The Many Uses of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient and antioxidant necessary to many aspects of your health, including adrenal function; carbohydrate metabolism; formation and repair of bone, skin and all other tissues; cardiovascular fitness; immune function; and the production of hormones and neurotransmitters. It helps your body absorb iron, which is needed to make red blood cells, and speeds the healing of burns, wounds and scars. It is the major water-soluble antioxidant responsible for preventing oxidative damage to cell membranes throughout your body.
The highest concentrations are found in your adrenal glands, eyes and brain. Stress, cold, pollution, smoking and alcohol consumption all cause vitamin C to be used up at a more rapid rate, making less available for critical activities like immune responses and adrenal function. Bioflavonoids normally occur in nature with vitamin C and greatly enhance its activity and anti- oxidant strength. However, vitamin C and bioflavonoids are not manufactured by the human body and, therefore, have to be regularly replenished through food or supplements.
Vitamin C and Stress
Vitamin C is so essential to your adrenal glands and your ability to cope with stress that if you do not make vitamin C available to your body through supplementation and diet, adrenal hormone production cannot begin or continue. When your adrenal glands are unable to make the additional adrenal hormones required to maintain you during stressful times, you will feel worse and take longer to recover. Because there are so many other tissues in your body that also need increased vitamin C during any kind of stress, an adequate supply of it is vital to your ability to respond properly. If you find yourself in one of the following stressful situations, it can be helpful to take extra vitamin C:
- If you feel yourself starting to come down with a cold or respiratory infection, it is a good idea to start taking vitamin C right away. This not only aids your immune system in fighting the infection, but it helps your adrenals to respond to the stressful situation in your body created by the infection.
- If you know you are going to be up late
- If you are stressed for an examination or work even
- If you are going through an emotional crisis or have to push yourself
- If you are injured, ill or going through surgery
- If you are experiencing adrenal fatigue
Cautions with Vitamin C
As you take more supplemental vitamin C your body adapts to this higher level of vitamin C. Therefore, if you later decrease your vitamin C intake, do it gradually. A sudden drop in vitamin C can lead to deficiency symptoms even when your actual vitamin C intake is well above the recommended quantity. Decrease your intake by 500 mg, or less, every three to five days until you reach your desired daily amount. If you begin experiencing unusual weakness, swollen gums or easy bruising, it could mean you are decreasing too fast and should temporarily increase your amount of vitamin C and bioflavonoids. Then step down the dosage more slowly. Just as your body adapts to an increase in vitamin C, it will also adapt to a decrease in vitamin C. However, it takes about twice as long for the body to get used to the decrease as it does to the increase.
This applies to babies whose bodies also adapt to whatever level of vitamin C their mothers are taking. If a mother has been taking high doses of vitamin C during her pregnancy or while nursing, the baby may need to be given gradually decreasing amounts of vitamin C/bioflavonoids from birth, if bottle fed, or at weaning, if breast fed.
If you are on blood thinners, monitor your blood clotting. Vitamin C works with vitamin E and other antioxidants to decrease blood clotting and coagulation.
The Myth About Vitamin C in Oranges
There is a myth about the amount of vitamin C in oranges. Not only have there been questions about the actual content of vitamin C contained in the juice compared to label claims, but the amount of vitamin C contained in the orange dissipates with time. After oranges are harvested and remain in storage for two months, only a small percentage of the original amount of vitamin C remains. This dissipation during storage occurs with all fresh foods and vitamin C is also destroyed by heat and exposure to air. In addition, the bioflavonoids in fruit are found mostly in the white part on the inside of the rind that is usually not eaten, rather than in the juicy part of the fruit that usually is consumed. Commercially, orange juice made without the rind lacks the appropriate amount of bioflavonoids. Orange juice made with the skin, including the rind (the most common method), from non-organically grown fruit often contains chemical residues and sprays which may adversely affect some people. Orange juice – and fruit juice in general – is specifically not recommended for people experiencing adrenal fatigue because it raises blood sugar too quickly followed by a subsequent abrupt drop.
Because stress can dramatically increase your need for vitamin C, especially in your adrenal glands, the most reliable way to ensure you are getting enough when you are stressed or experiencing adrenal fatigue is through supplementation. The optimum form of supplemental vitamin C to look for is a true sustained release supplement that provides a gradual, steady supply of vitamin C, with a 1:2 ratio of bioflavonoids to vitamin C to enhance its activity, and trace minerals to balance the acidity the of vitamin C so it’s easier on your stomach.