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Vitamin C is essential for fighting infections, wound healing and coping with stress

What is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C, which can also be known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin. This means it is not stored in the body and needs to be continually replaced or replenished.

A primary function of Vitamin C in the body is maintaining collagen levels. Collagen is a protein necessary for the formation of connective tissue in the skin, ligaments and bones.

Vitamin C is the least stable of all vitamins

Vitamin C is the least stable of all vitamins and it is very sensitive to oxygen. This means its potency can be lost through exposure to light and air.

Vitamin C and Wound Healing

Vitamin C plays an important role in healing wounds and burns. This is because it facilitates the formation of connective tissue in the actual scar. Vitamin C also aids in forming red blood cells and prevents haemorrhaging.

Vitamin C Fights Bacterial Infections

In addition to these important things, Vitamin C fights bacterial infections and reduces the effects on the body of some allergy producing substances. For this reason, Vitamin C is frequently used in the prevention and treatment of the common cold. However, be aware, that if you have a cold and already have a lot of mucous, taking Vitamin C can produce more of this.

Vitamin C For The Adrenals

Large amounts of Vitamin C are found in the adrenal glands and this vitamin is essential in the formation of adrenalin. Adrenalin is the hormone that makes us react in any situation. During stress, the level of this vitamin is rapidly used up. So if you are under constant or regular stress, it is very important that you take Vitamin C every day.

Vitamin C and Stress

Because Vitamin C is the stress vitamin, it is used up even more rapidly under stressful situations. Humans, apes and guinea pigs are among the very few animals that need Vitamin C in their foodstuffs, because they are unable to meet bodily needs. Because of this we must rely on a regular dietary source.

Other Benefits Of Vitamin C

  • Vitamin C promotes fine bone and teeth formation, while protecting the dentine and pulp.
  • The lubricating fluid of the joints becomes thinner, allowing freer movement, when the levels of Vitamin C are high. Therefore, arthritic patients given Vitamin C may find some relief of pain.
  • It is an important nutrient in treating wounds because it speeds up the healing process. As well as this, Vitamin C may lower blood cholesterol content of patients with arteriosclerosis. In fact, the serum cholesterol level in individuals has been reduced 35 to 40 % by the intake of Vitamin C.
  • If enough Vitamin C is taken to saturate tissues, it will enter cells, where dormant viruses are and destroy them. As well as this, Vitamin C is essential for stimulating the immune system, enabling the body to resist disease, including cancer. Some individuals taking 10 grams of Vitamin C a day have reported their cancer has disappeared. Other terminal cancer patients lived 4 times longer than those in a control group.
  • Vitamin C increases the power of the body's defence systems, working against bacteria, including the bacteria responsible for tuberculosis, diphtheria, tetanus, staphylococcus and typhoid fever. As you can see, Vitamin C is a very important vitamin to make sure we are all taking, every day.

Vitamin C and Collagen

The need for Vitamin C increases with age, due to a greater need to regenerate collagen. With age, the sex glands develop a greater need for Vitamin C and will draw it from other tissues, leaving these tissues vulnerable to disease.

How easily is Vitamin C absorbed in the body?

Once you have taken Vitamin C orally, it takes 2 or 3 hours before it reaches a maximum level in the blood. After this time, it starts to decrease, as it is eliminated in the urine and through perspiration. Most Vitamin C is eliminated from the body in 3 or 4 hours. This is why Vitamin C should be taken every day and at regular intervals throughout the day, say 4 hourly.

Where is Vitamin C Absorbed in The Body?

Taken orally, most of the vitamin is absorbed through the mucous membranes of the mouth, stomach and upper part of the small intestines. The larger the dose, the less is absorbed. For example if you take a supplementation of 250 milligrams or less, 80% of this will be absorbed, however if you take a supplementation of up to 2 grams, which is 2000 milligrams, approximately 50% of this will be absorbed.

Therefore, it is best to take Vitamin C in small doses, several times a day.

What Interferes With Vitamin C Absorption?

Our body's ability to absorb Vitamin C is reduced by smoking, stress, high fever, prolonged administration of antibiotics or cortisone, inhalation of DDT or petrol fumes and the ingestion of aspirin and other pain killers. A lot of people who get indigestion take baking soda in water. Doing this creates an alkaline medium in the stomach, which destroys Vitamin C.

How Much Vitamin C Do We Need Each Day?

There are a lot of different ideas on how much Vitamin C we need to take each day. This varies from 250mg to 10grams per day. This variation is caused by differences in weight, amount of activity, rate of metabolism, ailments and age. Periods of stress, such as anxiety, infection, alcohol and drug takers, with an injury, surgery, burns or fatigue increase the body's need for this vitamin.

Symptoms Of Too Much Vitamin C

Toxicity symptoms usually do not occur with high intakes of Vitamin C, because the body simply discharges whatever it cannot use. However, large doses may have side effects in some people. Symptoms of too much Vitamin C include a slight burning sensation during urination, loose bowels, intestinal gas and / or skin rashes. When any symptom occurs, dosage should be reduced. It may help to take the vitamin after a meal, which is better for proper assimilation.

Some people have a rare genetic disease that forms kidney stones when large amounts of Vitamin C are taken. These people need to reduce their intake of the vitamin.

Vitamin C can also alter some blood tests, so if you are having any and are also taking this vitamin, you should let the person know who is taking this test.

Reducing The Dosage Of Vitamin C After High Dosing

Lowering the dose level of Vitamin C after ingesting high doses can result in symptoms of scurvy. Therefore, reduction of the vitamin should be done slowly over a period of time, until the body has adjusted.  Leanne James took a high oral dosage (See Vitamin C Flush) and then did not continue the reduced dosage on the third day.  She experienced a blood nose and specifically related this to the shock her body would have experienced due to this.  So be warned, make sure you do reduce the dosage and maintain it, then wean down from this.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Vitamin C Deficiency?

Signs of a deficiency in Vitamin C include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Impaired digestion
  • Bleeding gums
  • Weakened enamel or dentine
  • Tendency to bruising
  • Swollen or painful joints
  • Nosebleeds
  • Anaemia
  • Lowered resistance to infections
  • Slow healing of wounds and fractures


Severe deficiency results in scurvy. Breaks in the capillary walls are signs of Vitamin C deficiency and clots usually form at the point of the break. Therefore, a lack of Vitamin C is a probable cause of heart attacks and strokes initiated by clots.

A Vitamin C Flush

Because Vitamin C promotes the healing of wounds and protects the body from bacterial infections, allergens and other pollutants, it is often beneficial to flush the body with Vitamin C.

Flushing the body can effectively help to treat chemical allergies and chemical poisoning, arsenic and radiation poisoning, influenza and sprains and can prevent a host of other illnesses, including cancer and AIDS.  Always seek professional advice before commencing an intensive flush like this.

Vitamin C Flush For Adults

A Vitamin C flush is where you take 1000mg of Vitamin C every hour until you get diarrhoea. This is not watery diarrhoea; it is what is referred to as "tapioca consistency". This is when the bowel motion is almost curdled.

To do this, you start at the beginning of the day and start taking 1000mg of Vitamin C every hour. Count the amount of 1000mg it takes to get diarrhoea. If you find that by 8pm you still have not got diarrhoea, just count until 8pm.

The following day, you take this large amount (could be 12,000mg!) every 4 hours or three times a day.  This is continued for 2 days. During this time, if your bowel motion becomes watery, reduce the dosage by 1000mg at each of the times. To explain this further.

Lets say you were taking 12,000mg at the morning dose and then again mid day. After the mid day dose you notice your bowel becomes watery. For your evening dose, reduce by 1000mg to 11,000mg.  This is now your new dose. The following day you take 11,000mg in the morning.  If your bowel becomes watery, you reduce by 1000mg, so your mid day dosage is now 10,000mg and so on.  

After the 2 days on the high dosage, reduce the dosage down to around 1000mg three times a day. It is very important that once you have done this flush that you do not, all of a sudden, stop taking Vitamin C.

Once doing the flush, if you decide to stop taking Vitamin C, you must "wean yourself off" by reducing the dosage slowly and gradually, rather than all of a sudden.

Healthyonline stocks the following Vitamin C Supplements...

Vitamin C Hesperidin Complex Powder 200grm, 300grm & 1kg
Clinicians Super Family C 2000 Powder 150grm & 300grm
Clinicians Hi Dose Vitamin C Powder 300grams
Vitamin C Micron Particle 30 Sachets
Spark Of Life Liposomal Vitamin C
Ethical Nutrients Extra C Powder & Tablets
Ester C tablets 1000mg, & Chewables
Radiance Vitamin C Powder 200gram
Natures Goodness Rosehip Capsules 500mg
Natures Goodness Rosehip Juice Concentrate 500ml
Plain Calcium Ascorbate Powder 125gram & 100grams

Chewable Vitamin C products include

Prolife Vitamin C 500mg 60 Chewable
Go Healthy Vitamin C 500mg  200 Chewable
Ester C Echinacea Chewables 120 tablets

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The Naturopathic Team
Ideal Health

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered and is intended to be used for educational and general information purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice or as a means to diagnose, treat, cure or prescribe for any particular condition or disease. You assume all responsibility for the treatment which may be undertaken as a result of the information on this site, or treatment recommended by any other party. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.

If you need help or advice, please email our naturopathic team with your health question.  Please allow 48 hours for a response.

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