The Importance of Vitamin C
It (nearly) goes without saying that Vitamin C is one of the safest and most effective nutrients for the human body. It may not be the cure for the common cold (though some experts would say that it is!), but the benefits of vitamin C may include protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling. We’ll touch base on some of its benefits later.
Vitamin C has received a great deal of attention over the past few years (and way before that of course), and with good reason.
University of Michigan researcher Dr. Mark Moyad MD has said that higher levels of vitamin C in your blood may be the ideal nutrition marker for overall health. He further states that “The more we study vitamin C, the better our understanding of how diverse it is in protecting our health, from eye health, cancer, stroke, and cardiovascular health.”
Vitamin C has been shown to increase neutrophil function (which is basically the support of white blood cells that fight infection) and it also boosts T-cell production (a type of white blood cell that is key in our immune response system).
When you are infected with a virus, there is a higher level of damage from oxidation. Vitamin C protects against and minimizes that oxidation.
One of the best attributes of Vitamin C is that is also plays a key role in halting the replication of viruses!
It’s important to note that many conclusions about the efficacy of Vitamin C have been drawn based on research done on animals rather than humans. That said, there is a great consensus that Vitamin C can shorten the length of a cold and reduce the severity of symptoms. Can it PREVENT a cold? We’ll explore that in a minute!
The Health Benefits of Vitamin C
There are dozens of health benefits of this crucial vitamin and more benefits are being found through continuous research. Here is a partial list;
1. Stress – “A recent meta-analysis showed vitamin C was beneficial to anyone whose immune system was weakened due to stress. Because vitamin C is one of the nutrients sensitive to stress, and is the first nutrient to be depleted in alcoholics, smokers, and obese individuals, it makes it an ideal marker for overall health.”
2. Colds – When it comes to the common cold, vitamin C may not be a cure. However, some studies show that it may help prevent more serious complications. “There is good evidence taking vitamin C for colds and flu can reduce the risk of developing further complications, such as pneumonia and lung infections,” says Dr. Moyad.
3. Stroke – Although research has been conflicting, one study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those with the highest concentrations of vitamin C in their blood were associated with 42% lower stroke risk than those with the lowest concentrations. The reasons for this are not completely clear. But what is clear is that people who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables have higher blood levels of vitamin C.
Unfortunately, my Father-in-Law recently passed away due to a stroke, and he was not one to take natural nutrition and Vitamin C very seriously. This is not proof that Vitamin C is effective against stroke, but it sure was compelling anecdotal evidence for our family!
“People who consume more fruit and vegetables will not only have higher [blood] levels of vitamin C, but higher intake of other nutrients potentially beneficial to health, such as fiber and other vitamins and minerals,” study researcher Phyo K. Myint (Professor of Internal Medicine and Geriatric Medicine, University of Aberdeen) said in an email interview.
4. Skin Aging. Vitamin C affects cells on the inside and outside of the body. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined links between nutrient intakes and skin aging in over 4000 women aged 40-74. It found that higher vitamin C intakes were associated with a lower likelihood of a wrinkled appearance, dryness of the skin, and a better skin-aging appearance.
Other studies have suggested that vitamin C may also:
- Improve macular degeneration.
- Reduce inflammation.
- Reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Vitamin C’s Role in the Body
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. It is necessary for the growth, development and repair of all body tissues. It’s involved in many body functions, including absorption of iron, formation of collagen, healing of wounds, the immune system, and the maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.
Vitamin C is one of several antioxidants that can protect against damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals, as well as dangerous pollutants like cigarette/cigar/pipe smoke and other toxic chemicals. Free radicals can build up and contribute to the development of health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and arthritis just to name a few.
Vitamin C is not stored in the body (excess amounts are excreted), so overdose is not a concern. Some researchers have suggested that taking more than 2000 mg of Vitamin C per day can cause some people to have mild stomach problems like diarrhea.
We’ll touch more on dosages in a minute, but might I add that most adults in North America suffer more from constipation due to a poor diet. And, while the author if this article (AKA – “ME”) has never experienced stomach issues with 5000 mg daily, it may be better to have diarrhea than constipation. At least you’re getting rid of the waste from your body!
Water-soluble vitamins must be continuously supplied in the diet to maintain healthy levels. Eat vitamin-C-rich fruits and vegetables raw, or cook them with minimal water so you don’t lose some of the water-soluble vitamin in the cooking water.
Vitamin C is easily absorbed both in food and in pill form, and it can enhance the absorption of iron when the two are eaten together.
The deficiency of vitamin C is relatively rare, and primarily seen in malnourished adults. In extreme cases, it can lead to scurvy — characterized by weakness, anemia, bruising, bleeding, and loose teeth.
So What’s the Controversy?
It’s hard to believe that a compound so crucial to our bodies as Vitamin C could be controversial, but there is one area in which a controversy seems to persist. That is the question of whether or not Vitamin C is effective in preventing or reducing the length and severity of the common cold.
It’s quite possible (according to some) that the idea of Vitamin C being helpful in treating or preventing a cold is so engrained in our collective psyche, that when it does work, we are really only observing a placebo effect.
We’ve already established that Vitamin C is an element that we need but don’t create on our own, so it’s important (that part is not controversial). We’ve also seen the incredibly beneficial role it plays in helping us deal with a common cold.
In fact, over 300 metabolic functions depend on Vitamin C, so I’ve never actually met anyone (or even heard of anyone) who say’s it’s not important for us.
So what’s the controversy? Well, it seems to revolve around a couple of issues like whether or not a HIGH dose of vitamin C is more beneficial, and to what extent? Can we continue to increase dosages indefinitely for increased benefits?
Will high doses of Vitamin C actually prevent a cold? These are a few of the “controversial” issues about which there is no agreement across the board.
However, in all my research, I’ve been able to formulate a pretty decent (I think) macro view of the situation. It seems like there are some legitimate, peer-reviewed studies that show HIGHER doses of Vitamin C really do have a proportionally great positive effect on our bodies.
How Much to Take?
Some skeptical researchers have concluded that any does over 3000 mg is not helpful and a waste of money, but other studies show that mega-doses of the vitamin can protect our bodies against cancer-causing oxidation and it even regenerates other antioxidants in our bodies.
In fact, back in 2013, researchers concluded that high doses of Vitamin C taken intravenously may benefit cancer patients. And, a different study in 2015 confirmed those findings.
There seems to be controversy and disagreement over how much is beneficial, how much is perfect, how much is a waste of money and how much is actually harmful.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for men over the age of 19, is 90 mg. I was taught in Kinesiology class that the minimum dosage for effectiveness was 250mg which changed to 1000 mg a few years later. Hmm…. who’s right?
The NIH also says that the MAXIMUM dosage for adults is 2000 mg, but far too many studies show effectiveness continues beyond 2000 mg.
Did you know that a 150 lb animal makes over 15,000 mg of Vitamin C for use in their body? Why? It makes no sense that either God or “evolution” (depending on your world view and belief system) would give a creature 100 times more of a vitamin than they need! Hmmm….
What Can Happen if I Take High Doses? (The Bad)
While I’m a big fan of high Vitamin C dosage (I’ve used it intravenously as well), it’s only fair to explain the potential downsides of high doses.
There is something called “rebounding scurvy symptoms” which is something that can happen if you set yourself up for “the perfect storm”. In other words, if you take very high doses of Vitamin C for long periods of time, then stop taking Vitamin C altogether (quit cold turkey), your body may have a hard time adapting to such a sudden decrease. This may result in symptoms typical of scruvy, like bulging eyes and loose teeth.
In addition, some evidence would suggest that those with chronic kidney or liver conditions might be cautious about high dosages of Vitamin C since there’s a possibility you could develop kidney stones. Anyone with these conditions would probably benefit from the vitamin with just around 1000 mg a day.
What Can Happen if I Take High Doses? (The Good)
While RDA’s for Vitamin C hover under 100 mg (for an adult male who typically weighs over 150 lbs), it’s interesting to note that a 150 lb animal creates around 15,000 mg of Vitamin C for their own use (as referenced earlier). What does that say about our recommended daily allowances?
I’ll leave you to your thoughts on that one! ….
High dose vitamin C has been reported to help ward off infections like the flu, treat the flu, promote collagen production and reduce the side-effects of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.
Patients adhering to nutrition-rich programs are known to have less side effects, suffer less nausea and benefit from reduced pain and swelling following radiation. They also benefit from faster healing after surgery because vitamin C promotes collagen production and collagen production promotes healing!
Yet it is incredibly unfortunate most oncologists do not promote vitamin C, leaving patients to draw the false conclusion that, “if my oncologist doesn’t support vitamin C, it has no merit.” Our answer to that is “huh?”
There have been many orthomolecular physicians such as Dr. Hugh Riordan, Dr. Ron Hunninghake, Dr. Abram Hoffer, Dr. Robert F. Cathcart, Dr. Linus Pauling, Dr. Thomas Levy, Dr. Andrew Saul and Dr. Suzanne Humphries that have championed its effectiveness and believe that I.V. vitamin C and high dosed oral vitamin C are helpful treatments to have in ones arsenal when boosting natural immunity, battling cancer, minimizing the side effects of chemotherapy, combating high cholesterol and of course fighting viral and bacterial infections
How to Get More Vitamin C in Your Diet
This antioxidant super-nutrient is found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. Yet, according to dietary intake data and the 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines, most adults don’t get enough vitamin C in their diets. This is especially true of smokers and non-Hispanic black males, according to research done by Jeff Hampl, PhD, RD, and colleagues at the University of Arizona.
While a cup of orange juice or a half-cup of red pepper would be enough to meet your RDA for Vitamin C, here are all the foods and beverages you’d need to consume to reach 2000 mg or as much as 15,000 mg if you’re fighting serious infections:
- Cantaloupe, 1 cup (8 ounces): 59mg
- Orange juice, 1 cup: 97mg
- Broccoli, cooked, 1 cup: 74mg
- Red cabbage, 1/2 cup: 40mg
- Green pepper, 1/2 cup, 60mg
- Red pepper, 1/2 cup, 95mg
- Kiwi, 1 medium: 70mg
- Tomato juice, 1 cup: 45mg.
Can you see how hard it would be to hit the higher target doses recommended by many health professionals?
The foods richest in vitamin C are citrus fruits, green peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, white potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Other good sources include dark leafy greens, cantaloupe, papaya, mango, watermelon, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, red peppers, raspberries, blueberries, winter squash, and pineapples.
Here are eight easy ways to work more fruits and veggies into your diet each day:
- Add pureed or grated fruits and veggies to recipes for muffins, meatloaf, and soups.
- Keep cut-up fruits and veggies on hand so they are ready for a quick snack.
- Frozen fruit slices make a cool summer treat.
- Include dark lettuce, tomatoes, and shredded broccoli slaw on all your sandwiches and wraps.
- Eat raw veggies with hummus, low-fat dips, and salsas.
- Add fresh or frozen berries to muffins, pancakes, cereal, and salads.
- Throw a handful of dried fruit on top of your cereal or in a baggie with nuts for an easy snack.
- Enjoy a glass of vegetable juice as a filling and low-calorie mid-afternoon snack.
The bottom line? “There is no one silver bullet vitamin, mineral, or nutrient. Eating a varied diet rich in all the nutrients is the best strategy for good health.”
Vitamin C is imperative for a healthy functioning immune system. Getting truly sufficient amounts can be daunting, particularly so during times of illness, when the body’s immune system needs increased immune support throughout the day….Yes, you read that correctly…throughout the day!
What About Timing?
Vitamin C is not stored for very long given it is a water-soluble vitamin. Therefore we must be unrelenting in our dosing for sufficient support.
It is a sad (but VERY TRUE) reality that many patients actually lie in hospital beds trying to fight off infections, but rarely if ever are prescribed vitamin C, which is imperative for the immune system to fight infections. Unfortunately, most medical systems (this is changing in some facilities) do not recognize natural element supplements like vitamins and minerals to be a legitimate and effective solution in Western health care.
We all know to include vitamin C in our diet to avoid Scurvy, but the sorely low recommended daily allowance (RDA) can do little more than even that.
It can’t adequately support an immune system that needs to combat viruses and bacteria on a daily basis, all-year-round…and certainly cannot support chronic disease prevention! This is why the idea that ramping up immune support exclusively in the colder months can be very detrimental to a starving immune system.
Traditional doctors rarely if ever promote the importance of vitamin C in the prevention or treatment of the various infections and chronic ailments that abound. If you need proof of this statement, just think back to a time that you or a family member might have been suffering and/or even hospitalized with an infection.
Was vitamin C prescribed? If so, how much? Consider yourself one of the very lucky few if your answer is “yes” and even luckier if the dosage offered came close to 15,000 mg. when in fact 15,000 mg. of vitamin C when ill is often not even enough!
How Can We Digest and Summarize All This Information?
Okay, so let’s just wrap it up as neatly as we can. What’s my takeaway after nearly 50 years of real-life experience as an athlete and natural nutrition enthusiast? …Oh, and did I mention dozens of hours of online digging?
Here’s the deal; If you suffer from kidney or liver conditions, take a high quality, water-soluble Vitamin C powder at a dose of around 1000 mg to be safe and keep you out of the realm of controversy.
If you do not experience such conditions, we suggest you take at least 4000 mg daily, but ideally, bump that up to as much as 8000 mg using a very high-quality supplement powder like Sufficient-C.
Then, if and when you decide (for whatever reason) to reduce that intake, don’t quit Vitamin C altogether and abruptly. If you do, you may experience negative symptoms of mild scurvy. Instead, decrease dosages slowly, though we would strongly encourage you to keep on with Vitamin C to experience disease and cancer-fighting protection, unlike any other element!
Our Top 7 Best Vitamin C Powder Options!
Sufficient-C makes the top of our list for several reasons. The first is that it contains a high dose of soluble Vitamin C in a very small scoop. We believe that a high dose (over 2000 mg) is essential to maintain optimal health and to ward off chronic diseases. In addition to its high dose, Sufficient-C contains crucial elements like L-Lysine, Bromelain and Green Tea Extract. Of course, it’s non-GMO.
Because most vitamin C powders are 100% Ascorbic Acid, they are often harder to drink because of both their solubility levels (usually lots of powder left on the bottom of your glass) and more importantly, they are quite sour, tart and acidic, and not as palatable as a drink mix. Sufficient-C tastes like peach lemonade and it is VERY easy to give to kids. Our kids beg for more after every glass. Honestly, it tastes like a powdered, kids “junk food” drink mix which we all love but that are SO bad for you. Sufficient-C contains Stevia extract which is the ONLY sweetener we’ve found in the world (literally) that is not only “not bad for you” but it’s used by some health professionals as a nutrient supplement!
Stevia is the only sweetener that will also NOT RAISE BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS!
Sufficient-C is by far the best tasting Vitamin drink we’ve ever tasted, but more importantly, it has supporting nutrients/elements for immune support beyond simply Ascorbic Acid.
As if that was not enough, the Riordan Clinic in Kansas has endorsed Sufficient-C wholeheartedly. Here’s what one of the doctors said:
“In the three years that the Riordan Clinic has carried Sufficient C in our Nutrient Store we continue to be surprised with just how popular it is with our patients. Being well known for our work with Vitamin C we have a whole line up of Vitamin C options. Sufficient C has quickly risen to be one of our top selling products – not just for Vitamin C but in general! We have samples at each of our water stations and get such positive feedback on the flavor as well as efficacy. We are proud of the partnership between the Riordan Clinic and Sufficient C. We are proud to partner with Caralyn and the Sufficient C brand for a great product, a trustworthy business relationship and unprecedented customer service.”
NOTE: You can buy Sufficient-C on Amazon from time to time, but we would STRONGLY suggest you save over $50 on a 6-month supply by CLICKING HERE. It’s a way better deal to get 6 at a time and I GUARANTEE you won’t be disappointed with the flavor, efficacy, and science behind Sufficient-C. It’s the only Vitamin C (powder or pill) that makes it through the front door of my house! (and Sufficient-C is not paying me for the endorsement either!)
Designs for Health is about the closest competitor we could find for the king of the castle at our #1 position. It doesn’t have a perfect rating on Amazon and there are only about 2 dozen ratings as opposed to many hundreds for other brands. Nevertheless, we chose Designs for Health because it follows our research in promoting a high dose of at least 2000 mg per scoop and also having supporting nutrients like alkalizing minerals. This powder is a buffered substance which means that because of the alkalizing qualities of Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium, there is far less “acidity” in the powder which makes it easier to drink and have less potential for upset stomach.
As all of the products on our list, Designs for Health buffered Vitamin C powder is non-GMO, Gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly. The company is proud of its GMP status (Good Manufacturing Practices) and is compliant with all FDA inspections.
While we like what this powder seems to offer, there are multiple reviewers who complained about its bitter flavor (I haven’t tried this one personally … YET!). It might we worth a shot, but honestly, for about $5 more for a month’s supply, you can have the Rolls Royce of C powder in Sufficient-C.
Bronson makes it to the top of Amazon’s list of powders given a high customer rating. It offers 1000 mg doses so we know Bronson at least understands the absurdity of suggesting 75 mg (the official recommendation) for an adult woman … or 90 mg for a man. It is Non-GMO and is made right here in the USA! Bronson has been around since 1960 and is proud of its heritage of quality that stands the test of time. We agree!
Nutricost is another highly-rated brand according to Amazon users and also offers a standard 1000 mg serving size. The 2-pound container gives you 907 servings of pure, high-quality Ascorbic Acid. It’s Gluten-free and Non-GMO as we would expect and it’s advertised as being good for cooking! I’ve never thought of that for my cooking needs! It’s made in a GMP compliant facility (Good Manufacturing Practices) and it delivers exactly what it promises. Good quality and “only what you need – nothing you don’t”.
GMO Free Vitamins offers us another fine product which is also (like the previous two) great quality Ascorbic Acid. It’s manufactured by a Dutch company using the highest grade of Quali-C which is ultra-fine powder with L-Ascorbic Acid. They do offer a bit of a flavor though it doesn’t stand up to Sufficient-C’s flavor and solubility. It does dissolve better than other competitors on the market, however. Like most others, one scoop is 1000 mg which is a good start, but we’d like to see 1 scoop with at least twice the dose and some supporting elements.
If you know who Dr. Robert Cathcart is, then this is his preferred (form of) Vitamin C, and as expected, it’s GMO-free (hence the name) and Vegan. This is as good a choice as the previous 2 on our list, but it’s not Sufficient-C.
Alright, we admit it! This powder is a bit of a deviation from our previous 5 offerings, but hear me out! The SuperBeets powder has very close to the “official” recommended daily dose of Vitamin C. It contains 50 mg of C which is 83% of the RDA. With this low amount, we would suggest eating a diet that is high in plant-based, whole foods high in Vitamin C. That said, HumanN Superbeets Superfood packs a VERY healthy punch beyond just Vitamin C. We REALLY like the fact that it gives us an ultra-dose of Nitric Oxide and supports healthy blood pressure levels, promotes energy and stamina, blood circulation and antioxidant concentration.
Each serving contains the nutrients of 3 whole beets, and beets are emerging as one of nature’s top superfoods and almost no one produces enough Nitric Oxide which is crucial to your optimal health. HumanN Superfood is a highly concentrated source of dietary nitrates which is exactly what your body needs to create Nitric Oxide!
We also love the focus this company has on the science behind the product rather than just marketing or gimmicks. And yes, it’s Gluten-free, non-GMO and Vegan!
Here’s another powder that adds a bit of a twist to Vitamin C powder in that you’ll get a good dose of other vitamins and minerals. This Alfa Vitamins powder mix offers up 1000 mg of Vitamin C, but also sneaks in 11 grams of Collagen, 5000 IU of Vitamin D3, and 50 mg of Zinc. This is a potent immune system boost while contributing to your protein intake and skin health.
It has a natural orange flavor and a very generous Amino acid profile. The only thing we’re not super-thrilled about is the inclusion of 5 grams of straight-up “SUGAR” per serving. While it does contain Stevia which we REALLY like, the Stevia is way down on the list of ingredients. The non-GMO and Gluten-free status is welcome and expected.
This is a good option for those looking to stretch their supplement dollar as much as possible and are not looking to meticulously balance their blood sugars (as in “diabetic”). If that scenario fits your profile, this may be the mix for you!
If you’re sure I’ve missed something crucial, then please send me a message or comment and I’ll look into it. Until then, We hope we’ve been able to launch you in the right direction to research and find a great Vitamin C powder to get you started in your journey to a higher level of serious immunity-boosting lifestyle.