Being involved in fitness in one capacity or another for over ten years, I have taken my share of nutritional supplements. When I was adding muscle and strength, I took NO products, glutamine, and creatine. When I needed to lose weight, I would consume green tea, CLA, and L-carnitine.
Although my goals have changed from time to time over the past decade, there have been three supplements that have stayed in my cabinet regardless of what I wanted to do with my physique. I have always had a multivitamin, whey protein, and the vitamin that this article covers, vitamin C.
What Is Vitamin C Who Needs It?
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid or L-ascorbate, is an essential vitamin to the human body. It could very well be one of the safest and most important vitamins you could take on a daily basis. Vitamin C is most known as the first thing people go for whenever they have a cold. It is a water-soluble vitamin that is necessary for normal growth and development. Since it is water soluble, extra amounts that the body doesn't use leaves the body through urine within 24 hours.
It is an antioxidant as well. Antioxidants are nutrients that block some of the damage caused by free radicals, which are by-products that result when our bodies transform food into energy. Antioxidants also possibly help reduce the damage to the body caused by toxic chemicals and pollutants such as cigarette smoke.
Vitamin C is required for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. It is used to form collagen, a protein used to make skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. It is also essential for the healing of wounds, and for the repair and maintenance of people's cartilage, bones, and teeth. C also helps with blood pressure by strengthening the walls of the arteries. It can also prevent damage to cells caused by aging as well as help reduce stress.
Everybody needs Vitamin C, whether you are a hard training athlete, or an everyday person that is just trying to get in shape. C can help protect the immune system and help bodybuilders recover from intense training.
It helps in protein metabolism. It not only provides our body with certain necessary proteins but also blocks the synthesis of vital proteins that cause infection and inflammation. It is also believed that vitamin C usage may support efforts to prevent heart disease, stroke, and cancer later in life.
For male athletes, Vitamin C will keep testosterone levels high by supporting a lower ratio of cortisol to testosterone. This will help your body keep up that top level of performance you require on a daily basis.
In the case of women, Vitamin C not only helps to protect the breaking off of the capillaries that cause heavy blood flow for women with endometriosis during menstruation but also prevents blood clotting caused by reduction of prothrombin, thrombin, and thrombokinase concentrations in the body.
Also, Vitamin C not only helps to improve digestive absorption, but also may support our bodies' actions in fighting against all kinds of diseases including endometriosis. Women also benefit by taking C because it helps strengthen the liver function to balance the estrogen level during the menstrual cycle. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you are supposed to take in more C than women that are not.
If a person becomes deficient in Vitamin C, there could be very bad consequences. Symptoms of not having enough C includes:
- Dry and splitting hair
- Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums)
- Bleeding gums
- Rough, dry, scaly skin
- Decreased wound-healing rate
- Easy bruising
- Weakened tooth enamel
- Swollen and painful joints
- Decreased ability to fight infection
- Possible weight gain because of slowed metabolism
If you stay deficient for too long, you could develop scurvy. Scurvy leads to the formation of spots on the skin, spongy gums, and bleeding from the mucous membranes. These spots are most abundant on a person's thighs and legs, and a person with the ailment looks pale, feels depressed, and is partially immobilized. Although it is mostly known to affect older adults, anyone can get it. Scurvy can be developed in as little as 90 days if you don't have enough C in your system.
How Much Should I Take And How Can I Take It?
Now that we know you need vitamin C and why, we have to figure out how much you should take. The Food and Drug Administration set their guidelines for how much a person should take for general health. These are the FDA recommendations for each age group and gender.
Infants And Children:
- 0 - 6 months: 40 milligrams/day (mg/day)
- 7 - 12 months: 50 mg/day
- 1 - 3 years: 15 mg/day
- 4 - 8 years: 25 mg/day
- 9 - 13 years: 45 mg/day
- Girls 14 - 18 years: 65 mg/day
- Boys 14 - 18 years: 75 mg/day
- Men age 19 and older: 90 mg/day
- Women age 19 year and older: 75 mg/day
Now these guidelines aren't designed for athletes. Those folks that are active obviously need more C than the non-active person would. It is believed that active people can benefit from taking anywhere from 500 milligrams to as much as 3,000 mg a day, depending on the person's daily activity level. If you are sick, you may need as much as eight grams a day for the duration of your illness.
Sources Of Vitamin C
Primary known sources include:
- Red cabbage
- Green pepper
- Red pepper
- Brussels sprouts
Now although it is difficult to overdose on Vitamin C since it is water soluble, it can be done if you aren't careful.
How much C is too much depends on the person taking it. One thing you should not do is take it on an empty stomach. This can lead to indigestion. Also, do not take a lot at one time. Taking extra large dosages of C at one time can cause diarrhea, disturbed sleep, and nausea. Do not take more than 1,000mg of Vitamin C at one time.
Hopefully after learning all the benefits of taking Vitamin C on a regular basis, you will decide to take a Vitamin C supplement and start taking it now. Regardless of whether you are looking to pack on size, get stronger, lose weight, compete, or just stay in great shape, C is one of those vitamins that will go a long way of helping you reach all of your fitness goals.