5 Key Facts About Vitamin C!

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It’s back-to-school season — and tomorrow is Lemonade Day! Whether you’re a kid or a grownup, it’s a great time to check and evaluate your health with a physical and other preventive health measures. For example, vitamin C (also called ascorbic acid) is an important nutrient for proper health. Our doctors have plenty to say about vitamin C, so we’ve gathered these 5 key facts to help get your health in shape for fall!

1. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient

Essential nutrients are those that your body can’t make or synthesize, so ingesting them is the only way to get them. Besides preventing scurvy, ophthalmologist Dr. Harold Peltan notes that vitamin C helps with immune system function and in the growth and repair of tissues. In fact, plastic surgeon Dr. Barry Cohen says vitamin C is as important as vitamin A when it comes to anti-aging and preventive skincare. After all, the body needs vitamin C to form collagen in bones, cartilage, muscle, and blood vessels.

2. It helps your body absorb iron

Surprise surprise! According to Dr. Gary Sandler, vitamin C helps your body, specifically your intestines, absorb more iron. More specifically, a study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that vitamin C aided in increasing absorption of non-heme iron. Heme iron is primarily found in animal foods that contained hemoglobin, such as meat, fish, and poultry, and is most readily absorbed by your body. Non-heme iron is found in fruits and vegetables and is harder for your body to absorb.

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3. Use it to improve skin health

Psychiatrist Dr. Pamela Pappas says vitamin C has many functions when it comes to skin health — especially collagen synthesis. It may also help with photoprotection and reduce inflammatory lesions in acne (applied topically or taken as a supplement). While hematologist Dr. Michael Dugan notes that vitamin C supplements aren’t associated with noticeable changes in skin tone or texture, Dr. Andrew Lipton, a specialist in holistic medicine, says that topical vitamin C can improve skin healing as long as it’s used under direction, as it’s an acid. When buying skincare products with vitamin C, plastic surgeon Dr. Kenneth Dembny recommends those with stable l-ascorbic acid at high concentration (between 10% — 20%) and at low ph (❤.5).

Portrait of a smiling woman

4. Yes, you can ingest too much vitamin C

Dr. Rashed Hasan, a specialist in pediatric critical care, says the recommended daily dose of vitamin C is 65–90 mg/day, and the upper limit is 2 g/day. It’s also water-soluble, so excess vitamin C is eventually urinated out. However, although Dr. Hasan notes that too much dietary vitamin C is unlikely to be harmful, it’s megadoses of vitamin C supplements that you should avoid. Overdoing it with the vitamin C supplements may cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, heartburn, abdominal bloating, cramps, headache, insomnia, and kidney stones.

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5. It’s better to opt for vitamin C-rich food instead of supplements

While you can take vitamin C pills to supplement your dietary intake, the best way to get your daily dose of vitamin C is through natural foods: fruits (citrus fruits, papayas, kiwi, strawberries, goji berries, acai berries, etc.) and vegetables, especially peppers, broccoli, and kale. Dr. Danny Westmoreland, a specialist in family medicine, says “I feel much better when the diet is high in vitamin c by true food like citrus [fruits].”

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Looking for more ways to improve your diet? Talk to a doctor about your specific needs today — or whenever is convenient for you, thanks to HealthTap Concierge!

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