Vitamin C is usually associated with sickness. People take supplements or eat lots of Vitamin-C containing foods when they feel they are becoming ill in an attempt to stave off a cold or flu. While this is to an extent effective, it is by no means Vitamin C’s only job in keeping you healthy.
What Is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble nutrient which primarily functions as an antioxidant. Water-soluble nutrients are those that are able to be broken down and absorbed by the body in the presence of water. Antioxidants are compounds that work inside your body to fight free radicals, which themselves are by-products of certain foods.
The upper safety limit for vitamin C is about 2,000 milligrams per day. Taking more than that could cause stomach irritation and general upset. Vitamin C has also been shown to increase the quality of the skin and improve skin texture. This is largely in part due to the role that Vitamin C plays in the development of collagen.
What Is Its Biological Role?
One of Vitamin C’s primary roles is to utilize its antioxidants properties. When our body breaks down the food that we eat, sometimes by-products called free radicals are released into our body along with the helpful nutrients.
Free radicals can cause cell damage and even contribute to certain types of cancer. Antioxidants like Vitamin C  help to isolate and eradicate free radicals, and work to repair any cell damage they may have caused.
Vitamin C in particular also assists with preventing scurvy and heart disease, as well as helping your body normalize cholesterol levels and properly absorb iron. Vitamin C can also be taken in larger doses as a supplement at the onset of a cold, which may help to lessen the severity and duration of cold or flu symptoms.
Which Foods Contain Vitamin C?
There are many fruits and vegetables that have naturally high amounts of Vitamin C. in addition, some foods like breads and cereals are fortified with extra vitamins to help bolster their beneficial properties.
Foods with naturally high levels of Vitamin C include: guavas, strawberries, oranges, green leafy vegetables like kale, cauliflower, cabbage, asparagus, berries, and some melons.
How Does It Help Bodybuilders and People Who Work Out?
When your body undergoes stress, such as the muscular stress of a workout, it produces a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol does many things, and is referred to as your body’s “stress” hormone because of the body’s tendency to produce very large amounts of it when under stress.
Cortisol can be helpful, but too much of it can spur a process that actually breaks down muscle fibers. This is, of course, counterproductive to workouts because the period after your workout is when you count on your body’s healing process to build and strengthen your muscles.
Some studies show that taking Vitamin C immediately after a workout may help to lower your cortisol levels  and allow your body’s natural healing process to take center stage, which will give you the most benefit from your workout.
Taking Vitamin C
There are many ways you can take vitamin C. For the most part, the manner you choose to ingest vitamin C won’t affect the bio-availability of the ascorbic acid. A research study showed that the level of absorption is not significantly different whether you take a solution, tablets, and chewable tablets.
Time released capsules are the only method that showed a reduced absorption level with an absorption of about 50 percent less than other forms. One study has shown that vitamin C supplements that include flavonoids are absorbed up to 35 percent more effectively. For the most part, it doesn’t seem to matter how you take the supplement. However, it’s a good idea to take the supplement with food if you find that it upsets your stomach.
High doses of vitamin C over 2 grams is generally not recommended unless your doctor specifically advises you to do so. Take your supplement with a full glass of water as well to ensure that you’re adequately hydrated.
Always speak with your doctor before taking any supplements.
How Much Vitamin C Do You Need?
The National Institute of Health has set recommended daily allowances for Vitamin C according to age and gender. Adult (over 19) men are recommended 90mg per day, while adult women are recommended 75mg per day.
The recommendation for women can raise if they are pregnant or breastfeeding. Pregnant women should have 85mg per day, while women who are breastfeeding should strive for 120mg per day.
Are There Risks Associated With Consuming Too Much Of It?
Your body can normally hold only about 250mg of Vitamin C at one time. Any amount that is ingested over that will simply be passed through the body and expelled in urine. The exception to this is if you are sick or your body is working overtime to heal tissue, such as in the case of a smoker.
If you consume more than 2,000mg at a time of Vitamin C your kidneys may form stones, which can be very painful to pass. Additional symptoms of excessive Vitamin C consumption include nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and other digestive discomforts.
Are There Risks Associated With Consuming Too Little Of It?
Vitamin C deficiency is very rare in developed countries, because of how easy it is to consume adequate amounts from fruits, veggies, and fortified foods. Symptoms of Vitamin C deficiency include fatigue, muscle aches and weakness, and bleeding gums. If an individual remains Vitamin C deficient for too long they develop scurvy, which is extraordinarily rare but can be quite harmful.
Things to Look for in a Good Vitamin C Supplement
The supplement form of vitamin C has been around for a long time. However, there are some important features you need to look for when getting a vitamin C supplement. There are different forms of vitamin C available, and you need to be savvy when going or shopping online to the store to pick up this life-sustaining supplement.
A good supplement will contain the right form that provides optimal bio-availability for your system. There are two types of vitamin C available on the market. Natural ascorbic acid is what you might find in foods like oranges, broccoli and other foods high in vitamin C.
Synthetic L-ascorbic acid is chemically created in a lab, but studies have shown there is no difference in the bio-availability of the two forms. Studies have been conducted that show similar levels of ascorbic acid in plasma levels in both the natural and synthetic forms.
1. Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Vitamin C
Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Vitamin C is a unique blend of natural vitamin C with food-based elements. The goal is to provide you with the vitamin C in a form that the body would process similar to how it processed food. RAW means that the product is produced without high levels of heat, which can damage the compounds in the supplement. This makes it a more gently processed vitamin that may result in better absorption. The supplement comes in a blend with 23 fruits and vegetables using a special process to condense the nutrients into a capsule form. The product is manufactured by Garden of Life. This is a company that has a history of provider high-quality vitamins and superior ingredients.
- 500mg Vitamin C
- Food-based approach may result in better absorption
- Supplement provides vitamin C along with microntrients from several other fruits and vegetables
2. Doctor’s Best Vitamin C
This product comes in a few different forms. An extended release tablet is available in the PureWay-C form. You can also get it in doses of 500mg and 1000mg with the vitamin C product that uses Quali-C. The product is designed to have a high level of bio-availability, and it can help you maintain the proper levels of vitamin C in the blood stream. Doctor’s Best Vitamin C was founded in 1990 by a group of doctors who wanted to provide better supplements to the world. It’s manufactured by Doctor’s Best, a company that makes a variety of products with exacting standards. The product is made in Scotland.
- Available in 500mg and 1000mg Vitamin C doses
3. Nature’s Way Vitamin C-1000 A
Nature’s Way Vitamin C-1000 is a product that contains 1000mg of vitamin C. Takig two of these capsules a day would put you at the maximum recommended dosage for the vitamin. Nature’s Way Vitamin C is manufactured by Nature’s Way. The company makes a wide variety of nutritional supplements, and the ingredients are high-quality ingredients that are designed to be absorbed easily by the body.
- 1000mg of Vitamin C
- Contains a significant dose of vitamin C in an easy to swallow capsule
- Ingredients are designed to be easy to absorb without causing stomach upset
4. Bulk Supplements Vitamin C
Bulk Supplements is a supplement that comes in a pure powder form. There are no GMO ingredients, and the company aims to provide clear labeling so consumers know exactly what they are getting. Each supplement contains 1000mg of vitamin C, which is 1667 percent of the daily RDA. Bulk Supplements is a company that manufactures clean and pure vitamin C supplements. The company prides itself on its independent labratory testing, and they run a legitimate operation. Unlike many companies, they provide a list of possible side effects and risks associated with taking too much vitamin C.
- 1000mg of Vitamin C
- Powder form makes it easy to mix with other drinks
- Contains no added chemicals or fillers
5. Nature’s Bounty Vitamin C-500
The product contains 500mg of vitamin C in absorbic acid form. This is a synthetic form, but studies have shown that the productis absorbed as well as the natural form of vitamin C. There are no known adverse side effects from taking a synthetic vitamin C supplement. Nature’s Bounty Vitamin C is a product that’s manufactured by Nature’s Bounty, Inc., in New York. The company has a large line of supplement products.
- 500mg of Vitamin C
- Made from high-quality ingredients to exacting lab standards.
- Available in a small dosage so you can titrate your dose depending on needs.
6. Twinlab C-1000 Caps
The Twinlab C-1000 caps are capsules that you can take with water. This makes them incredibly easy to digest. The capsules use a gelatin base, and they are not to be considered vegan or vegetarian. However, there are also no tablet binders, coatings or colorings. The product also doesn’t contain any added salt, artificial sweeteners, colorings, preservatives or salicylates. Twinlab C-1000 is made by TwinLab. The company is a major provider of bodybuilding supplements, and the products are considered by many to be professional-level products.
- The product is made without added fillers or unnecessary ingredients
- 1000mg caps make it possible to get your vitamin C requirements with a single pill
7. NOW Foods C-1000
The product contains 1000mg of vitamin C in a capsule form. Flavonoids are included to help improve the absorption of the vitamins. The company uses vegetarian capsules, so you don’t have to worry about getting any extra additives in your capsules. Now Foods makes Now Foods C-1000. The company has developed a reputation for creating high-quality supplements that actually work. Consumer reviews for this company tend to be high, and the company is based in Illinois.
- Contains 1000mg of vitamin C and 100mg of flavonoids
- Manufacturer is known for producing high-quality supplements
- Capsule form makes it easy to get your daily dose
8. Puritan’s Pride Premium C-1000
Puritan’s Pride Premium C-1000 is made with natural ingredients. The vitamin C comes from Rose Hips. The product also includes bio-flavonoids to help increase absorption rates. Taking this product may help to neutralize cell-damaging free radicals that are found in cells. Puritan’s Pride Premium C-1000 is manufactured by Puritan’s Pride. The company specializes in making a wide variety of supplemental products to help people enjoy a healthier life.
- 1,000 mg Vitamin C
- Easy to swallow pills
- Contains a natural form of vitamin C
- Includes bio-flavonoids
9. Dr. Mercola Liposomal Vitamin C
This supplement purports to include only the most beneficial ingredients, so you don’t have to worry about ingesting harmful substances. It’s made without artificial ingredients, and it’s ideal for people who want a pure vitamin C supplement. You’ll get 1000mg of vitamin C in each serving. The product is made by Dr. Mercola. The company aims to use only tested and pure ingredients to ensure you’re getting a quality supplement.
- 1000mg Vitamin C
- Capsule form makes the product easy to take
- May help improve antioxidant levels in the bloodstream
10. Viva Labs Vitamin C
Vita Labs Vitamin C is a high-quality natural source of vitamin C. The product is free of GMOs, and you’ll be certain you’re getting a quality supplement. Vitamin C comes from Rose Hips, absorbic acid and fruit peel for added flavonoids. This combination ensures a high level of absorption, so you can be certain you’re getting what you pay for. Viva Labs makes the product. The company is based in New York, and uses ingredients from pure lands in Scotland. The company does its own testing and also hires third party companies to verify their products.
- 1000mg Vitamin C
- Natural form of vitamin C
- Available in capsule form for easy dosing
- Capsules can be opened and added to food
For most people, the best advice regarding vitamin C is the same as any other nutrient: simply focus on eating a wholesome and varied diet. If you are one of the groups mentioned above however, such as a smoker or a gym junkie, investing in a Vitamin C supplement and taking it at the proper time may bolster your body’s natural healing properties and give you an extra edge to help you feel your best.
 University of Maryland Medical Center. Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid). University of Maryland Medical Center, 2013.
 WebMD. Antioxidants, Topic Overview. WebMD,2015.
 Dotson, Brandon. Vitamin C Dosage to Help Lower Cortisol. Livestrong.com, 2013.