What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. Vitamin C helps boost several of your immune system cells to fight off infections, common colds. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant which helps with the prevention of catching more severe illnesses like pneumonia. Supplemental vitamin C may also lessen the duration and symptoms of a common cold, help delay or prevent cataracts, and support healthy immune function.
What does Vitamin C do?
Vitamin C helps to repair and regenerate tissues, protect against heart disease, aid in the absorption of iron, prevent scurvy, and decrease total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides.
Vitamin C is required for the biosynthesis of collagen. Collagen is an essential component of connective tissue, which plays a vital role in wound healing.
Vitamin C is also an important physiological antioxidant and has been shown to regenerate other antioxidants within the body.
Ongoing research is examining whether vitamin C, by limiting the damaging effects of free radicals through its antioxidant activity, might help prevent or delay the development of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, and other diseases in which oxidative stress plays a causal role.
In addition to its biosynthetic and antioxidant functions, Vitamin C plays an important role in immune function and improves the absorption of iron often found in plant-based foods. Insufficient vitamin C intake causes scurvy, which is characterized by fatigue or lassitude, widespread connective tissue weakness, and capillary fragility.
Uses for Vitamin C Supplements
Vitamin C supplements offer antioxidant benefits and are purported to help the following health conditions:
- Cardiovascular Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Parkinson's Disease
Some proponents also claim that Vitamin C supplements can boost immunity to help fight off the common cold and infections.
Signs you might be Vitamin C deficient:
Deficiency symptoms include:
- Muscle weakness
- Joint and muscle aches
- Bleeding gums
- Leg rashes
Prolonged deficiency can cause scurvy, a rare but potentially severe illness.
How much Vitamin C does an Adult Need?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the recommended Vitamin C daily allowance (RDA) for adults over age 19 is:
- Men, 90 mg per day
- Women, 75 mg per day
- Pregnant women, 85 mg per day
- Breastfeeding women, 120 mg per day
How much Vitamin C does an Child Need?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the recommended Vitamin C daily allowance (RDA) for children is:
- Infants 0-6 months old, 40 mg per day
- Infants 7-12 months old, 50 mg per day
- Toddlers 1-3 years old, 15 mg per day
- Children 4-8 years old, 25 mg per day
- Children 9-13 years old, 45 mg per day
- Male teens 14-18 years old, 75 mg per day
- Female teens 14-18 years old, 65 mg per day