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10 Benefits of Vitamin C , Its Side Effects and Precautions While Taking It

Last updated on : 20 Jun, 2024

Read time : 11 min

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that does not directly treat any chronic health issue, but it plays an indirect role in maintaining the overall health and functionality of our body. It is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from free radicals damage and oxidative stress. One of its essential roles is synthesising collagen, a structural protein vital for skin, blood vessels, bones, and connective tissues.

Its involvement in collagen synthesis contributes to wound healing, skin elasticity, and blood vessel integrity. Additionally, vitamin C enhances the absorption of non-heme iron from plant-based foods, preventing iron deficiency anaemia. Uric acid levels can also be lowered with adequate vitamin C intake. It can help manage gout or arthritis. Some research also suggests that this vitamin can reduce the risk of certain cancers.

Daily intake of Vitamin C also supports our immune system. It promotes the production and function of white blood cells, helping the body fight infections and illnesses. It also aids neurological functioning. Furthermore, this vitamin is known for its potential to reduce the duration and severity of common cold symptoms. Regular intake of this vitamin through food or supplements is essential for various processes in the body.

How Much Vitamin C Should be Consumed Daily?

The recommended daily vitamin C intake depends on age, sex, and overall health. However, a general guideline provided by health authorities is as follows:

How-Much-Vitamin-C-Should-be-Consumed-Daily
  • For adult men (19 years and above), the recommended daily vitamin C intake is around 90 mg.
  • For adult women (19 years and above), the recommended daily intake is approximately 75 mg.
  • Vitamin C requirements during pregnancy increase. Consuming around 85 milligrams of vitamin C per day during pregnancy is advised.
  • For breastfeeding women, the recommended intake increases to about 120 milligrams per day.
  • Teens 14-18 years should take 65-75 mg in a day.
  • Children 9 to 13 years old should take 45 mg a day.
  • Children 4 to 8 years old should take 25 mg a day.
  • Children 1 to 3 years old should take 15 mg in a day.

If you smoke, you must take 35 mg of extra Vitamin C with the above-recommended values. Your daily intake of Vitamin C may match your specific health conditions. Consuming a balanced diet rich in antioxidants is an effective way to fulfill your daily Vitamin C requirements, and dietary supplements can be considered, if necessary, after consulting a doctor.

Also Read: Top 10 Vitamins & Supplements to Elevate Your Health

What are Health Issues Due to Low Vitamin C Levels?

Low levels of vitamin C can lead to various health issues, as vitamin C plays a crucial role in several bodily functions. Some health problems associated with a deficiency in vitamin C include:

  • Impaired Immunity: Vitamin C is essential for the proper functioning of the immune system. Low levels of Vitamin C in the body can compromise your body’s ability to fight off infections and illnesses. It can make you prone to respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, and other common infections. Low immunity during pregnancy may pose risks to both the mother and the developing fetus.
  • Delayed Wound Healing: Vitamin C aids collagen synthesis, a protein necessary for healing. Low levels can result in delayed healing of wounds and injuries.
  • Joint and Muscle Aches: Inadequate vitamin C may contribute to joint and muscle pain, affecting mobility and flexibility.
  • Dry and Damaged Skin: Vitamin C is important for skin health. Low levels can lead to dry, rough skin and increased susceptibility to damage from environmental factors.
  • Anaemia: Vitamin C enhances the absorption of non-heme iron in the intestines. Low levels of Vitamin C can cause iron deficiency anaemia.
  • Fatigue and Weakness: If your body is low in Vitamin C levels, you will likely feel fatigued and weak to do daily tasks.

Rarely, but severe vitamin C deficiency can cause scurvy. It is a condition that leads to fatigue, weakness, swollen and bleeding gums, joint pain, and anaemia.

Benefits of Taking Vitamin C

Besides strengthening our immunity and preventing anaemia, Vitamin C is also good for skin, hair, heart, eyes and weight loss.

List of Top 10 benefits of Vitamin C for well-being are:

1) Vitamin C Benefits For Skin Health

Vitamin C is renowned for its skin-loving properties. It promotes collagen synthesis, a protein essential for skin elasticity and firmness. Regular intake of Vitamin C for the face benefits in reducing wrinkles and fine lines and promoting a youthful and radiant complexion.

2) Vitamin C Benefits for Hypertension

Some research suggest that Vitamin C may have a blood pressure-lowering effect. It helps relax blood vessels, to promote better blood flow and reduce resistance in the arteries. Furthermore, vitamin C supports nitric oxide production, a molecule that helps dilate blood vessels, enhancing their flexibility and improving circulation. This vasodilatory effect contributes to maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.

3) Vitamin C Benefits for Hair

Vitamin C plays a role in the production of collagen, a key component of hair structure. Collagen gives strength and elasticity to the hair strands, helping prevent breakage for healthier hair. If you have hair damage, split ends and hair breakage issues, supplement your hair with Vitamin C.

4) Vitamin C Benefits for Asthma and COPD

Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties that may benefit individuals with respiratory conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Adequate vitamin C levels help regulate mucus production in the airways. Clear air passages can reduce coughing and congestion due to respiratory problems.

5) Vitamin C Benefits for Men

Adequate Vitamin C levels may also increase testosterone levels in men. It also contributes to the formation of healthy sperm and protects them from oxidative damage. Regular intake of Vitamin C can also improve fertility in men.

6) Vitamin C Benefits for Eyes

Eye conditions like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration can be prevented by vitamin C and other antioxidants. It neutralises free radicals that can contribute to eye diseases. Regular Vitamin C intake can significantly decrease the likelihood of developing cataracts by 70-75% and reduce the risk of muscle degeneration in later years.

7) Vitamin C Benefits the Brain and Memory

As an antioxidant, Vitamin C helps protect the brain from oxidative stress and inflammation, which are associated with cognitive decline. It is also involved in the production of neurotransmitters that help in the smooth functioning of the brain.

8) Vitamin C Benefits Weight Loss

Vitamin C is linked to weight management and fat oxidation. Adequate levels can support weight loss by enhancing the body’s ability to utilise fat as an energy source during exercise.

9) Vitamin C Benefits for Heart Disease Prevention

Vitamin C contributes to heart health by supporting blood vessel function for proper blood flow and preventing clot formation. It reduces the risk of heart disease by improving cholesterol levels and reducing inflammation.

10) Vitamin C Benefits for Diabetes

Vitamin C may play a role in diabetes management. By regulating blood sugar levels and improving insulin sensitivity, potentially reducing the risk of complications in individuals with diabetes.

Also Read: Symptoms and Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency

Are There Any Side Effect of Taking Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is generally safe when consumed within recommended daily limits from natural sources. However, excessive supplementation may lead to certain side effects.

Some of the side effects of Vitamin C include:

  • Digestive Problems: High doses of Vitamin C, usually from supplements, can cause gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhoea, nausea, cramps, and bloating. Start with lower doses and gradually increase to assess tolerance.
  • Kidney Stones: There is a concern that high Vitamin C intake may increase the risk of kidney stones, particularly in individuals prone to this condition. Excessive Vitamin C can contribute to the formation of oxalate, a component of some kidney stones.
  • Vitamin C Toxicity: Although uncommon, extremely high doses of vitamin C can cause toxicity, causing symptoms like fatigue, headaches, and insomnia. Adults can consume up to 2,000 mg per day.

What Precautions Should be Taken While Taking Vitamin C?

While Vitamin C is essential for various bodily functions and overall health, it’s important to consider certain precautions to ensure optimal and safe usage. It’s crucial to stay within the recommended daily limits if considering supplementation. Excessive doses, especially above the tolerable upper intake level, may lead to adverse effects.

The amount of Vitamin C our body needs can vary if you have a medical condition. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, smokers, and individuals with certain medical conditions may need more Vitamin C intake than usual. Your doctor may recommend Vitamin C supplements to satisfy your daily requirements.

Vitamin C supplements may reduce the absorption of other medicines. For example, large doses of Vitamin C might interfere with the absorption of chemotherapy medications, oral contraceptives or medications for blood thinning, such as warfarin. If you are taking any prescription medication, inform your doctor before taking Vitamin C supplements.

Those with impaired kidney function should exercise caution with Vitamin C supplementation, as excessive amounts can contribute to kidney stone formation. Regular monitoring of kidney function, especially for those with pre-existing kidney conditions, may be required.

How to Include Vitamin C to Your Diet?

Although supplements can be advantageous in specific situations, obtaining nutrients through a balanced diet is a more holistic approach to staying healthy. Incorporating Vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, and peppers into your diet is an excellent way to enjoy its benefits. Vitamin C supplements can also be considered, especially for those with specific health concerns or conditions. 

Here are some delicious and nutritious ways to add this essential vitamin to your meals:

  • Citrus Fruits: Oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes are classic and tasty sources of Vitamin C. Enjoy them as refreshing snacks, squeeze them into your water, or add them to salads.
  • Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are packed with antioxidants and provide a good dose of Vitamin C. Mix them into yoghurt or oatmeal, or eat them alone.
  • Bell Peppers: Colourful bell peppers, especially red ones, are excellent sources of Vitamin C. Include them in your food preparations, salads, or stir-fries or enjoy them as crunchy snacks.
  • Leafy Greens: Incorporate leafy greens like spinach, cabbage, and mustard greens into your meals. These greens not only offer Vitamin C but also provide other essential nutrients.
  • Broccoli: There are many ways to prepare broccoli, including steamed, roasted, or added to various dishes. It’s a good source of Vitamin C and provides additional health benefits.
  • Tomatoes: Whether eaten fresh or added to food, Tomatoes are rich in Vitamin C. They are a versatile ingredient that enhances the flavour of many dishes.
  • Kiwi: Kiwi is a small fruit packed with Vitamin C. Peel and eat it as such or add it to fruit salads for a delightful and nutritious boost.

By including these Vitamin C-rich foods in your diet, you enhance the flavour of your meals and support your immune system, skin health, and overall vitality.

Takeaway

Ensuring a balanced Vitamin C intake through a diverse diet or supplements can contribute to enhanced well-being and the prevention of conditions associated with its insufficiency. While Vitamin C supplements are generally safe, taking those within the recommended dosage guidelines is best. Various forms of Vitamin C supplements are available, including ascorbic acid, calcium ascorbate, and others. Consult your doctor to prescribe you a supplement that suits your preferences and any dietary restrictions you may have. Your doctor will also help you with specific dosing instructions for age, health status, and dietary intake. Vitamin C supplements are generally taken with meals. This can help enhance absorption and reduce the likelihood of stomach upset. It’s crucial to adhere to the timings and not exceed the recommended daily allowance unless advised by your doctor.

References

  1. Vitamin C. (n.d.). Nih.Gov. (Retrieved January 2024). https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/
  2. Vitamin C. (n.d.). Nih.Gov. (Retrieved January 2024). https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-Consumer/
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Our healthcare experts have carefully reviewed and compiled the information presented here to ensure accuracy and trustworthiness. It is important to note that this information serves as a general overview of the topic and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, prevent, or cure any health problem. This page does not establish a doctor-patient relationship, nor does it replace the advice or consultation of a registered medical practitioner. We recommend seeking guidance from your registered medical practitioner for any questions or concerns regarding your medical condition.

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