- It helps maintain healthy bones, cartilage, teeth and gums.
- It acts as a potent antioxidant and protects cells and tissues from the damaging effects of free radicals.
- It has an anti-aging effect on the skin and organs.
- It boosts the immune system and helps recover faster from infections.
- It aids the healing of wounds and burns.
- It helps maintain healthy blood vessels.
- It helps absorb iron from the gut.
- It aids the formation of important chemical messengers in the nervous system (neurotransmitters).
- It helps generate energy in the body by contributing to the formation of carnitine (a compound that helps release energy from fats in the body).
- It helps form steroid hormones in the adrenal glands.
- It helps prevent cardiovascular diseases.
- It helps maintain eye health.
Owing to the various health benefits, particularly the antioxidant role of vitamin C, it is popularly given to patients with serious infections, including COVID-19. Studies suggest that vitamin C supplementation helps reduce the inflammatory markers (chemicals that increase during inflammation in the body), limits disease progression and help recover faster from viral and fungal infections.
Vitamin C is being used as a part of COVID-19-associated acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS (a severe lung condition). However, there is not enough data from clinical trials to support its use for this condition.
Being a potent antioxidant, vitamin C also protects from cancers, such as breast and skin cancer. There is, however, not enough evidence about taking high doses of vitamin C to treat cancer. Vitamin C in high doses may rather interfere with chemotherapy. Hence, ask your doctor if you are on chemotherapy and taking vitamin C supplements.
How much vitamin C do you need every day?
The average daily requirement of vitamin C is expressed as recommended dietary allowance or RDA. It is the average daily amount of vitamin C an individual needs to meet the daily requirements.
|0 to 6 months*||40|
|7 to 12 months*||50|
|1 to 3 years||15|
|4 to 8 years||25|
|9 to 13 years||45|
|14 to 18 years (males)||75|
|14 to 18 years (females)||65|
|19 years and older (males)||90|
|19 years and older (females)||75|
|*Vitamin C requirements of infants should be met through the diet.|
|Pregnant teens and adolescents (14 to 18 years old)||80 mg|
|Pregnant women (19 years old and older)||85 mg|
|Lactating or breastfeeding teens and adolescents (14 to 18 years old)||115 mg|
|Lactating or breastfeeding women (19 years old and older)||120 mg|
|Smokers||Additional 35 mg beyond the RDA as smoking depletes vitamin C levels in the body|
Is it safe to take 500 mg of vitamin C daily?
The maximum amount of vitamins you can safely take every day is defined as the tolerable upper intake level or UL. The UL for vitamin C for most adults is 2000 mg per day. Hence, you can safely consume 500 mg of vitamin C each day.
Nonetheless, the UL may be lower in certain situations, such as toddlers, children, adolescents, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions (such as kidney diseases). Thus, you must consult your doctor about how much vitamin C you need to consume each day. Higher doses of vitamin C may be needed to treat certain medical conditions (such as scurvy) or in certain clinical trials under medical supervision.
Excess of vitamin C beyond what is required by the body may lead to undesirable effects, such as:
- Abdominal cramps
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Acid reflux (heartburn)
- Lack of appetite
- Lack of sleep (insomnia)
- Joint pain
There is also a risk of unwanted drug–vitamin C interactions in case you take medicines, such as acetaminophen, certain antacids, anxiety medications (barbiturates) or blood thinners (warfarin) over the long term along with vitamin C.
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