Vitamin C's benefits are myriad and varied — it boosts the immune system, protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals, and improves iron absorption. If you wish to take vitamin C at night, follow the directions on your supplement's package to ensure the proper dosage.
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Vitamin C Functions
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin — meaning that it dissolves in water for delivery to the body's tissues — and is essential for everyday health and function. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is 90 milligrams per day for men and 75 milligrams per day for women.
Keeping an adequate level of vitamin C benefits the entire body. This vitamin is needed to make collagen, a fibrous protein in connective tissues that is weaved throughout various systems in the body. It helps make several hormones and chemical messengers used in the brain and nerves, and it aids in the absorption of iron.
All fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C. Good fruit sources include:
- Citrus fruits and juices
- Kiwi fruit
- Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and cranberries
Vegetables with lots of vitamin C include:
- Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower
- Green and red peppers
- Spinach, cabbage, turnip greens, and other leafy greens
- Sweet and white potatoes
- Tomatoes and tomato juice
- Winter squash
Vitamin C can also be taken in supplemental form at any time during the day. If you wish to take vitamin C at night, take it according to the directions on the package.
Vitamin C Benefits
Vitamin C is needed for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body, as the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements explains. Vitamin C plays a role in controlling infections and healing wounds, and is an antioxidant that can neutralize harmful free radicals, which are partially responsible for the aging process. Free radicals may be associated with diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
There is a long-held belief that vitamin C can ward off, or even cure, the common cold. But results have not yet been conclusive.
A Finnish review of 29 randomized trials with more than 11,000 participants, published in January 2013 by Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, found that among extremely active people — such as marathon runners, skiers and Army troops doing heavy exercise in subarctic conditions — taking at least 200 milligrams of vitamin C each day appeared to cut the risk of getting a cold in half.
However, for the general population, taking a daily vitamin C supplement did not reduce the risk of getting a cold. However, the review did show that taking at least 200 milligrams of vitamin C, per day, appeared to reduce the duration of cold symptoms by an average of 8 percent in adults, and 14 percent in children.
Vitamin C Side Effects
The Mayo Clinic notes that when taken at appropriate doses, oral vitamin C supplements are generally considered safe, and side effects are usually dose related. Doctors recommend obtaining vitamin C through food — namely fruits and vegetables — but in the event that supplements are needed, they should be taken according to package directions.
The upper-level for a dose of vitamin C supplement is 2,000 milligrams per day, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Potential side effects of taking too much vitamin C in supplement form include nausea, vomiting and heartburn. Other effects include intestinal obstruction, inflamed esophagus, stomach cramps, fatigue, headache, sleepiness, diarrhea, insomnia, skin flushing and kidney stones.
High doses of vitamin C supplements could also interact negatively with certain medications, such as phosphate binders, chemotherapy treatments, estrogen, protease inhibitors, statins, niacin and warfarin. In general, if you're currently taking medication, it's best to speak with your doctor before starting an additional dietary supplement.
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: "Vitamin C"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Vitamin C"
- Mayo Clinic: "Vitamin C"
- University of Rochester Medical Center: "Vitamin C"
- Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: "Vitamin C for Preventing and Treating the Common Cold"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin C Tablet"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Vitamins, the Basics"