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Vitamin C: 7 Myths Busted With These Facts

Vitamin C is an essential component of a healthy and balanced diet. Contrary to the popular belief, it doesn’t cure a common cold and an overdose can lead to several health complications like kidney stones. It is better to rely on the natural sources of vitamin C rather than the supplements. Although it doesn't prevent stress, it can help you handle it better by clearing cortisol from the body.

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is needed for the normal growth and development of the body. It plays a major role in the formation of collagen, absorption of iron, wound healing, maintenance of bone and teeth, and even strengthening your immune system.

Often associated with citrus fruits like orange, grapefruit, and lemon, the nutrient is shrouded in several myths that have been believed in for generations.

Ongoing research has helped separate these myths from facts that have been elaborated below.

Myth 1: Vitamin C Cures The Common Cold

Vitamin C doesn't cure a common cold but reduces the severity of the symptoms.

Fact: There has been no proven evidence of vitamin C as a cure for common cold according to most scientists and international medical advisory groups like the Food and Drug Administration and the American Medical Association. Numerous studies have confirmed this fact. However, vitamin C may lower the severity of cold symptoms, including chills and coughs.

Additionally, regular intake of the recommended dose can provide a good boost to the immune system, thereby reducing the frequency of colds.1

Myth 2: Citrus Is The Best Source Of Vitamin C

Guavas and peppers have a higher vitamin C content

Fact: The amount of vitamin C in citrus fruits like lemons and oranges is lower than what is found in peppers and guavas. According to food comparison charts published by National Health Research Institutes, you can get about 70mg of the nutrient in a medium size orange but more than 200mg from a medium size guava. Spinach, kiwi, papaya and Brussel sprouts are also very good sources of vitamin C.2

Myth 3: There Is No Such Thing As Too Much Vitamin C

Excess of vitamin C can cause rust in the body

Fact: The recommended daily dosage of vitamin C for adults is between 500 to 1000mg. Consuming vitamin C in excess can cause rust inside the body. This happens because too much of this nutrient can cause oxidation when it comes in contact with the iron running in your blood.3

Moreover, a vitamin C overdose can cause bloating, kidney problems, heartburn, insomnia, and nausea.

Myth 4: Consuming Enough Vitamin C Is Sufficient For Weight Loss

Relying only on vitamin C for weight loss is not right

Fact: According to a study published by Arizona State University, the amount of vitamin C in the bloodstream is directly related to the body’s ability to use fat as a fuel source. It is true that lower levels of the nutrient can make it harder to lose weight but relying only on a diet rich in vitamin C is not sufficient.4 5

The only way to achieve your weight loss goals is through a combination of regular exercise, quality sleep, and a balanced diet rich in a variety of nutrients, including vitamin C.

Myth 5: Vitamin C Is The Best Way To Prevent Stress

Vitamin C can help you handle stress but not prevent it

Fact: A healthy dose of vitamin C in the system can only impact the effects of stress and not the occurrence of stress itself. Vitamin C helps the body clear out the primary stress hormone – cortisol. In other words, it may not fully prevent stress but can help in handling it better.

Vitamin C is a vital antioxidant molecule in the brain. It also plays an important role in the synthesis of neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, which regulates your mood and behavior.6

Myth 6: You Can Skip Your Regular Dose Of Vitamin C

Eating foods rich in vitamin C is important to strengthen immunity

Fact: Deficiency diseases caused by the lack of vitamin C are rare. However, that does not mean that this nutrient can be taken for granted. The human body is not able to produce vitamin C naturally, making it important to consume fruits and vegetables that can help meet the average recommended dosage of the nutrient.7

It is essential for maintaining the good health of tissues and quality of skin, fighting infections and strengthening immunity. Furthermore, it promotes wound healing by helping the synthesis of collagen and aiding iron absorption.8

Myth 7: Vitamin C Supplements Are As Good As The Natural Source

It is better to consume vitamin C through natural sources.

Fact: Although there is no significant difference between the vitamin C taken as a supplement and the one consumed through natural sources, the latter is the recommended by doctors and health experts worldwide.

The importance of consuming all vitamins through your diet is frequently discussed. Consuming the nutrient through natural sources minimizes the possibility of any side effects while ensuring that you do not overdose.9 10

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that helps reduce high blood pressure, aids brain function, and ensures a healthy formation of collagen.11 Consuming foods rich in this vitamin can help maintain good health.

References   [ + ]

1. Vitamin C. Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University.2000.
2. Vitamin C. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
3. Too much vitamin C can cause ‘rust’ in the body. University of Florida.2001.
4. Vitamin C Depletion has Links to Lower Fat Oxidation, But Not Weight Loss. Arizona State University.
5. Johnston, Carol S. “Strategies for healthy weight loss: from vitamin C to the glycemic response.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 24, no. 3 (2005): 158-165.
6. Harrison, Fiona E. “Vitamin C Function in the Brain: Vital Role of the Ascorbate Transporter (SVCT2)”Free Radical Biology and Medicine 46, no. 6(2009): 719–730.
7. Pacier, Callen, and Danik M. Martirosyan. “Vitamin C: optimal dosages, supplementation and use in disease prevention.” Functional Foods in Health and Disease 5, no. 3 (2015): 89-107.
8. Vitamin C. Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University.
9. Carr, Anitra C., and Margreet Vissers. “Synthetic or food-derived vitamin C—are they equally bioavailable?.” Nutrients 5, no. 11 (2013): 4284-4304.
10. Fortify Your Knowledge About Vitamins. US Food & Drug Administration.
11. Big Doses of Vitamin C May Lower Blood Pressure. John Hopkins Medicine Publication.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.