There is no doubt that vitamin C is of great benefit to us for many reasons. Recently, I have heard of many people taking large doses of vitamin C for immune support. The problem is we don’t absorb large amounts of the most comon forms in supplements very well.
Are you making expensive pee with your vitamin C supplement?
Bioavailbility of some supplements is as little as 14-30% and this decreases sharply with intakes above 200mg . The government recommended minimum for dietary vitamin C to prevent scurvy is just 40mg. Adequate amounts can be obtained from just five servings of high vitamin C foods such as kiwi, berries, broccoli and citrus fruits.
The medical trials you may have read about in the media have all involved intravenous vitamin C in very large doses. Supplements made with the most comon forms of vitamin C that contain over 500mg may have a laxitive effect. It can cause gastric upset, wind and diarrhoea! Our body can only absorb a certain amount of vitamin C at a time when we take it orally. Any excess is just excreted in urine, making expensive pee!
Why do we need vitamin C?
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that has an important role in supporting our health and immunity. It supports immune function by up regulating immune cells. Vitamin C is also associated with the prevention of respiritory tract infections. It may help to increase recovery time by reducing the duration of the infection.
Vitamin C has anti-microbial properties and may inhibit fungi and virus replication. It supports healthy energy production and has been shown to be protective against cardiovascular disease and hypertension. The anti-oxidant capability of vitamin C helps support blood vessels and inflammation modulation. It plays an important role in skin health, including supporting the formation of the skin barrier and collegen. Vitamin C also provides antioxidant protection against UV photo-damage to skin.
How can you increase your vitamin C?
I always advise clients to focus on food first. Food provides our body with the synergestic nutrients it needs for health. A healthy diet can help support our immune system and recovery from illness such as viruses and infections. Try to eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables. I normally advise my clients to aim for 6 portions of vegetables, including leafy greens, and up to 3 portions of fruit daily. Aim for as much variety as possible to support your gut health and immune function. Colourful fruit and vegetables are not just delicious. They also contain polyphenols and flavanoids which feed the beneficial bacteria important for our gut health. A healthy gut will help strengthen your immune system so that it can work efficiently.
Do you still want a vitamin C supplement?
If you don’t eat enough fruit and veg and you want to supplement vitamin C there are some forms that are better absorbed. Liposomal forms are normally better absorbed but tend to be the most expensive. The other option is look for a timed release capsule that also contains bioflavanoids to aid absorption. Nutritional supplements may not be suitable for some people and may intefer with medications. If you want to find out more about using vitamin C and other ways to support your immune system contact a Nutritional Therapist for personalised advice.