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Vitamin C Ascorbic Acid Part 2

However, vitamin c may yield its greatest benefits in fighting cancer, heart disease, and in boosting the immune system. Supplemental doses of vitamin c have been found to reduce the risk of certain cancers (including esophageal, pancreatic, and cervical cancer), provide protection against heart disease (studies have shown that vitamin c supplementation can not only lower systolic blood pressure, but also drive up good HDL cholesterol while lowering bad LDL cholesterol), and boost the immune system (supplemental doses of vitamin c can increase the body's production of lymphocyes and glutathione).

But vitamin c's benefits are not confined to reducing the incidence and severity of disease. Simply walk by a cosmetics counter and you'll notice that some products tout the inclusion of vitamin c. Reason: topical application of vitamin c has been found to stimulate the production of collagen in fibroplasts. Collagen, of course, is the "glue" that holds our skin together, keeping it resilient and youthful.

Though the optimal effects of vitamin c cannot be achieved by diet alone, good sources of Vitamin C include citrus fruits and juices, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, green peppers, potatoes, spinach, strawberries, sweet and hot peppers, and tomatoes.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of ascorbic acid for adults is 60 milligrams. However, no expert in the field of gerontology would agree that this meager amount could yield significant benefits, aside from the avoidance of a deficiency state (and, of course, this is the fundamental problem with the RDA's--they were established not with the idea of pursuing optimal health, but, rather, with the goal of avoiding disease states that result from nutrional deficiencies). Indeed, studies have shown that at least 500 milligrams of vitamin C are needed each day to get the maximum protective benefits from this nutrient.

Who should take supplemental vitamin c? According to Dr. Earl Mindell, "city dwellers" should since carbon monoxide destroys vitamin c. But, actually, most individuals should. However, people over the age of 55 and smokers certainly need a vitamin C supplement for extra antioxidant protection, because the rate of oxidation increases as a result of smoking and the natural aging process.

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that extra vitamin C is eliminated from the system rather than being stored in the body. Large doses of it are tolerated fairly well in healthy individuals, and some people have taken from 5,000 to 10,000 milligrams each day for several years without having any serious side effects.

However, because the body quickly eliminates any vitamin C it doesn’t use, consuming mega doses at a single time is probably a waste of time. To take higher amounts of supplemental ascorbic acid and actually absorb this vital nutrient so that its benefits can be gained, vitamin c supplements should be taken at intervals. For example, an individual wishing to supplement with 750 milligrams of ascorbic acid might follow a schedule of taking 250 milligram dosages with meals (assuming three standard meals are taken daily, which may not be the case with many individuals today).

It is possible to consume too much of this vitamin. More than 1,000 milligrams has been known to cause frequent urination and mild diarrhea. Facial flushing, headaches, stomach cramps, nausea, or vomiting are other symptoms of too much vitamin C in the diet. Also, excessive intake of this antioxidant has been known to cause uric acid stone formation (a safeguard against this is to consume supplemental doses of vitamin b6 and the mineral magnesium).

Return to Vitamin C ascorbic acid, part 1

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