Are you getting enough out of your vitamin C intake? Are you experiencing the myriad of benefits that this powerhouse nutrient can give you? If not, you might be wondering why? In this article, we find out how you can improve the efficacy of vitamin C supplements.
What is vitamin C and how does it function in the body?
Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient which means that it cannot be stored in the body. If a certain threshold level is reached, the body excretes the rest it does not need via the kidneys and urine. Our bodies do not produce their own vitamin C, so we need to effectively obtain our daily dose from fresh fruits and vegetables or vitamin C supplements. A healthy diet is the best way to get the vitamin C your body needs, however, however, reinforcement can come in the form of vitamin C supplements when your immunity needs a boost.
This article looks at simple strategies that may help improve the efficacy of vitamin C supplements.
10 factors that may influence the efficacy of Vitamin C supplements?
Check that you take the correct dosage
Taking the correct dosage may play a role in the efficacy of a vitamin C supplement. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, healthy individuals require a daily recommended intake of 400 mg/day of vitamin C.
The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academies recommends 75 mg/day for women and 90 mg/day for men of vitamin C. As an upper limit intake for vitamin C from a combination of both food and supplements they recommend 2000 mg/day for adults.
People who have compromised immune systems and smokers, may only really benefit from higher dosages to see improvement in general health. On average smokers need about 35 mg of vitamin C a day more than non-smokers.
Dosages in the whole food section are mostly on the lower side compared to the synthetic ascorbic forms. Product labels may also contain wrong information that doesn’t necessarily specify effective amounts of the nutrient. It is therefore up to the buyer to do as much fact-checking as possible. Speak to a health practitioner or pharmacist about dosages if you have any doubts.
The issue of water solubility of vitamin C
Because vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient is doesn’t build up in the body like other fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Whatever you don’t need gets excreted, but it also means that we need to replenish our vitamin C levels as the body does not produce its own. Although it is not necessary to take a water-soluble nutrient with food, taking vitamin C just after your food can also help assist with absorption and efficacy.
When is best to take your vitamin C supplement?
It is advisable to take your vitamin C supplement daily at the same time so you get into a habit of not forgetting. Taking it before bedtime is not recommended as it can keep you awake. Some people with gastrointestinal issues may benefit from taking their vitamin C with food to help with general absorption and effectiveness and also to counter diarrhea or nausea.
The form of vitamin C can affect its efficacy
When choosing a vitamin C supplement, go with the one you are comfortable with or prefer. Many people struggle to take big tablets. These are usually the 1000 mg ascorbic acid tablets that leave an uncomfortable feeling in the stomach for some individuals. Vitamin C in powder and liquid form may be preferred by some as the body doesn’t have to go through the extra step of breaking it down, as with a tablet. Powder and liposomal forms of vitamin C may be more effective and faster in acting in the body.
Compatibility with other meds
Make sure that the medication you take is compatible with vitamin C so that its efficacy is not compromised. Combining some meds with certain minerals or vitamins can amplify one or the other or counter it completely. People on heart medication may want to check that they are taking the correct mineral ascorbate that works with their meds. If both contain potassium, it can elevate the amounts of potassium in the body to dangerous levels. Consult a health practitioner when in doubt.
Incorrect storage can influence the effectiveness of vitamin C
Incorrect storage can influence the effectiveness of vitamin C. Always make sure the container is kept away from direct sunlight and out of a humid, moist environment like a bathroom. Make sure that the bottle or container is closed tight after use so as to avoid oxidation.
Some vitamins just don’t pair well with others. Calcium may affect the absorption of vitamin C for example, while iron and vitamin C are complementary. Vitamin C will help with iron absorption and also counter the possible side effects of iron intake such as constipation. Taking your vitamins and minerals apart during different times of the day can help with the effectiveness of vitamin C too.
They are filled with bad stuff
Research the ingredients listed before making a purchase. Fillers, preservatives, and many other ingredients are harmful and can negate the positive effects of the nutrient itself. Watch out for ingredients such as magnesium silicate that is suspected of causing cancer. It is harmful when breathed in or swallowed. Another nasty is titanium dioxide that is tied to lung inflammation and kidney damage in mice. All these nasties may play a role in a vitamin C supplement’s effectiveness.
Remember to check the expiry date on the label. This may seem like a no-brainer but some people forget. Also check the expiry before you purchase the product, as it could have expired on the shelf, compromising the efficacy of vitamin C.
Does your body need probiotics or digestive enzymes?
Some people’s bodies don’t produce enough hydrochloric acid to digest their food optimally, resulting in poor nutrient uptake. A lack of good bacteria in the gut to counter the bad bacteria may also influence the effectiveness of vitamin C. Adding both probiotics and digestive enzymes to your protocols may optimize the uptake of important nutrients such as vitamin C and have a positive influence on its efficacy.
Last thoughts on the efficacy of vitamin C supplements
Do you know if you are deficient in vitamin C? Screening yourself will tell you if you have a deficiency. A simple blood test can do the job or simply swab yourself in the comfort of your own home using the DNA kit and the Nutrition Genome sequencing lab will do the rest. You will get a full 50-page analysis back based on your personal and biochemical makeup.
Knowing if you are deficient in a nutrient is the first step before deciding to supplement in general. Vitamin C is an important essential nutrient that we cannot afford to be deficient in. Taking a vitamin C supplement that is not really being absorbed in the body is not really helpful. Always consult a medical practitioner when in doubt. Increasing vitamin C supplements’ effectiveness will depend on a variety of factors like these mentioned in this article as well as your own personal health requirements.
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Cautionary note: Not any of these statements have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The content of the articles and the products recommended are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or health issue. The intention is also not to imply that vitamins or any dietary supplements are substitutes for a balanced diet or are in any way more beneficial or superior to dietary nutrients. It is also not intended to imply that general or normal health may be affected by not taking dietary supplements or receiving intravenous vitamin C infusions.
Image credit: Artem Beliaikin