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Versatile Vitamin C 
Battle Stress, Burns, and Colds with One Vitamin

 

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that has a number of biological functions. The recommended daily allowance is 75 mg per day for women and 90 mg per day for men but in cases of illness larger doses are usually safe.

Protect yourself from harmful ultraviolet rays by taking daily supplements of 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin E and 2,000 to 3,000 mg of vitamin C during periods of high sun exposure. Studies have also shown 1 to 4 grams a day may make your cold shorter and less severe. Help normalize stress-hormone levels by taking 1 to 3 grams of vitamin C every day.

Where is it found?
Broccoli, red peppers, currants, Brussels sprouts, parsley, potatoes, citrus fruit, and strawberries are good sources of vitamin C.

Who is likely to be deficient?
Although scurvy (severe vitamin C deficiency) is uncommon in Western societies, many doctors believe that most people consume less than optimal amounts. Fatigue, easy bruising, and bleeding gums are early signs of vitamin C deficiency that occur long before frank scurvy develops. Smokers have low levels of vitamin C and require a higher daily intake to maintain normal vitamin C levels. Women with preeclampsia have been found to have lower blood levels of vitamin C than women without the condition. Women who have lower blood levels of vitamin C have an increased risk of gallstones.

How much is usually taken?
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin C in nonsmoking adults is 75 mg per day for women and 90 mg per day for men. For smokers, the RDAs are 110 mg per day for women and 125 mg per day for men. In terms of heart disease prevention, as little as 100–200 mg of vitamin C appears to be adequate. Some vitamin C experts propose that adequate intake be considered 200 mg per day because of evidence that the cells of the human body do not take up any more vitamin C when larger daily amounts are used.

On the basis of extensive analysis of published vitamin C studies, researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University have called for the RDA to be increased, but only to 120 mg. This same report reveals that "90–100 mg vitamin C per day is required for optimum reduction of chronic disease risk in nonsmoking men and women."

The studies that ascertained approximately 120–200 mg daily of vitamin C is correct for prevention purposes in healthy people have typically not investigated whether people suffering from various diseases can benefit from larger amounts. In the case of the common cold, a review of published trials found that amounts of 2 grams per day in children appear to be more effective than 1 gram per day in adults, suggesting that large intakes of vitamin C may be more effective than smaller amounts, at least for this condition.

Are there any side effects or interactions?
Some people develop diarrhea after as little as a few grams of vitamin C per day, while others are not bothered by ten times this amount. Strong scientific evidence to define and defend an upper tolerable limit for vitamin C is not available. A review of the available research concluded that high intakes (2–4 grams per day) are well-tolerated by healthy people. However, intake of large amounts of vitamin C can deplete the body of copper—an essential nutrient. People should be sure to maintain adequate copper intake at higher intakes of vitamin C. Copper is found in many multivitamin-mineral supplements. Vitamin C helps recycle the antioxidant vitamin E.

People with the following conditions should consult their doctor before supplementing with vitamin C: glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, iron overload (hemosiderosis or hemochromatosis), history of kidney stones, or kidney failure.

 


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