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Vitamin C Supplements - Uses, Safety, and Possible Interactions

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Vitamin C has abundant profits for skin and overall health. Read the article below for vitamin C's proper dosage, sources, interactions, and related conditions.

Written by

Dr. Zeba Jabeen

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Achanta Krishna Swaroop

Published At November 10, 2022
Reviewed AtMay 31, 2024

What Is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is one of the essential vitamins needed for good health. It is also known as ascorbic acid and it is a water-soluble vitamin, besides vitamin B. It is required for growth and development and it helps the body in absorbing iron from the diet. Vitamin C aids in controlling infections and wound healing. It is a strong antioxidant that protects the body from harmful free radicals. It is needed for making collagen, which is a fibrous protein in connective tissue present in different tissues of the body like nerves, bone, cartilage, blood, etc. Vitamin C also acts in the synthesis of many hormones and neurotransmitters found in the brain and nerves.

As the human body cannot synthesize or store vitamin C so it has to be regularly included in the diet. Mostly its requirement is fulfilled by the food. One need not have to worry about its intake as long as a person is taking a healthy and balanced diet consisting of adequate quantities of fruits and vegetables.

What Are the Sources of Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is the content of many commonly eaten foods, especially fruits and vegetables. It can be best obtained as raw or in uncooked form. Cooking or storing them for a longer duration can decrease their vitamin C content.

Some of the best sources of Vitamin C are:

  • Citrus fruits like oranges, kiwi, lemon, and grapefruit.

  • Bell peppers - green and red.

  • Strawberries.

  • Kale.

  • Tomatoes.

  • Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.

  • Potatoes.

Orange juice is regarded as a rich source of vitamin C. However, freshly squeezed orange juice is preferred over packed orange juice as it does not contain preservatives. It also has around 96 mg of vitamin C, whereas the store-bought orange juice only contains about 65 mg of it.

How Much Vitamin C Should I Take Every Day?

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adult (19 years and above) men is 90 mg per day and for adult women is 75 mg daily. For pregnant and lactating women, the quantity has been increased to 85 mg and 120 mg per day, respectively. Though an intake of more than 35 mg is suggested (up to 120 mg) for smokers, because of vitamin C deprivation, it would be ideal to cessate or limit the smoking habit as it can result in ascorbic acid deficiency.

The RDA is much less than that provided by one supplement, so taking supplements is not required, which are of 500 to 1000 mg usually.

The upper-level tolerable intake (UL) is the maximum daily intake that is unlikely to cause deleterious outcomes for health. For vitamin C, the UL is 2000 mg per day. Consuming more than this amount may lead to gastrointestinal issues. Only in specific conditions, under medical supervision, or in controlled clinical trials, quantities higher than UL can be taken.

vitc

What Are the Manifestations of Vitamin C Deficiency?

Vitamin C deficiency is common in developing countries compared to developed ones. However, it may occur due to a restricted diet that contributes less than 10 mg of vitamin C daily for one month or a longer period. It is also caused because of smoking or long-term exposure to passive smoke, drug intake, and alcohol abuse.

The following manifestations are of vitamin C deficiency:

  • Scurvy is caused by severe vitamin C deficiency. It results in loss of collagen and hence, weakened connective tissue.

  • Skin spots occur due to bleeding and bruising of broken blood vessels.

  • Swollen or bleeding gums leading to tooth loss.

  • Periodontal disease or tooth-related problems.

  • Hair loss.

  • Delayed wound healing of oral mucous membrane and skin.

  • Fatigue, malaise.

  • Weight gain.

  • Swollen and painful joints.

  • Weak bones.

  • Rough and bumpy skin.

  • Spoon-shaped fingernails.

  • Low mood.

  • Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.

  • Iron-deficiency anemia due to decreased absorption of nonheme iron.

How Much of Vitamin C Is Too Much?

Although the UL for vitamin C is 2000 mg daily yet, it is very dubious that a person will ever consume more than 2,000 mg in a day through diet. It is only by taking supplements that contain 500 to 1,000 mg of vitamin C that overdose occurs.

An overdose of vitamin C can never be life threatening, however daily intake of large vitamin C dosage can result in:

  • Diarrhea.

  • Nausea.

  • Vomiting.

  • Heartburn.

  • Abdominal pain and cramps.

  • Headache.

  • Insomnia.

  • Fatigue.

  • Fever.

  • Renal stones.

  • Irritability.

  • Nose bleeding.

  • Menstrual abnormalities in females.

  • Weight loss.

  • Disturbed mental health.

  • Seizures.

  • Muscle pain and weakness.

  • Bone fractures.

  • Dry mucous membrane.

  • Per-rectal bleeding.

As vitamin C is water-soluble in nature, it is expelled by the body as urine and feces if its toxicity occurs. However, critical adverse effects of vitamin C toxicity are rare.

What Are the Uses of Vitamin C Supplements?

The uses of vitamin C supplements are as follows:

  • It supports the immune system.

  • It is a powerful antioxidant that damages cells contributing to aging.

  • It is essential for collagen synthesis.

  • It is necessary for wound healing.

  • It lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease.

  • It increases iron absorption.

  • It reduces the psychological effects of stress.

  • It reduces muscle soreness and improves exercise performance.

  • It improves skin texture and tone.

What Are the Side Effects of Vitamin C Supplements?

The side effects of vitamin C supplements are as follows:

  • A high dose of vitamin C may cause gastrointestinal discomfort, such as nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.

  • Kidney stones.

  • It increases the risk of iron overload in people with iron metabolism disorders.

  • It may interact with certain medications.

  • Some people may experience allergic reactions, such as rash, itching, swelling, dizziness, and difficulty breathing.

What Are the Possible Interactions With Vitamin C Supplements?

Vitamin C supplements interact with several drugs. Their combinations should be avoided. Some of them are as follows:

  • Vitamin C and Aluminum: Vitamin C can increase the absorption of aluminum in the body. Aluminum is found in antacids so vitamin C supplements should be taken two hours before or four hours after taking antacids.

  • Vitamin C and Estrogen: Vitamin C decreases the elimination of estrogen from the body so vitamin C should not be taken along with estrogen formulations. This combination might increase the effects and adverse effects of estrogen hormone.

  • Vitamin C and Fluphenazine: Increased amounts of vitamin C might decrease the effectiveness of Fluphenazine in the body.

  • Vitamin C and Cancer Drugs (alkylating agents): Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and it might decrease the efficacy of some cancer medications, including anti-cancer drugs. A patient on cancer medications should take vitamin C supplements only on the recommendation of a healthcare provider.

  • Vitamin C and Warfarin: Warfarin is an anticoagulant. High amounts of vitamin C might decrease the efficacy of Warfarin thus increasing the risk of clotting. The dose of Warfarin should be adjusted accordingly.

  • Vitamin C and Levothyroxine: Vitamin C affects the absorption and elimination of Levothyroxine in the body so vitamin C supplements can increase Levothyroxine levels in the body and also its effectiveness and side effects.

Conclusion:

Vitamin C is an inseparable part of a healthy diet but it has both pros and cons. It should be consumed regularly yet, in the recommended amounts to make the most of its benefits and prevent its adverse effects. Care should be taken to prevent its complications too.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

Can One Take Vitamin C Supplements Every Day?

It is fine to take vitamin C supplements every day, provided it is taken in recommended dosages. The body is incapable of manufacturing or storing vitamin C by itself; hence, one needs to obtain vitamin C through food supplements. The maximum limit for vitamin C intake in adults is about 2000 mg a day. Excessive dietary intake of vitamin C is less likely to be harmful, but consuming large doses of vitamin C supplements can result in diarrhea and nausea.

2.

What Are the Benefits of Taking Vitamin C Supplements?

The benefits are as follows:
- Boosts antioxidant levels.
- Minimizes the risk of heart disease and dementia (a group of symptoms that affect one’s thinking, memory, and social abilities).
- Protection against gout (a type of arthritis) attacks.
- Lowers blood pressure.
- Boosts immunity.
- Improves absorption of iron.
- Promotes wound healing.
- Aids in the manufacture of collagen, L-carnitine, and a few neurotransmitters.

3.

What Is the Recommended Dosage for Taking Vitamin C Supplements?

A majority of people obtain the needed vitamin C for the day through their food. A cup of strawberries, oranges, broccoli, or chopped red pepper are good sources of vitamin C. The advisable daily intake of vitamin C is about 90 mg a day for men, about 75 mg a day for women, 15 to 75 mg a day for children, and 85 to 120 mg a day for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

4.

Does Vitamin C Hinder Blood Clotting?

Vitamin C may prevent blood clots and minimize bruising. Vitamin C deficiency is not known to cause any issues with blood coagulation. It is vitamin K that has an impact on the clotting mechanism. Vitamin C can reduce bleeding and promote better absorption of iron. Since vitamin C is involved in iron absorption, it makes those with scurvy (vitamin C deficiency disease) more susceptible to bleeding. 

5.

Is Vitamin C Involved in Skin Lightening?

Vitamin C inhibits the production of the enzyme tyrosinase, which is essential for melanin production, thereby aiding in skin lightening. It protects the skin from dark spots and photodamage caused by exposure to ultraviolet light (UV) rays. Vitamin C enables the skin to produce more collagen and inhibits the formation of melanin, which thereby promotes skin lightening. Vitamin B12 and vitamin D are also effective in lightening dark spots on the skin.

6.

Which Fruits Are Rich in Vitamin C?

Fruits which are rich sources of vitamin C are as follows:
- Kakadu plums (a fruit native to Australia that contains a hundred times more vitamin C than oranges).
- Guavas.
- Kiwi fruit.
- Strawberries.
- Oranges.
- Papaya.
- Blackcurrants.
- Grapefruit.
- Mango.

7.

Why Should One Avoid Taking Vitamin C at Night?

Generally, excessive vitamin C should not be added at the same time. Instead, it should be divided into intakes taken three to four times a day at different times. Taking vitamin C at night should be avoided before retiring to bed because it can cause stimulation and excitement, which could result in insomnia (inability to sleep). Also, since vitamin C is acidic in nature, it can cause acidity. 

8.

Is Consumption of Vitamin C Associated With Any Side Effects?

Excessive consumption of vitamin C can cause side effects such as:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Diarrhea.
- Bloating or stomach cramps.
- Heartburn.
- Headache.
- Fatigue.
- Iron overload.
- Formation of kidney stones.
The advisable daily intake of vitamin C is about 90 mg a day for men and about 75 mg a day for women.

9.

Which Vitamin C Is Ideal for Beginners?

Beginners can begin consuming fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C. One must keep in mind the recommended daily dosage of vitamin C and consume accordingly. Fruits like guavas, grapefruit, oranges, kiwi, strawberries, blackcurrants, papaya, mango, Kakadu plums, and so on are rich in vitamin C. Bell peppers, white potatoes, cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts are also rich in vitamin C.

10.

Can Vitamin C Create Smooth Skin?

A few clinical studies have shown the efficacy of vitamin C in improving wrinkles. Collagen is a natural component present in the skin that prevents the skin from sagging. With age, collagen production decreases.  Applying vitamin C to the skin induces the production of new collagen, which helps smoothen the skin. Also, vitamin C products are loaded with antioxidants that provide a glowy and brightening effect on the skin. 

11.

Does Vitamin C Have the Ability to Remove Tan?

Vitamin C is a skin-lightening agent that effectively helps to get rid of tans, dark spots, and hyperpigmentation. It protects the skin from dark spots and photodamage caused by exposure to ultraviolet light (UV) rays. Vitamin C is a rich antioxidant that aids in fading pigmentation and creates a uniform skin tone. Vitamin C serum reduces the synthesis of melanin (skin pigment), thereby making the skin bright and glowing.

12.

What Are the Benefits of Vitamin C for Hair?

The benefits are as follows:
- Promotes hair health.
- Minimizes hair loss.
- Enhances hair growth.
- Vitamin C aids in the manufacturing of collagen, which is highly essential for hair growth. To promote hair health and minimize hair loss, consumption of less than 1000 mg of vitamin C is more than sufficient. Vitamin C deficiency can result in split ends and dry hair.

13.

Which Vitamin Reduces Melanin Synthesis?

Melanin is a component that causes pigmentation in the eyes, hair, and skin. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that occurs naturally. Vitamin C inhibits the production of the enzyme tyrosinase, which is essential for melanin production, thereby aiding in skin lightening. Vitamin C enables the skin to produce more collagen and inhibits the formation of melanin.
Dr. Achanta Krishna Swaroop
Dr. Achanta Krishna Swaroop

Dentistry

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