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Vitamin C: How It Works, Where It’s In, Who Needs How Much

Vitamin C not only strengthens the immune system – the skin, muscles, and blood vessels also need it to function correctly. All information, plus the essential sources.

That’s Why We Need Vitamin C

Vitamin C – also known as ascorbic acid – is one of the most important vitamins for supporting the human immune system and cell metabolism.

Its primary function is the antioxidant effect, which it has in common with vitamins A and E.

As an antioxidant, vitamin C helps protect the body from free radicals. These oxygen molecules attack human cell structures and are responsible, for example, for premature skin aging.

In addition, vitamin C, along with other harmful substances, inhibits carcinogenic nitrosamines. It improves the absorption of iron and promotes hormone production by the thyroid and adrenal glands.

The vitamin is also crucial for collagen production in connective tissue.

The recommended daily amount is 110mg for men and 95 mg for women. For comparison: Sweet peppers have more than 100 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to meet your daily requirement if you eat a balanced and healthy diet.

According to the German Nutrition Society (DGE), pregnant and breastfeeding women have a higher requirement – here, the recommended intake is 105 mg or 125 mg per day.

The recommended daily intake for smokers is 135 mg for women and 155 mg for men.

Very stressed people, diabetics, allergy sufferers, and rheumatism sufferers should also pay particular attention to good care. In addition, hard workers and competitive athletes can require between 300 to 500 mg/day.

There is no overdose of vitamin C; by the way, when the body has absorbed enough of the water-soluble vitamin, the rest is excreted again.

But: with megadoses of more than 5 grams per day, gastrointestinal disorders can occur. Counterexample: The legendary Linus Pauling consumed around 10 grams per day for years and was known to be above average.

Checking Vitamin C Supplements – Recommended Or Not?

With a few exceptions, nobody needs vitamin C as a dietary supplement. As described, the recommended intake of vitamin C can easily be achieved through diet.

According to the National Consumption Study II data, all age groups in Germany reach or exceed the recommended intake .

However, if you belong to one of the risk groups mentioned and are unsure about your care, speak to your doctor about it.

What Happens With A Vitamin C Deficiency?

Scurvy is probably the best-known vitamin C deficiency disease. It used to be widespread among seafarers and was named after ascorbic acid.

If seafarers were at sea for weeks and months and had hardly any fresh food available, there was a danger of a dangerous deficiency in vitamin C. Later, sauerkraut, for example, was brought along as a preventive measure.

Symptoms of scurvy include weakness of the limbs up to paralysis (usually the legs), bleeding and bleeding in the skin, ulcers (usually on the gums), low blood pressure, iron deficiency, changes in blood clotting, enlargement of the liver, rough skin.

In industrialized nations, scurvy practically no longer occurs, but there are lighter symptoms of vitamin C deficiency:

  • Eyes 

The vitamin C concentration in the eye is very high and serves as an antioxidant to protect against harmful influences, e.g., B. Sunlight. If the defect persists for a long time, the lenses can become cloudy. 

  • Hematoma

Vitamin C is involved in collagen formation and thus also in the structure, regeneration, and maintenance of blood vessels and connective tissue. Typical symptoms of vitamin C deficiency are brittle blood vessels and bleeding, quickly leading to bruises.

  • Skin

decreasing thickness and elasticity, premature aging, and poor wound healing are usually associated with an early stage of ascorbic acid deficiency.

  • Immune system

Vitamin C cannot prevent infections or alleviate the severity. Nevertheless, ascorbic acid supports the immune system. If there is a deficiency, the body’s defenses weaken.

  • Cramps

If there is an insufficient supply of vitamin C, heavily stressed muscles tend to have painful cramps. The calf muscles are most commonly affected.

  • Performance

Vitamin C is involved in the absorption of iron into the body. Among other things, iron is needed to transport oxygen through the blood. This affects the willingness to perform. A lack of vitamin C results in weakness, tiredness, and rapid exhaustion.

  • Gum

bleeding and inflammation of the gums – also known as gingivitis – are apparent signs of vitamin C deficiency. With further progression of the undersupply or the deficiency disease, the teeth can even loosen and fall out.

The Best Vitamin C Suppliers

First of all: Most of us are well supplied with vitamin C because it can be found in many foods. Not just in virus fruits, as most of us know. But, and this is especially interesting in the cold season, also in most types of cabbage.

So if you put a lot of fruit and vegetables on your plate, you will have enough vitamin C in it.

The Extra Boost For Everyday Life

Sea buckthorn, acerola, Aronia, black currant, or rose hips contain a lot of vitamin C. But since they cannot be eaten pure and raw (because they are too sour or inedible due to their consistency), they are usually offered processed into juice – Either as Direct juice, mother juice, or sweetened concentrate.

You can use all of these fruity fit-makers in a variety of ways in the kitchen. Add juice or syrup to muesli, yogurt, quark dishes, or drink them with hot water like a hot lemon. If the fruit juices are too sour for you, you can add a little sweetener. Agave juice or honey is better than regular sugar.

A powder available in the pharmacy is also made from rose hips. It contains all the nutritional components of the hedge fruit: in addition to vitamin C, there is also plenty of beta-carotene and phytochemicals.

This Is How You Get The Best Supply Of Vitamin C

Be careful when preparing vegetables rich in vitamin C, as the vitamin is sensitive to heat, light, and oxygen. Long transport routes and long storage also reduce the vitamin content.

However, a deficiency is unlikely because the water-soluble vitamin is added to foods under the name ascorbic acid to make them more durable. There are also many ACE products on the market with added vitamin C, such as juices.

Tip: Grandma always had a glass of orange juice with oatmeal for breakfast. Vitamin C from oranges is particularly good at promoting iron absorption from oat flakes. Did Grandma already know that? No matter – the station wagon is still great.

Vitamin C Does Not Protect Against Colds

An insufficient intake of vitamin C can, among other things, make noticeable an increased susceptibility to infection. So it’s no wonder that the extra portion is considered a miracle cure for colds in the cold season.

However, as important as vitamin C is for a functioning defense system, taking vitamin C or vitamin C preparations in high doses of at least 200 mg/day can prevent colds has not yet been scientifically proven. Nor that the intake shortens the duration of the cold! THEREFORE, the DGE does not recommend routine preparation information for the prevention and treatment of colds.

International research coincides with the DGE’s assessment. Scientists from the Australian National University and the University of Helsinki subjected 30 international studies with more than 11,000 participants to a meta-analysis. All studies deal with the protective effect of vitamin C against colds.

Result: The vitamin is practically powerless against regular colds. The dose does not play a role either. The daily dose of vitamin C ranged from 200 milligrams to two grams per day in the individual studies considered.

“So there is no point in swallowing a vitamin preparation every day to ward off colds all year round,” says study author Harri Hemilä.

The daily dose of ascorbic acid is only helpful for people who are exposed to extraordinary stress. Thanks to vitamin C, marathon runners and soldiers only got half as many colds as the control group in extreme weather.

For The Soul

Vitamin C can do more than strengthen the immune system: it has been shown to improve the mood of patients. A study by Canadian scientists at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal provided an entirely new argument for consuming a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, especially in the dark times of the year.


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