin C is best for you.

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