Last updated: August 17, 2021

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Welcome back. Most adults recommend taking plenty of vitamin C before the winter season to avoid respiratory illness, but is that all it is good for? In this article we explain. Vitamin C is a nutrient that while it helps to keep the immune system healthy, it also helps to absorb iron better, to produce more collagen that allows the healing of wounds and its consumption could shorten the time of a cold, but not avoid it completely.

It also reduces stress levels because it helps to relax the nervous system, so vitamin C is a great health alternative. If you are interested in starting to take it as a supplement, this article provides valuable information on the different forms available on the market.




Summary

  • Vitamin C is a nutrient that functions as an antioxidant in the body. It helps you to produce collagen, to better receive iron and to strengthen the immune system, which is responsible for preventing the development of various diseases.
  • There are several types of vitamin C because it is a supplement with many advantages and benefits for the body. You can find it in tablets, capsules, serum, intramuscular injections or powder.
  • Before buying any form of vitamin C, it is important to consider whether you want to take the vitamin alone or in combination with another nutrient that will give you different effects. Pay attention to the dosage according to your age and which other medicines you should not take it with.

The Best Vitamin C: Our Picks

Buying guide: What you need to know about vitamin C

There are many different forms of vitamin C supplements on the market, so choosing one in particular can be a complicated task. To help you a little, we tell you the advantages and disadvantages of consuming it, costs and places where you can find it, as well as factors you should take into account before buying it.

One of the many advantages of taking vitamin C is that it improves the vision of older people (Photo: Antonio Diaz / 123rf.com)

What is vitamin C and what are its benefits?

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a nutrient that acts as an antioxidant, helps the body produce collagen, better absorb iron and strengthens the immune system to prevent the development of diseases. It is usually consumed in foods such as strawberries, papaya, grapefruit, guava, kiwi, mango, peppers, chilli, broccoli, dried tomatoes, cauliflower, chard or spinach, but also in food supplements in various forms.

Vitamin C has also been shown to have a de-stressing effect on the body by reducing levels of cortisol, the hormone we produce in stressful situations. Excessive stress can lower our defences and make our bodies prone to all kinds of illnesses.

Advantages
  • Shortens the duration of colds
  • Has a de-stressing effect
  • Helps healing
  • Is a great antioxidant
  • Prevents scurvy
Disadvantages
  • Can cause diarrhoea
  • Can cause nausea
  • Excess can cause kidney stones
  • Is not stored in the body
  • Oxidises in light and air

Vitamin C in serum, capsules, tablets, injectable ampoules or powder - what should you look out for?

One of the advantages of vitamin C is that it can be combined with other nutrients, available as a pure form or as a dietary supplement, so it can be found in various forms to suit all tastes and lifestyles. The main purpose of most forms of vitamin C is to provide healthy levels of antioxidants to the body, however, each of them has something to highlight and here we explain what it is.

  • Vitamin C serum. It is mainly applied to the face, as it acts as an antioxidant to repair and regenerate cells, making the skin tone look much more even and healthy. It helps produce collagen to prevent the development of wrinkles and flaccidity, and protects from the sun and heat.
  • Vitamin C capsules. The capsules are recommended for people who do not have gastric problems that limit or block the effect of the vitamin in the body. They are quick-release, better absorbed, easy to swallow and gentle on the stomach.
  • Vitamin C tablets. Tablets can be vegan, are optimised in shape, size and coating to be easy to swallow and generally do not cause stomach irritation.
  • Vitamin C in injectable ampoules. The advantage of injectable ampoules is that they are 100% absorbed by the body because they are given intravenously. It is an ideal presentation for those who are not afraid of injections and who are bad at taking pills at specific times. Vitamin C powder. The powder can come in a bottle or in sachets, dissolved in plain water and taken like any other energy drink. It usually has a pleasant taste so it is a great option for those who don't want to feel like they are taking food supplements.
Serum Capsules Tablets Injectable ampoules Powder
Main benefit Decrease wrinkles Improve heart health Regulate cholesterol Increased iron absorption Strengthen the immune system
Application Topical Oral Oral Intravenous Oral
Who can use it All skin types People without gastric problems People without stomach irritation People with absorption problems People without kidney problems
Use Cosmetic Medical Medical Pharmaceutical Food

What does vitamin C do for your health?

Vitamin C not only has benefits for the respiratory system, but it is also a great nutrient that helps different physiological processes in the body and should be considered for other health conditions. Below we explain the particular cases in which vitamin C can have excellent results, either because there is a deficiency of the vitamin or because the person has a different disease that can be treated with it.

  • Scurvy. This is a rare disease that can develop as a result of not consuming enough vitamin C. Its symptoms are similar to those of anaemia, as there is tiredness, swollen gums, purple spots on the skin, joint pain, pallor, among others.
  • Hypertension. After several tests were carried out with hypertensive people, it was concluded that vitamin C acts as a diuretic, causing the person's kidneys to eliminate more sodium and water from the body, relaxing the blood vessels and therefore reducing blood pressure.
  • Fertility. Taking vitamin C supplements can improve sperm quality, i.e. improve the morphology of spermatozoa so that they are more mobile. It was also found that the number of spermatozoa increased after consumption.

The most common form of vitamin C supplements are capsules and tablets taken orally. (Photo: peogeo / 123rf.com)

Vitamin C serum costs considerably more, as it is a cosmetic product (Photo: Nikolay Litov / 123rf.com)

Purchasing criteria

The benefits of vitamin C in the human body seem to be straight out of a fairy tale. We are so excited to learn about all the benefits it can bring to the body that our first impulse is to immediately buy some form of it. Despite the above, we would like to take a second to tell you about some important factors you should take into account before buying any type of vitamin C, which will help you to have more information and therefore make a better decision.

Presentation

As mentioned in previous paragraphs, you can find vitamin C in tablets, capsules, facial serum, intramuscular injections or effervescent powder. However, there are other presentations that can be adapted to you and are also a great option. For example, there is an effervescent tablet version of vitamin C that is orange flavoured, sugar-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, vegetarian and ideal for children. When added to water, it seems like an ordinary orange soda, which children will not be afraid to drink. This presentation is recommended for children over 4 years of age, as the grammage of each tablet is ideal for dissolving in a 200 ml glass of water. It is important not to exceed one glass a day.

Dosage

When taking a dietary supplement, it is important to check the appropriate doses for each age group, which are explained below. Remember that if you respect them, you can get the results you want.

  • Babies. From birth to 6 months, babies need to take 40 mg a day. From 7 months to one year, the dose increases to 50 mg. Vitamin C in droplet form can be a great option for them.
  • Children. Between the ages of 1 and 3 years, children are recommended to consume 15 mg of vitamin C. When they turn 4 and up to the age of 8, it is best to give them 25 mg daily and from the age of 9 to 13, they will be fine with 45 mg a day.
  • Adolescents. At this stage of life, vitamin C dosage changes depending on gender. Girls between the ages of 14 and 18 need 65 mg a day to develop properly, while boys will be fine with 75 mg a day.
  • Adults. As in adolescence, there are different needs for men and women in adulthood. From age 19 onwards, men need 90 mg a day, while women in the same age range can take 75 mg a day.
  • People who smoke. Anyone who smokes needs to add an extra 35 mg of vitamin C to their diet, because smoking releases free radicals that the body fights off with vitamin C. The doses in the body are therefore lowered.
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women. The dose of vitamin C that pregnant or breastfeeding women should consume changes depending on their age. Adolescents need between 80 and 115 mg per day, while adults can consume 85 to 120 mg.

Combination

It has been mentioned several times in this article that vitamin C can be taken alone or in combination, as it is a very gentle nutrient that gets along well with other nutrients. We therefore feel that the combination with which it is found should be a factor to consider before purchasing a presentation.

  • Vitamin E and zinc. For example, when a supplement is combined with vitamin E and zinc, it becomes a powerful antioxidant that improves the appearance and health of our skin, preventing premature ageing.
  • Iron. Another example is the combination of vitamin C and iron, which when combined, either in food or multivitamin supplements, their nutrients are more easily absorbed by the body.
  • Zinc. Finally, when we mix vitamin C with zinc, we are helping to reinforce the defences in a double way, as vitamin C alone is in charge of detecting a threat in the organism, but zinc recognises the specific threat.

A further advantage of taking vitamin C on a regular basis is that it helps cholesterol function properly (Photo: monticello / 123rf.com)

Precautions

Just as there are good combinations that give a great boost to the benefits of vitamin C, there are other factors that can alter its effect or diminish it completely, and if we do not want this to happen, it is important to be aware of them.

  • Medications. There are medications such as the contraceptive pill or hormonal treatments which, combined with vitamin C intake, could raise oestrogen levels. Acetylsalicylic acid, on the other hand, is also a contraindicated medication because it causes vitamin C to be eliminated more quickly through the urine and its levels to be reduced in the blood.
  • Intestinal problems. Other important causes for vitamin C not having a positive effect on the body are intestinal or stomach diseases that do not allow its absorption, conditions such as cancer or diabetes, as well as some infections.
  • Others. Serious injuries, constant stress, high levels of alcohol in the body, as well as tobacco smoke, can also cause vitamin C not to help the body, mainly because it is a nutrient that does not remain in the body for long and is excreted in the urine.

(Featured Image Source: Natchavakorn Songpracone/ 123rf.com)

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