So much has been said about the multiple health benefits of vitamin C which is touted as the body’s “prime” immune system boosting nutrient. Vitamin C is popularly known for its host of benefits in protecting the body against stress and certain diseases such as anemia, immune system deficiencies, asthma, viral illnesses and cardiovascular illnesses.
Vitamin C, a widely used water-soluble vitamin is known to play a vital role as a co-factor in a variety of body functions. It is one of the most essential nutrients needed for building and strengthening body tissues owing to its action in the formation of a firm collagen, the cement-like substance that binds the body cells together to form strong tissues. Vitamin C is therefore important in the formation of healthy skin, blood vessel walls, cartilage, strong bones and teeth, as well as in promoting faster healing of wounds.
Vitamin C is also reported to promote cardiovascular health and helps lower blood cholesterol.
As a potent antioxidant, Vitamin C strengthens the immune system and increases body resistance to stress and infections. Specifically, Vitamin C protects the body’s soldiers, the white blood cells, from the damaging effects of free radicals with its antioxidative properties and at the same time stimulates the white blood cells in clearing away infectious microbes.
Though it does not offer a cure for diseases such as the common cold, several studies suggest that vitamin C helps in alleviating the disturbing symptoms of cold and in shortening its duration. This can reduce the risk for dreaded lung infections such as pneumonia.
In a scientific review published on January 2020 in the journal Nutrients by a team of researchers led by Adrian Gombart of the Linus Pauling Institute, the role of Vitamin C in preventing and managing infections was explored. In terms of reducing the risk for infections, the authors found that among people who regularly engage in intense physical exercise, vitamin C supplementation lowered the occurrence of common cold by more than half. Furthermore, the risk of developing pneumonia in adults and children was also lowered by vitamin C supplements, particularly when dietary vitamin C was low.
There were also evidences gathered to support the use of vitamin C in managing infections. Vitamin C intake among adults and children with the common cold led to significant reductions in symptom duration and severity, shortened the time of confinement indoors, and resulted in the relief of cold symptoms including pain, fever, and chills. In older patients with pneumonia, vitamin C was also found to significantly lower disease severity and the risk of death, especially if blood levels of the vitamin were initially low.
The Gentle Protective Cover
Many are quite reluctant in taking ascorbic acid or the so- called ordinary or “acidic” Vitamin C because of its potential effect in irritating the lining of the stomach of susceptible individuals. Thus the alkaline form, sodium ascorbate, provides a safer and better choice of ascorbic acid.
Labeled as the “non-acidic” Vitamin C, sodium ascorbate is buffered or neutralized with the mineral sodium as the salt of vitamin C and is often called mineral ascorbate. Sodium ascorbate delivers the same benefits of vitamin C to the human body without causing the possible gastric irritating effects of the “acidic” Vitamin C.
Sodium ascorbate is in alkaline or buffered form, therefore it will not cause adverse reactions encountered when taking ascorbic acid. Since sodium ascorbate does not cause hyperacidity, this alkaline or buffered form of Vitamin C is commonly recommended to individuals who experience gastrointestinal complaints such as heartburn, flatulence, nausea and diarrhea.
How Safe is Vitamin C?
Despite its sodium content, Sodium ascorbate in recommended doses is safe for hypertensive individuals. Adults, especially those with cardiovascular disease, on a low-salt diet are advised to limit their total daily sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg/day.
Sodium ascorbate contains only 10% – 11% sodium. Approximately, 1000 mg of sodium ascorbate, equivalent to two 500mg capsules, provides 889 mg of vitamin C and only 111 mg of sodium. 1-2 capsule(s) of 500 mg of sodium ascorbate taken daily will only give approximately 111 mg sodium.
Vitamin C is usually well tolerated and generally no adverse reactions are expected when it is taken at recommended doses.Vitamin C may cause diarrhea if taken in large amounts.
Vitamin C should be given with caution in patients with hyperoxaluria because large amounts may lead to the formation of calcium oxalate stones in the kidney. Urinary stone formers appear to be at higher risk for calculi if individuals take large doses of vitamin C daily.
Large doses of vitamin C may also result in a false positive glucose test in the urine and may interfere with the diagnosis of diabetes mellitus.
Vitamin C. Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center.
Gombart AF, Pierre A, Maggini S. A Review of Micronutrients and the Immune System-Working in Harmony to Reduce the Risk of Infection.