Is Your Vitamin C Supplement Doing More Harm Than Good?

Kaylee Noland
Is Your Vitamin C Supplement Doing More Harm Than Good?

Many Americans will mindlessly pop a vitamin C supplement when they feel a sore throat coming on. But is that vitamin C supplement really helping fight off a virus? Maybe not. In fact, it could even be overwhelming your body and providing you with expensive urine.

So, What Does Vitamin C Do?

When most people think of Vitamin C they immediately think of how vitamin C can help support the immune system. But, vitamin C does so much more than that! Vitamin C is an antioxidant,  supports skin health, and even helps repair and maintain cartilage, bones, and teeth. Vitamin C even plays a role in healing wounds, and is a powerful antioxidant that can neutralize harmful free radicals. 

Although most people can get adequate levels of vitamin C by eating fruits and vegetables, some people feel it necessary to take a vitamin C supplement to fill in any gaps and get extra support. But is this really helping your overall levels and absorption of C? Probably not. In fact, mega-dosing with vitamin C can have negative effects on the body. 

Vitamin C Supplement Absorbability?

First, vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. This means your body does not store it and excess is secreted in your urine. Basically, you can only absorb a certain amount of vitamin C at one time, whether it be from a supplement or whole foods. 

The synthetic form, ascorbate (which is most likely the form found in your C supplement), is an isolated form of C which the body may not be able to properly utilize as well. Real vitamin C does contain ascorbic acid but in addition contains rutin, bioflavonoids, Factor K, Factor J, Factor P, Tyrosinase, Ascorbinogen, and other components. Thus, your vitamin C supplement isn’t fully “vitamin C”. Tru vitamins are so much more than a synthetic fraction. 

Vitamin C in the US

The “vitamin C” found in grocery stores are merely just a chemical copy of naturally occurring ascorbic acid, which is still only a fraction of actual Vitamin C. Synthetic ascorbic acid never grew in the ground, absorbed sunlight, and it was created chemically in a factory. In fact, this chemical copy of C may be doing harm! Synthetic vitamins can have toxic effects when ingesting mega-doses. When most Americans start to feel a sore throat or cough, many will start popping C supplements like candy! These mega doses can actually communicate to your body that something is going haywire due to an overload. This shock can even increase the white blood cell count in your body because the body sees this vitamin overload as a threat! 

Some studies have even shown that absorption of vitamin C decreases to less than 50% when taking amounts greater than 1000 mg. When taking amounts of C greater than 3000mg daily, adverse effects such as diarrhea, increased formation of kidney stones and increased uric acid are possible. All in all, vitamins are meant to be whole-food based and taken in small quantities throughout the day. Whole food vitamins are much more easily recognized by the body and additionally do not trigger a shock when dosages are spread out. 

Vitamin C in its Best Form!

So how much vitamin C do you really need? Are there any good Vitamin C supplements on the market? And which food sources are the most rich in C? 

The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C in adults 19 years and older is 90 mg a day for men and 75 mg for women. Eating an ample amount of fruits and vegetables should most definitely get you to that magic number. Curious to have your current vitamin C levels tested? Take a vessel test to see how your vitamin C levels measure up!

But what if you do want to give your body a slight boost when vitamin C rich fruit and vegetables may not be readily available? There are some excellent whole-food based supplements on the market that can supply you with a true vitamin C. If you are looking to boost your Vitamin C through foods, try incorporating some bell pepper into your diet. Just one cup of raw bell pepper contains 200% of the recommended daily values for vitamin C. Other great vitamin C rich options include broccoli, strawberries, kiwi and mango.