Why You Should Be Paying Attention To Your Vitamin C Levels
It’s the great protector.
At this point, it’s likely you’re well aware of the plethora of benefits that come from vitamin C. For years, the nutrient has been rapidly rising in the beauty and wellness spaces thanks to its ability to aid in everything from free radical protection and immune function to iron absorption. In fact, on TikTok alone, #vitaminc has garnered some 2.8B views to date, with users sharing products, skin care, foods, and supplements that star the buzzy antioxidant.
“It also helps to boost collagen production and decrease inflammation in the body, making it an essential nutrient for bone and blood vessel health,” anti-aging and regenerative medicine doctor, Dr. Neil Paulvin, DO explains. And while there’s a plethora of information on what it can do for the body, how does one know if they’re deficient in it?
The thing with this tricky nutrient is that, unlike iron and B12-deficiencies, vitamin C disparities can sneak up on you as symptoms — like not getting enough sleep, catching a cold, fever, etc. — can easily be mistaken for a wide variety of other issues. That said, Sanjay Batra, PHD says it’s also one of the vitamins you need to keep in check as having healthy amounts of vitamin C cannot be underestimated. The key thing to note here is that this nutrient cannot be made by the human body, so it must be absorbed through food or supplement. For reference, adult women should be consuming at least 75 mg of vitamin C daily. “While the body can store vitamin C, to get through times of scarcity, the stores are eventually depleted,” says Barta.
Ahead, we break down the importance of vitamin C that you probably haven’t seen on your social media feeds. Take notes.
Yes, Vitamin C Deficiency Can Be Serious
Initially, signs of low vitamin c will show as fatigue, lack of motivation, flu-like symptoms, and dry hair and skin. “Typically, noticeable effects don’t begin to develop until you’ve had low levels for several months (about two to three),” Paulvin shares. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, he expresses that you should see a health care provider right away as they can quickly intensify. “The depressive and fatigue related symptoms are known to be the initial signs of scurvy,” Batra shares. Fun fact: As far back as 200 years ago, British Royal Navy officers were rationed lime or lemon juice to prevent scurvy (thus, the Brits were dubbed “limeys” by American soldiers). In worse case scenarios, the disease actually develops, which is subtle in the initial stages, but progresses to a serious and potentially life-threatening situation. When developing scurvy, anemia, bleeding gums, bruising and wounds healing poorly may occur.
How To Make It Your Friend
“There are several food or beverage items that interfere with vitamin C absorption,” Batra explains, adding that coffee, which also interferes with iron absorption, is one prime example. “Sugar and high glycemic index diets will also decrease absorption of vitamin C, or prevent it from being utilized by the body,” he shares.
If you’re making vitamin C a priority in your diet, try consuming it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, at least 30 minutes before your morning tea or coffee. Many brands like Athletic Greens and Emergen-C offer the nutrient in a powder form that can easily be added to a glass of water or smoothie. You can also go the pill route with options like HUM Nutrition’s Air Patrol and Olly’s Ultra Strength Immunity Softgels.
One thing to note is that because many forms of vitamin C supplements contain pure ascorbic acid, they can lead to issues like heartburn, bloating, and nausea. To improve your intake, “either supplementation of a ‘buffered’ form of vitamin C or increasing certain foods that are rich in it is necessary,” says Batra. FYI, a ‘buffered’ vitamin C is when the nutrient incorporates mineral salt. This mixture changes the pH of the formula, making it easier on sensitive stomachs. “It is regarded as a gentler source, as it is less acidic and more likely to be preserved in the alimentary canal before entering the body,” Batra adds.
If you’re looking to up your vitamin C intake, shop the products below to start your journey ASAP.