Vitamin C is a fairly common and popular nutrient that many have talked about when it comes to a healthy and balanced diet. As vitamin C is present in various foods, many of us consume this vitamin every day and feel like we have understood all about vitamin C. However, there are still many questions or misconceptions surrounding this vitamin, and we will be discussing the importance, the common facts and myths about vitamin C in the post below.
Importance of Vitamin C in our lives
Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin and considered the safest nutrient needed for normal growth and development. Vitamin C is required for wound healing, forming important protein for healthy growth, repair and maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.
Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that shields our body from free radical damages and ensures the proper functioning of our immune system. For many years, vitamin C has been considered a popular household remedy for the common cold as studies have shown that people with healthy vitamin C levels might have slightly shorter colds duration or experience milder symptoms.
Here are a few facts and myths surrounding vitamin C:
Vitamin C is only important for immunity
It’s a Myth. Vitamin C is not only needed to improve our immune system. It is involved in many growth and repair processes in our body. Our body needs vitamin C to help make bones, cartilage, skin and muscles, ligaments, tendons and blood vessels. Vitamin C is also important for new skin and scar tissue when we have a wound and it also slows down the appearance of wrinkles.
Vitamin C can help in iron absorption
It’s a Fact. Iron is found in animal foods that contain hemoglobin, such as meat, fish, and poultry. Vitamin C helps in converting iron that is poorly absorbed into a form that is easier to absorb. Drinking citrus juice or eating other foods rich in vitamin C when taking iron products can increase the amount of iron absorbed into the bloodstream.
Vitamin C is safe for pregnant women
It’s a Fact. During pregnancy, vitamin C is needed for both mothers and babies. Beside using it for tissue repair and wound healing, vitamin C is needed for the development of bones and teeth for the baby. Having low intake of vitamin C could be associated with complications in pregnancy such as high blood pressure, anaemia or having a small baby.
Our body produces vitamin C
It’s a Myth. Our body does not make or store vitamin C therefore it is important that we obtain sufficient vitamin C through our daily meals or supplementations. Vitamin C deficiency is mainly seen in malnourished adults. Many health conditions will arise due to vitamin C deficiencies and in extreme cases, it can lead to scurvy, anemia, bruising, bleeding, and loose teeth.
You can’t consume too much vitamin C
It’s a Myth. Since vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that will not be stored in the body, the risk of overdosing with vitamin C is very low as the excess amounts are excreted out from our body. However taking extreme doses of vitamin C may still cause vitamin C overdose symptoms with side effects such as:
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea
- Stomach cramps or bloating
Vitamin C can cure the common cold
It’s a Myth. No doubt Vitamin C plays a key role in immune function and strengthening our immunity, studies have shown that it does not cure the common cold directly. However, sufficient intake of vitamin C does show a decrease in severity of cold symptoms and duration of cold.
Vitamin C may help reduce the risk of gout
It’s a Fact. Although more research is still needed, there are studies that suggest vitamin C may help to protect against gout flare by reducing the levels of uric acid in our blood, as compared to those who were not supplemented with vitamin C. However, insufficient evidence shows that vitamin C can help with the severity or frequency of gout flares.
The main source of vitamin C is citrus fruits
It’s a Myth. Citrus fruits are an excellent source of vitamin C, but they are not the only source. Vitamin C can also be obtained from certain vegetables such as bell pepper and green peas. Both contain high amounts of vitamin C as well.
It is important to understand what facts are true to vitamin C while which ones are just myths so that proper intake of Vitamin C to manage certain health conditions can be taken, when needed. Vitamin C may not decrease your risk of catching a cold, but it is still important for us to take in sufficient amounts of this nutrient for our everyday life.
Having a healthy balanced diet will ensure sufficient intake of vitamin C. Patients with special dietary requirements or taking certain medications should always speak to their health care professionals on how much vitamin C they should take each day as personalised dietary and supplementation plans might be required to help them maintain a healthy vitamin C level.
- Choi, H. K., Gao, X., & Curhan, G. (2009). Vitamin C intake and the risk of gout in men. Archives of Internal Medicine, 169(5), 502. https://doi.org/10.1001/archinternmed.2008.606
- Mantachie Rural Health Care, Inc. (2018, July 12). Truths and myths about vitamin C. Mantachie Rural Health Care, Inc. Retrieved December 14, 2022, from https://www.mantachieclinic.org/truths-myths-vitamin-c/
- Vitamin C. The Nutrition Source. (2021, May 27). Retrieved December 7, 2022, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-c/