Vitamin C Dosage: How Much Do You Need?
The U.S. government recommends a daily Vitamin C dosage for adult women at 75 mg and for adult men at 90 mg. That means you’ve already met your daily allowance by eating one large orange.
Weird, huh? Not if you’ve seen the food pyramid which is primarily composed of grains and breads that, without fortification, include no vitamins. So, when you think about the recommended Vitamin C dosage in context of the other government dietary guidelines, it makes sense. The issue is, like anything else involving diet and nutrient intake, the correct Vitamin C dosage varies by more factors than gender. And numerous scientists and doctors claim the recommended daily allowance is dangerously low.
Indeed, the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C is the minimum amount needed to prevent scurvy, which is just a concise way of saying Vitamin C deficiency that can lead to death. Now, if your main goal is to avoid diseases of 16th century pirates, the 75–90 mg per day may suit you just fine. Numerous researchers, dating back to Vitamin C pioneer Linus Pauling, recommend a much higher intake of Vitamin C for optimal wellness, not just deficiency avoidance.
Conflicting Interpretations of Vitamin C Dosage Research
Back in the 1990s, researchers recommended at least 150–200 mg per day to support the immune system, pulmonary function, and iron absorption.
Researchers now say the ideal Vitamin C dosage is that which enables you to achieve plasma saturation. Of course, you won’t know what that is unless you are somehow testing your plasma for Vitamin C content on a regular basis. That’s why general recommendations are just that; suggestions, not hard and fast rules. Here’s where a lot of conflicting studies come in. It started in a 1996 National Institutes of Health study which claimed that blood can be saturated with Vitamin C at a single dose of 200 mg. Researchers are now claiming this recommendation is based on a misinterpretation of data.
Vitamin C is highly water-soluble, so it is excreted easily. Researchers have found there is an inverse relationship between the percent of Vitamin C absorbed and the Vitamin C dosage in traditional oral supplements. Note the “traditional oral supplements” caveat: this data only applies to pills, powders, and gummies that come into contact with digestive juices that destroy Vitamin C before it reaches the bloodstream. These results do not apply to high doses of Vitamin C taken in liposomal supplements or injected directly into the bloodstream. And that’s just one point of decontextualized data being used to make sweeping recommendations to to a population. Indeed, studies have found that liposomal Vitamin C supplements provide higher circulating concentrations of Vitamin C in the blood than traditional oral supplements. That’s important to achieve consistent saturation.
Numerous Vitamin C researchers are now recommending Vitamin C dosages be staggered throughout the day, so we can maintain optimal plasma saturation levels at all times. This is the Dynamic Flow model for Vitamin C consumption introduced in a 2005 paper, which aimed to unite both the low and high sides of the Vitamin C dosage argument.
This is how they describe it:
“The dynamic flow model proposes restoring human physiology to approximately that of animals that synthesize their own vitamin C. This can be achieved by consuming excess ascorbate, over and above the amount normally absorbed. This intake is spread throughout the day, so a consistent supply is achieved. Some of the excess ascorbate is absorbed into the blood plasma, while the rest remains in the gut. As in animals that synthesize the molecule, some ascorbate is lost through the kidneys. However, there is a steady flow of antioxidant electrons through the body, with a reserve available to combat stress or free radical damage.”
The purpose of the Dynamic Flow model is to maintain plasma and tissue saturation so the body has reserves from which to pull Vitamin C when faced with excess free radicals, thereby mimicking a process that is found in nature.
Vitamin C Dosage in the Wild
Wild animals produce vitamin C in their own bodies, as theorized that humans did a long time ago. Adult goats have the same rough body size as adult humans. They produce about 13,000 mg daily. That’s ~145 times the RDA for an adult male. And, 13,000 mg is just the standard. When faced with danger or illness (a.k.a., stress), goats can push their output to 10 times that baseline level, signifying that Vitamin C is nature’s prophylactic. So, if we are to follow nature’s policy, it seems safe to say that our RDA should fluctuate based on circumstances.
Some researchers subscribe to the increasingly accepted theory that humans once synthesized Vitamin C in their bodies. Somewhere along our journey, we lost the gene that activates the enzyme necessary to synthesize Vitamin C in the liver. The Dynamic Flow model suggests using diet and supplements to replicate our long-lost ability.
If we’re stressed out, should we be taking 10X our normal Vitamin C dosage to mimic the natural production of the goat? We don’t know.
What we do know is that taking mega doses of Vitamin C poses minimal risk. Some people taking high oral doses of Vitamin C report gastric distress — stomach aches, diarrhea, and the like. Luckily, that’s easy to avoid by taking Lypo-Spheric® Vitamin C. Our Vitamin C molecules are encapsulated in liposomes that maximize absorption without the unpleasant gastric symptoms.
What is true is there have been no documented lethal doses. People have been known to receive daily intravenous doses of up to 50,000 mg for up to eight weeks without evidence of toxicity.
Vitamin C Dosage Requirements Are In Flux
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant. Its job is to neutralize reactive oxygen species (ROS, or, as the are commonly known, free radicals). Free radicals are missing an electron, and, the unscrupulous fiends that they are, they steal electrons from healthy cells, making them unstable. Each Vitamin C molecule — and that of other antioxidants like Vitamin E, selenium, and Glutathione — has an electron to spare, so Vitamin C donates that electron to the free radicals, thus neutralizing them. At that point, the antioxidant has now lost its potency and leaves the body as waste, its job done. When you have elevated free radicals due to high stress or illness, it makes sense that you would require a higher Vitamin C dosage than on days when your free radical content is at baseline levels.
That’s why smokers have a higher Vitamin C RDA than non-smokers. Smoking generates free radicals in the body, so people who smoke need a higher Vitamin C dosage to neutralize these extra free radicals in addition to the standard ones to which we are exposed just by living in the 21st century.
So, what is the optimal Vitamin C dosage? Well, that depends more on the content of free radicals in your body at any given moment than age or gender.
Just note that higher doses can interfere with certain medications, so it's always best to consult your physician if you are taking prescription medications before taking high-dose supplements like a micronutrient-conscious pirate returning from months on the high seas.These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.