In this article:
- What is vitamin C?
- Causes and risk factors of vitamin C deficiency
- Signs of vitamin C deficiency
- Ways to boost your vitamin C levels
Vitamin C is also called ascorbic acid or ascorbate. It's a powerful antioxidant, meaning it protects many areas of our bodies from the harmful effects of free radicals. The benefits of vitamin C are widespread. Vitamin C may help protect against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, eye disease, iron deficiency, and skin wrinkling. Additionally, vitamin C supports the health of your bones and connective tissues including the blood vessels. In addition, it increases the synthesis of collagen, increases the absorption of iron, and is essential to wound healing. We're also learning that people who consistently have adequate levels of vitamin C may be able to retain more muscle mass, especially as they age. When it comes to your workout, getting adequate vitamin C content, either through supplementation or your diet, can reduce muscle soreness, boost energy levels, and prevent blood glutathione oxidation. This helps you power through your routine and reduce your recovery time.
Amazingly, humans and primates lack a certain enzyme which makes them the only mammals that aren't able to synthesize vitamin C in their own bodies. That means that we rely entirely on our diets as our sole source of this important vitamin. A lack of vitamin C can have widespread effects, and you'd be surprised to learn that eating a colorful and healthy diet often doesn't cut it.
A full blown vitamin C deficiency can also be called ascorbic acid deficiency or scurvy. In the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, sailors on long voyages often got scurvy from total vitamin C depletion due to a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables. In severe cases, you can die of scurvy due to poor immune function. It was so common, in fact, that British sailors were given daily rations of lime juice to fortify them through their journeys (before vitamin C was even discovered). Luckily, the prevalence of scurvy is virtually nonexistent today and cases are extremely rare.
With that said, just because we aren't totally deprived doesn't necessarily mean we are getting enough. On top of diet, there are many different things that can affect how much vitamin C is being absorbed and used by the body. Conditions, treatments, or habits that may impair the body's absorption of vitamins and nutrients such as Crohn’s disease, anorexia, anemia, excessive alcohol consumption, ulcerative colitis, chemotherapy, and smoking put you at an increased risk of vitamin C deficiency.
The signs and symptoms of a vitamin C deficiency can be widespread, and some are easier to spot than others. If you don't get enough vitamin C, you may experience one or many of the symptoms below:
If you're experiencing any one or a combination of these symptoms, seek medical advice from your healthcare provider. If they determine that your symptoms are being caused by a vitamin C deficiency, they're likely to recommend supplementation as well as some of the easy lifestyle changes listed below.
The recommended daily intake of vitamin C is 90 mg for non-smoking men, and 75 mg for women who are not pregnant or breastfeeding; women should consume 85 mg of vitamin C during pregnancy and 120 mg while breastfeeding. Smokers need 35 mg more than nonsmokers every day. Keep in mind that optimal doses are highly debated. The tolerable upper intake level (or the maximum amount you can take in a day without causing damage) is about 2000 mg a day. Famously, Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Dr. Linus Pauling recommended and consumed anywhere from 6,000-18,000 mg of Vitamin C for his 93 years of life. A healthy balanced diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables will provide you with about 100 mg of dietary vitamin C, leaving plenty of room for vitamin C supplements to fill in the gaps. You can find vitamin C in:
Dietary supplements are another great option to boost your vitamin C levels and become less dependent on your diet. Vitamin C works hand in hand with another popular wellness supplement, collagen; as an antioxidant, vitamin C protects your body's collagen from oxidative damage while helping the body to synthesize even more collagen molecules. Collagen is a staple supplement for athletes of all backgrounds: from bodybuilders to yogis. As the main structural protein in the human body, it fortifies all the connective tissues in our body while encouraging the growth of lean muscle mass. Together, vitamin C and collagen can help repair sore and damaged muscle tissues, prevent muscle fatigue, and encourage future collagen synthesis for better workouts today and tomorrow, with less pain.
At Amandean, we've formulated the most bioavailable supplements, so you get more bang for your buck and your workout. Our liposomal vitamin C is the optimal size for absorption, as small as 50 nanometers, with up to 90%+ bioavailability. We also prioritize bioavailability with our marine collagen powder that is hydrolyzed down to a low 3000 Dalton molecular weight. Both supplements are free of added sugar, gluten, soy, fat, artificial flavors, and carbs.