Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an essential vitamin that can have a powerful impact on health. From boosting iron absorption to fighting gout flare-ups, there are plenty of reasons to consider adding a vitamin C supplement to your daily routine.
So what are the benefits of taking vitamin C, and how can you pick the best natural vitamin C supplement to get the most bang for your buck? Here’s what you need to know.
Vitamin C Uses
Vitamin C is an important water-soluble vitamin that plays a central role in many aspects of health. Found naturally in a variety of vitamin C foods, such as fruits and vegetables, vitamin C is involved in protein metabolism, collagen synthesis and immune function. It also acts as an antioxidant, helping prevent free radical formation and protect against disease.
For this reason, many choose to use vitamin C supplements for skin health, better immunity, improved heart health and more. In fact, some even turn to vitamin C to aid in the treatment and prevention of a variety of conditions, including cataracts, glaucoma, high blood pressure and respiratory tract infections.
Vitamin C Supplement Benefits
- Promotes Heart Health
- Boosts Iron Absorption
- Rich in Disease-Fighting Antioxidants
- May Reduce Risk of Gout
- Enhances Brain Function
- Supports Immune Health
1. Promotes Heart Health
Studies show that taking an organic vitamin C supplement could help support heart health by decreasing several risk factors of heart disease. For instance, one review out of Illinois showed that supplementing with at least 500 milligrams a day of vitamin C could reduce levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides after just four weeks. Another analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that vitamin C supplementation was effective at decreasing levels of systolic and diastolic blood pressure in adults with hypertension.
2. Boosts Iron Absorption
One of the top vitamin C benefits is its ability to bump up iron absorption to prevent issues like iron-deficiency anemia. In fact, pairing an iron supplement with vitamin C is one of the best ways to maximize absorption of this essential nutrient. Interestingly enough, one study actually found that consuming 100 milligrams of vitamin C alongside a meal increased iron absorption by a whopping 67 percent.
3. Rich in Disease-Fighting Antioxidants
Not only is vitamin C an essential water-soluble vitamin, but it also acts as a powerful antioxidant in the body as well. Antioxidants work to neutralize harmful free radicals in the body, preventing cell damage and protecting against chronic disease. Some research even suggests that antioxidants could be beneficial for the prevention of conditions such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes as well.
4. May Reduce Risk of Gout
Gout is a common form of arthritis that is characterized by pain, redness and swelling in the joints, especially in the big toe. It occurs when uric acid levels are too high, causing crystallization in the joints. One of the lesser known vitamin C supplement benefits is its effect on uric acid levels and its potential to prevent gout flare-ups. In fact, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, supplementing with vitamin C was linked to a lower risk of gout in men.
5. Enhances Brain Function
Some research shows that vitamin C tablets benefit brain health and support healthy aging. For example, studies have actually found that blood levels of vitamin C tend to be lower in people with dementia. What’s more, a study conducted by Utah State University even found that a high antioxidant intake from either food or supplemental sources of vitamin C could slow cognitive delay in older adults. Another study in the Archives of Neurology also showed that the use of vitamin C supplements in combination with vitamin E was associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
6. Supports Immune Health
Taking a vitamin C dietary supplement can be an easy and effective way to keep your immune system working efficiently. Not only has vitamin C been shown to promote faster wound healing, but it may also be beneficial in the treatment of respiratory infections like the common cold. One review out of Switzerland found that getting adequate amounts of vitamin C helped decrease symptoms and shorten the duration of respiratory tract infections. Vitamin C was also able to reduce the incidence of other conditions, including pneumonia, malaria and diarrhea infections.
Vitamin C Dosage
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin C varies based on a number of different factors. For example, it’s recommended that adult men and women get at least 90 milligrams and 75 milligrams of vitamin C per day, respectively. However, women who are pregnant need at least 85 milligrams, and those who are breastfeeding should consume at least 120 milligrams. Smokers also require about 35 milligrams more of vitamin C per day than non-smokers.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that the risk of toxicity is low as excess amounts are typically excreted by the body. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, doses of up to 2,000 milligrams per day are considered safe for most adults.
However, while many supplements contain very high amounts of vitamin C, it’s best to find a product that contains a vitamin C dosage closer to the RDA. When paired with a healthy, well-rounded diet rich in vitamin C foods, this ensures that you meet your needs for this key vitamin.
How to Choose the Best Vitamin C Supplement
So what is the best vitamin C supplement, and how can you make sure you’re really getting a high-quality product that’s worth the price tag?
Many choose to select a whole food vitamin C supplement. This means that the vitamin C is extracted from real food sources. Some consider this the best form of vitamin C supplement as it’s thought to optimize absorption within the body.
Remember to always buy from a reputable retailer and check the consumer reviews carefully to find the best vitamin C supplement brands. In addition to reading some of the best vitamin C supplement reviews, be sure to also check the ingredients label. Ideally, a high-quality, real vitamin C supplement should be free of fillers, additives and preservatives to ensure you get the most for your money.
Side Effects and Precautions
Despite the many benefits of this powerful micronutrient, there are a few vitamin C supplement side effects that need to be considered as well. Although supplementation is generally safe when used as directed, taking very high doses can cause issues like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and headaches. Taking vitamin C supplements can also increase urinary excretion of oxalate, which could increase the risk of kidney stones.
Because vitamin C increases iron absorption, you should consult with your doctor before starting supplementation if you have any conditions that impact iron metabolism, such as hemochromatosis. With these conditions, taking vitamin C could potentially cause iron to accumulate in the body and cause damage to the organs.
Finally, keep in mind that supplements should be used to complement a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle and should not be viewed as a quick fix for better health. If you’re looking to treat or prevent a specific health condition, talk with a trusted health care professional prior to starting supplementation.