Vitamin C – The Myths and the Facts

By Tom 0
14 May 2015

Lots of my clients ask me about supplementation and what I would recommend. Through all of my research and separate readings, one of the most supplemented vitamins that I take personally is Vitamin C. Why you ask? Let’s start with what Vitamin C actually is.

What is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C, also known as Ascorbic Acid is one of the most important vitamins and nutrients we consume and we use it in daily function. Unlike other mammals, we cannot produce vitamin C and can only utilise a certain amount of it. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements we can only absorb around 70 to 90 percent from our foods, providing we don’t consume more than 180mg daily. However, according to Patrick Holford, we can supplement up to 2.5g a daily (2,500mg) which not only helps to increase your blood plasma levels up to three times more than someone who only consumes the recommended daily allowance (RDA) but also makes it much harder for us to acquire a virus or certain pathological bacteria. (Source: Patrick Holford)

What is the RDA of Vitamin C?

The current RDA for Vitamin C is 60mg daily. This is shown to prevent us from an illness caused scurvy; the symptoms are swollen, bleeding gums and the opening of previously healed wounds. Scurvy isn’t such an issue now due to better health, research and modern living. It was mainly sailors in the 18th century who were affected by it.

What is Vitamin C beneficial for?

Vitamin C has been shown to be effective for:

  • Strengthening the immune system
  • Making collagen
  • Keeping bones, skin and joints firm and strong
  • Helping to protect against cancers and heart disease
  • Is a very important antioxidant
  • Detoxifies pollutants
  • Helps make anti-stress hormone (cortisol) and controlling stress levels
  • Helps wound healing

Quite an exhaustive list you might agree! Vitamin C is powerful and should be considered in your daily nutrition. However, that is not all.

Vitamin C can help control stress levels

Vitamin C is not just a great antioxidant and beneficial for reducing blood pressure but can help to decrease stress levels too.

In one study German researchers subjected 120 people to a sure-fire stressor—a public speaking task combined with math problems. Half of those studied were given 1,000 mg of vitamin C. Such signs of stress as elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol and high blood pressure were significantly greater in those who did not get the vitamin supplement. Those who got vitamin C reported that they felt less stressed when they got the vitamin. (Source: Psychology Today).

So Vitamin C helps to reduce blood pressure (consuming 1g daily has proven this – see the antioxidant article for more information), reduce cortisol levels and strengthen the immune system. Perfect.

Deficiency Symptoms

Those who do not consume enough Vitamin C in their diet may suffer from several deficiency symptoms, these include:

  • Frequent colds
  • Lack of energy
  • Frequent infections
  • bleeding or tender gums
  • easy bruising
  • nosebleeds
  • slow wound healing
  • red pimples


When Vitamin C is consumed in huge amounts, we can suffer from toxic levels. It may cause bowel looseness in excess, but is not a sign of toxicity. This will rapidly stop when the supplementation is stopped.

Best sources of Vitamin C

The one you’ve all been waiting for. This list is not extensive and only provides a few sources of Vitamin C. The approximate levels are included in brackets (per 100g of that food).

  1. blood-orangeBroccoli (110mg)
  2. Peppers (100mg)
  3. Watercress (60mg)
  4. Tomatoes (60mg)
  5. Oranges (50mg)
  6. Limes (29mg)
  7. Melons (25mg)
  8. Peas (25mg)

Notice that oranges don’t appear in the top 3? One of Patrick Holfords’ studies proved that for us to be in a state of ‘optimum nutrition’ we need to be consuming around 2g of Vitamin C daily. This is for optimum health for protection against diseases, infections, raised antioxidant levels and raised blood plasma levels. Now this is where supplementation can come in handy and help us, a lot. For us to consume 2g of Vitamin C daily, we would have to eat the equivalent of 40 oranges per day. Who said supplements aren’t helpful?

Be aware that certain foods and products can be adversaries to the absorption of Vitamin C, these include:

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Pullution
  • Stress
  • Fried food

However, on the positive side, these are the foods that help to promote Vitamin C:

  • The bioflavanoids (group of vitamins) in fruit and vegetables
  • Any of the B Vitamin complex
  • Vitamin E works with it as an antioxidant

Myths and Facts

Fact: Vitamin C is present in fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits and red and green peppers. One cup of fresh orange juice provides 97 milligrams of the vitamin.

Fact: Vitamin C can help reduce stress levels.

Fact: The ingestion of large doses of Vitamin C does not increase the risk of forming kidney stones.

Myth: You excrete all of the vitamin C in your urine.

Fact: High intakes of vitamin C, meaning 1 gram or more, has consistently been shown to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, reduce length and severity of infections, risk for diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

So would I recommend someone to take a Vitamin C supplement? Absolutely! The benefits are completely worth it. For as little as 89p at the local home bargains you can pick up a tube of 15 x 1g effervescent tablets. Remember to try and include lots of fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet, sources that are rich in Vitamin C. Supplementation can help, as you can see and I doubt that any of us are going to be eating 20 oranges a day to consume 2g f Vitamin C.

Do you suffer from any of the symptoms above? Take a look at: Nutritional Therapy
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author: Tom

Tom has been in the fitness industry for over 8 years. He is qualified in functional movement, Kettlebells, Boxercise, Nutrition and many other qualifications. Tom is also the founder and director of ActivityX. For more information on Tom, see his trainer profile.


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