Vitamin C is often referred to as “ascorbic acid.” It is not produced by the human body, so it must be obtained through foods or supplements containing the vitamin. Vitamin C is naturally-occurring in fresh fruits and vegetables, and can be synthetically produced in a laboratory.
Although Vitamin C can be obtained from supplements, most health care and medical professionals recommend getting it by including fruits and vegetables in the diet. Fresh fruits, such as citrus, or concentrates frozen from fresh citrus are most often recommended over ready-to-drink juices. Processing and age of the juice products dramatically reduces the beneficial vitamin C content. Historically, deficiencies in vitamin C contributed to scurvy. Sailors, who spent long periods of time on ships and whose diets lacked any significant amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, were particularly susceptible to scurvy.
Benefits of Vitamin C
Although the diets of most people have improved nutritionally since the times when scurvy was prevalent, vitamin C deficiency is still part of disease prevention and treatment. Vitamin C has been shown to be necessary for proper development and function of many parts of the body.
The most common use for Vitamin C now is preventing and treating the common cold. It has also been linked to treatment for a number of other diseases and maladies, such as:
- Certain stomach ulcers;
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s; and,
- Problems with absorption of iron from foods (anemia).
It is likely effective, although not comprehensively tested, for other problems, such as:
- Skin aging and wrinkling;
- Skin cancer;
- High blood pressure;
- Macular degeneration;
- Lung infections;
- Circulatory issues;
- Kidney problems; and,
- Geriatric loss of strength.
Vitamin C is considered safe for most people when used in recommended doses or applied topically as directed. For a few people, vitamin C may cause unwanted side effects, such as headache, nausea, heartburn, or stomach cramps. Any dose greater than 2000mg per day is not recommended. Amounts greater than 1000mg per day may contribute to kidney stones.
Certain conditions warrant avoidance of Vitamin C or use only as directed by medical or health care professionals. Those include:
- Surgical heart procedures;
- Blood disorders;
- Kidney stones; and,
- Sickle cell disease.
Ascorbic acid may have an interaction with certain drugs and medications. To avoid problems, use only as directed by medical or health care professionals. The substances include:
- Aluminum (found in most antacids);
- Fluphenazine (Prolixin);
- Cancer medications (Chemotherapy);
- HIV/AIDS medications (Protease Inhibitors);
- Over-the-counter pain relievers (Acetaminophen and aspirin);
- Statins (for lowering cholesterol);
- Niacin; and,
- Wafarin (Coumadin to slow blood clotting).
Uses for Vitamin C
Vitamin C and ascorbic acid are generally recommended as part of a broader health condition treatment or preventative health care regime. Many over-the-counter daily vitamin and mineral tablets contain the recommended dose of Vitamin C to be used in conjunction with a health care program that includes regular exercise, balanced diet, weight management, balanced nutritional supplements of vitamins and minerals, stress management, and regular medical monitoring.
It evident that Vitamin C has been shown in numerous medical studies, treatments, and daily usage to be effective for certain purposes when it is used as directed and in the recommended doses.
Negative effects from Vitamin C use are not expected for most people; however, there are certain medical conditions that may be exacerbated by Vitamin C. If you are using Vitamin C as a supplement or as a topical treatment, be vigilant for changes that might signal an adverse reaction and seek medical attention, if necessary.