Why do we need Vitamin C supplements?
We need Vitamin C to prevent scurvy
Its official name is Ascorbic Acid, which means anti-scurvy acid. Vitamin C and ascorbic acid are the same thing, regardless of what internet trolls and conspiracy theorists say. Scurvy is chronic Vitamin C deficiency. Symptoms include loss of teeth and hair, bleeding gums, skin rashes, easy bruising, wounds that are slow to heal, and nosebleeds. Scurvy is fatal if left untreated, but you can prevent it by ingesting the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C.
While scurvy is mostly known as a scourge of the seas for peg-legged, hood-handed, eye-patched, pillaging buccaneers, it’s still present in industrialized nations. The majority of cases are related to restrictive diets, mental illness, chronic vomiting, social isolation, and lack of ability to procure food independently. The recommended daily allowance of 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men is the amount needed to merely prevent scurvy, not to meet the needs of our other systems that require Vitamin C.
We need Vitamin C for our immune systemsFor optimal immune function, we need a steady influx of Vitamin C. Our white blood cells, the front lines of our immune system, require substantial amounts of Vitamin C to function and propagate. We also need vitamin C to produce antibodies. Our immune systems need to function as they should all the time, not just when you start feeling rotten. That’s like waiting until the enemy has already invaded to start training an army. Many factors that are not seasonal depress the immune system, including stress, travel, poor diet, and lack of sleep. Since we can’t do anything about these situations, keeping the immune system stocked with critical nutrients minimizes your vulnerability.
We need Vitamin C for collagen production
Vitamin C is a requirement to produce collagen, the most abundant structural protein in your body. Collagen is responsible for strong joints, firm skin, healthy muscle tissue, and intestinal lining that keeps the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. Without Vitamin C, your body can’t produce collagen. Your skin will sag, you will lose muscle, your joints will hurt, and dangerous substances will seep through the gut into the bloodstream.
The criticism of collagen supplements is in their marketing; many manufacturers label their products for skin support, yet there is no guarantee that the digested collagen will ever make it to the skin. Some research says that collagen peptides (derived from cows or fish) are effective in other functions. Most Vitamin C supplements do not contain collagen; they give your body a dose of the raw material required to create your own collagen.
We need Vitamin C to prevent oxidative stressEvery adverse circumstance produces oxidative stress, a condition that causes cascading damage to our cells and tissues while depleting antioxidants like Vitamin C. Replenishing these antioxidants can help prevent the damage and sometimes repair it. Oxidative stress leaves us vulnerable. Biomarkers of oxidative stress indicate premature susceptibility to age-related problems. Numerous factors that we encounter in daily life cause oxidative stress, including:
- Excess body fat
- Poor diet
We need Vitamin C supplements because we can’t produce it
Aside from monkeys and guinea pigs, we humans are the only mammals on Earth that cannot produce our own Vitamin C. If only we had the L-gulonolactone oxidase (GLO) enzyme, we could produce Vitamin C from the sugar in our blood. We have the gene to produce the enzyme, but for reasons that scientists do not yet understand, our liver cells can’t figure out how to do it. Many researchers claim this is evidence that humans once synthesized Vitamin C, but a genetic mutation makes it impossible for modern humans to do so.
Maybe in the future scientists will provide some sort of genetic decryption the liver cells can understand and we’ll produce our own Vitamin C, but in the meantime, we have to supplement to maintain optimal levels. The goat, one of the lucky mammals, synthesizes up to 13X its normal amounts of Vitamin C in response to stress. Taking our cues from nature, we can modulate our Vitamin C intake to meet increased demands of our circumstances.
We need Vitamin C supplements that we can absorb
Vitamin C is difficult to absorb at large doses. We rely on certain proteins to transport the Vitamin C out of the intestine, then out of the bloodstream and into the cells. These proteins are in short supply, in part because we also need them to transport glucose (our cells’ primary energy source). Maybe this is more evidence that we were supposed to produce Vitamin C from our blood glucose, that our systems are not optimal for dietary Vitamin C in the large amounts we need.
Liposomes are microscopic spheres that, if created properly, can encapsulate Vitamin C and carry it from the digestive system to the bloodstream and the cells without relying on the transporter proteins. Since liposomes are made from the same material that comprises our cell membranes (which surround each cell), they can assimilate into the cells and deliver the Vitamin C intact to where it is needed. This system enables you to better absorb larger doses of Vitamin C from oral supplements.