Vitamin C – How much of it do you really need?
The human body uses a significant amount of vitamin C to alleviate or prevent several forms of infections and inflammation, including colds, pneumonia, herpes outbreaks and many others. Not only that, but vitamin C is also helpful in pretty much all “healing situations” that your body may be going through, effectively shortening the duration of the processes involved. As such, it may be useful to supplement with vitamin C if you’re in a constant state of inflammation due to training and dieting.
In modern agricultural techniques, most of the soil we grow our food in today has been partially stripped of its vitamins and minerals, meaning our food has much less nourishment than it contained say 50 years ago. In order to achieve the required daily values necessary to reap its benefits, you’d need to eat large amounts of specific foods (guavas, kiwis or Barbados cherries, for example), which is simply impossible for most people. Thus, you’ll probably need to supplement with vitamin C. But how much of it should you take daily?
Well, it depends on many factors of your lifestyle but to put it simply:
- 1 – 3g/day for most people living a healthy balanced lifestyle;
- 4 – 10g/day for athletes or people that deal with a lot of free radicals such as smokers;
There are vitamin C supplements available in the form of ascorbic acid, rose hips, calcium ascorbate, sodium ascorbate and acerola. Each of them will claim to be more usable by the body, but in truth they’re all efficient forms of taking vitamin C, and most of them are really affordable.
Just be aware that, while no studies have shown toxicity with high intake of vitamin C, if you take too much of it, you’ll probably experience diarrhea and/or other gut-related symptoms. If you develop any of these conditions while taking high levels just back it off until you reach your tolerated daily intake dosage.
Here are some of the benefits that you should experience from taking adequate amounts of vitamin C:
- A better ability to deal with cancer prevention, wound healing, and damage reduction from pollutants like drugs and cigarette smoke;
- Vitamin C helps ease upper respiratory infections, reduce bronchial restriction, and impaired breathing with allergies and asthma;
- Improved healthy immune system functioning;
- Healthy blood vessel functioning, keeping arterial walls clear from blockage, which in turn reduces risk of heart disease.
- High levels of vitamin C also suppress your body’s release of cortisone, a stress hormone that decreases your testosterone levels and throws your body into a catabolic state;
- Vitamin C supplementation helps with inflammation, meaning you’ll be better recovered for you next training session and get more out of it.
However, vitamin C does not work alone in the body. In order for large doses of vitamin C to be effective, it must first interact with large amounts of vitamins from the B-complex (specially B6 and B12), zinc, folic acid, and choline. That’s why taking a daily multi-vitamin, multi-mineral supplement together is a great idea.
If you do opt to eat your vitamin C from natural sources, just be careful with your carbs, as most of the foods that contain high amounts of vitamin C are fruits and veggies and their carbohydrate contents must be taken into account in your dietary plan.