Vitamin C, the body’s main water-soluble antioxidant, strengthens immunity, aids wound healing, and supports overall good health. Besides its own powerful antioxidant role, it is an integral part of the body’s antioxidant “defence team” and helps “recharge” the body’s main fat-soluble antioxidant, Vitamin E. Vitamin C is needed to make collagen, the cellular “cement” that provides structure to skin, bones, blood vessels, and other tissues. Diets rich in Vitamin C are linked to increased longevity and decreased risks for cancer, stroke, atherosclerosis, and cataracts. As Vitamin C is water-soluble, it can’t be stored in the body for long - it must be replenished daily. As important as this “protector” nutrient is, more than half of us do not consume the Recommended Dietary Allowance each day. GNLD provides two excellent choices to address this “gap”: Vitamin C Sustained Release and delicious All-C for a chewable option. Our products feature high-potency, high-purity vitamin C plus vitamin C-related factors from whole citrus fruits. GNLD All C includes our exclusive Neo-Plex Concentrate - virtually everything from whole oranges but the water - for better absorption and utilization.
Throughout history, scurvy, or severe Vitamin C deficiency, caused massive suffering. About 450 B.C., the Greek physician Hippocrates first described its symptoms: bleeding gums, tooth loss, fragile bones, and muscle and joint pain. Scurvy also caused weight loss, irritability, fatigue, impaired mental function, shortness of breath, bruising, poor wound healing, internal bleeding, and sudden death from haemorrhage or heart failure. Infamous among sailors on long voyages where fresh fruits and vegetables were luxuries (they spoiled too quickly), scurvy was a scourge of soldiers, explorers, and settlers alike. Certain foods - especially oranges, lemons, and limes - soon became known for their ability to prevent or cure scurvy. By 1795, the British Royal Navy was required to provide one ounce of lime juice in every sailor’s daily ration - hence the nickname limeys.
In the early 20th century, scientists isolated Vitamin C and showed that it was the agent that cured scurvy. Vitamin C was first synthesized in 1933, and the official name for Vitamin C was established as ascorbic acid in 1938. Since then, researchers have discovered numerous critical health-maintaining roles for Vitamin C.
They now know that Vitamin C is a key member of the body’s antioxidant defense team, working with flavonoids to protect body fluids and cells’ watery portions from oxidative damage. It is concentrated in the adrenal glands (responsible for our stress response), eyes, liver, spleen, intestine, bone marrow, pancreas, thymus, kidneys, areas of the brain, and in the white blood cells that make up our immune defenses against bacteria, viruses, and even cancer. Vitamin C-rich diets have been linked to reduced risks for cataracts, cancer, atherosclerosis, and stroke - all conditions where oxidative damage plays a role.
Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling, who first proposed that Vitamin C might keep sniffles, sneezes, and even cancer at bay, generated a flurry of research with the publication of his 1970 book Vitamin C and the Common Cold and the Flu. Since then, research has shown many important functions for Vitamin C:
If your diet is short on Vitamin C, every cell in your body suffers. As most of our body weight is water and Vitamin C resides in watery regions of the body, Vitamin C has a large area to protect. It also helps regenerate our major fat-soluble antioxidant, Vitamin E.
Antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, help prevent oxidative damage. Metabolism involves an oxidative process which may create free radicals, reactive and destructive molecules with the potential to damage cells and increase the risk of disease. Other agents which contain or generate free radicals include: sunlight, radiation, cigarette smoke, smog, heavy metals, ozone, organic solvents, pesticides, herbicides, food additives, and many drugs.
Antioxidants may neutralise, or “mop up,” free radicals before they cause damage. They can also stop oxidative chain reactions, inhibiting further damage even after oxidation has begun. Though antioxidants destroy free radicals, they can be destroyed in the process, so they must constantly be replenished. As long as the body has abundant antioxidants, free radicals are held in check. If the body’s antioxidant defense team becomes overwhelmed, however, free radicals may harm and even destroy cells.
Why does one person exposed to an illness become sick, while another remains well? The strength of the immune system may make the difference, and Vitamin C is an important member of a team of nutrients - including carotenoids, flavonoids, Vitamin E, and a number of minerals - that bolster our resistance to disease. Vitamin C may boost the production of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies.(1,2) The immune system tends to respond more rapidly when cells are saturated with Vitamin C. During an illness, Vitamin C stores become depleted and even a well-balanced diet may not supply enough for optimal body function. Several studies indicate that Vitamin C may help control viral infections causing polio, cold sores, fever blisters, shingles, pneumonia, hepatitis, measles, viral encephalitis, and influenza.(3) And while Vitamin C may not prevent you from catching the common cold, it may reduce the length of a cold by about a day and the severity of symptoms such as coughing, fever, chills, runny nose, and sore throat.(4)
Cancer is a group of about 100 diseases with numerous causes, including unlucky genes. External influences - including tobacco, chronic infections, and a poor diet - account for three-quarters of all cancers. Although a poor diet may raise your cancer risk, a good diet may lower it. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with Vitamin C and other healthful nutrients, and more than 130 scientific studies document their anti-cancer effects.5 The American Cancer Society recommends eating plenty of Vitamin C-rich foods every day. Population studies consistently show that a Vitamin C-rich diet lowers your cancer risk. Low intakes of vitamin C are associated with a two-fold increase in the risk of cancers of the breast, cervix, oesophagus, lung, mouth, pancreas, rectum, colon, and stomach.(5,6,7,8)
Vitamin C may help protect heart and blood vessel health. Vitamin C deficiency is a risk factor for coronary heart disease.(9) In a recent study, men who were deficient in Vitamin C were three times more likely to have a heart attack compared to men who were not deficient in Vitamin C. Also, a good Vitamin C status may cut your risk of a stroke in half. Higher-than-RDA intakes of Vitamin C have been linked to lower risks of cardiovascular death and disease,(10) as well as increases in artery-clearing HDL (“good”) c holesterol,(11) and decreases in artery-clogging oxidized LDL (“bad”) cholesterol10 and blood pressure.(11)
Smoking. As oxidants in cigarette smoke can deplete Vitamin C, smokers tend to have lower blood levels of Vitamin C than non-smokers. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences recommends almost twice as much Vitamin C for smokers as for non-smokers.
Asthma. Vitamin C has antihistamine effects, and in half a dozen small studies, it improved respiratory measurements of people with asthma.(12) In one study, it helped prevent exercise-induced asthma.(13)
Long-term exposure to sunlight is a risk factor for cataracts, the world’s leading cause of blindness. Free radicals in sunlight may cause proteins in the eye’s lens to break down, clump together, and cloud the lens. Vitamin C is 20 times more concentrated in lens tissue than in blood.(14) According to a Harvard study of more than 120,000 nurses, Vitamin C supplements and an antioxidant-rich diet may help lower the risk of cataracts: Women who had taken Vitamin C supplements for at least 10 years had a 45% lower risk of cataracts.(15) People who consume less than 125 mg per day of Vitamin C have four times the risk of developing cataracts compared to those consuming more than 500 mg per day.
Can Vitamin C help you get more out of your workout? Suboptimal intake may contribute to muscular weakness, decreased use of fatty acids, anaemia, poor healing of injuries, decreased aerobic power, muscle and nerve fatigue, and accumulation of lactic acid.(16,17) Vitamin C may improve oxygen utilisation, acclimatisation to heat, work capacity, and recovery after exertion.(18,19,20) While exercise may generate harmful free radicals,(21) Vitamin C, through its antioxidant action, may lessen their damage. In one study, oxidative stress was higher in exercisers who did not supplement with Vitamin C than in those who did.(22)
Vitamin C is especially concentrated in the adrenal glands, which produce hormones in response to all types of stress: physical, mental, and emotional. The normally high levels of Vitamin C in the adrenal glands are depleted when stress hormones are made. Scientists theorise that Vitamin C is needed for the synthesis or release of these hormones. The greater the stress, the greater the Vitamin C requirement.
Pregnancy increases the need for most nutrients, including Vitamin C. The placenta transmits Vitamin C from mother to baby, and at birth the baby’s Vitamin C levels are twice that of the mother. For this reason, pregnant women need additional Vitamin C, especially in the second and third trimesters. Also, nursing mothers lose 25-45 mg of Vitamin C each day (23), as human milk is rich in Vitamin C.
Data from the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I) showed that people who frequently ate fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamin C had a lower risk of dying from all causes, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.(24)
As more and more research demonstrates substantive health benefits for greater-than-RDA amounts of Vitamin C, many people are asking “How much Vitamin C do I need?” Prominent researchers often recommend daily intakes which are much higher than the U.S. RDA of 60 mg (100 mg for smokers), which was designed to prevent the appearance of deficiency symptoms in healthy people. Dr. Linus Pauling, for instance, took 5 000 to 18 000 mg of Vitamin C daily - that’s up to 300 times the RDA! While the RDA may be on the low side, and Pauling’s intake on the high side, an amount in between may be best.
Beyond the RDA. Researchers theorise that the daily Vitamin C intake of our ancestors (more than 400 mg) was much higher than our current intake. Body stores of vitamin C are 1.5 to 2 grams. While humans cannot make Vitamin C, animals that can biosynthesise it make the human equivalent of 1 to 10 grams daily, indicating that the optimal intake for humans may be higher than the RDA. So while the current RDA may be high enough to prevent scurvy, it may be too low to address other basic health needs.
Optimal daily intake. A review of the scientific literature shows that populations with long-term higher-than-RDA intakes of Vitamin C from foods and/or supplements have reduced disease risks. Several researchers have recently suggested raising the RDA to 200 mg, an amount easily obtainable from fruits and vegetables. While this increase may be conservative, it is better than the current RDA. Many of the world’s leading nutritionists take between 500-l 500 mg of Vitamin C each day in their personal health programmes. These are the levels that seem to offer the most benefits, according to recent research.
Above-average needs. Many factors - smoking, caffeine, stress, chronic disease, diabetes, etc. - may create above-average Vitamin C needs. And certain populations - nursing mothers, children, the elderly, those at risk for cardiovascular disease, etc. - may have above-average Vitamin C needs. As tobacco smoke depletes tissues of Vitamin C,(25) 0.5 to 2 grams of Vitamin C daily is recommended for smokers. Others with above-average Vitamin C needs may include people who: live or work with smokers, skip meals, take certain medications, suffer from allergies or illnesses, sustain regular bruises or minor injuries, eat few fruits and vegetables, or are exposed to pollution or toxic substances. Vitamin C is safe even in high doses. While higher-than-RDA intakes are supported by scientific findings, indiscriminate use of Vitamin C is not. Massive doses of Vitamin C may be hazardous to those prone to iron storage disease.
Even though Vitamin C is readily available in foods, most people do not get enough. Some of the richest natural sources of Vitamin C are acerola cherries and rose hips (the base of the rose bloom). Citrus fruits - oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes - are also excellent sources. Other top sources are strawberries and other berries, pineapple, guavas, papayas, cantaloupe, peppers, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, and tomatoes.
Humans are one of the few species that cannot make Vitamin C. All animals require Vitamin C, however, so those whose bodies cannot biosynthesise it must obtain a steady supply in the diet. But Vitamin C is water-soluble and is therefore impossible to store for long periods. Compounding this problem is the fact that Vitamin C, a fragile nutrient that is easily oxidised and attacked by enzymes, can be destroyed in significant amounts during food harvesting, transportation, storage, processing, and cooking. The Vitamin C in fresh green beans, for instance, can deteriorate 50% in the week between harvest and purchase. The bottom line? Your diet may not be meeting your Vitamin C needs.
Do you get enough Vitamin C? That depends if your primary goal is 1) to prevent deficiency symptoms or 2) to hinder oxidation, lessen free-radical damage, and promote optimal health. Most of us do not get the amount of Vitamin C we need each day to prevent even minor deficiency. And if we’re not getting enough Vitamin C to meet goal number one, we’re certainly not getting enough to meet goal number two. Consider:
GNLD provides two excellent choices to help you address the Vitamin C “gap” and assure that your dietary needs are being met: Vitamin C for sustained release and delicious All-C for a chewable option. All our products feature high-potency, high purity Vitamin C plus Vitamin C-related factors from oranges, lemons, and grapefruit. All-C also contain rose hips and acerola cherries - nature’s richest vitamin C sources!
Delicious cherry-flavoured All-C is great for children or anyone who prefers chewable tablets. You can take them through-out the day to maintain high Vitamin C levels, or take a tablet whenever you want the Vitamin C value of 4 small oranges.
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(2) Cameron, E., and Pauling, L. The Orthomolecular Treatment of Cancer. I. The Role of Ascorbic Acid in Host Resistance. Chem.-Biol. Interactions 9:273-283, 1974.
(3) Jariwalla, R.J., and Harakeh, S. Mechanisms Underlying the Action of Vitamin C in Viral and Immunodeficiency Disease. In: Vitamin C in Health and Disease. Packer, L., and Fuchs, J., eds. Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, 1997, pp. 309-322.
(4) Hemilä, H., and Herman, Z.S. Vitamin C and the Common Cold: A Retrospective Analysis of Chalmers’ Review. J. Am. Coll. Nutr. 14:116-123, 1995.
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(19) Keith, R.E. Vitamins and Physical Activity. Nutrition in Exercise and Sport, 2nd Ed. Wolinsky, I., and Hickson, Jr., J.F., eds., CRC Press, Boca Raton, 1994, pp. 159-183. (20) Brouns, F., and Saris, W. How Vitamins Affect Perf. J. Sports Med. and Phys. Fit 29:400-404, 1989.
(21) Somani, S.M., and Arroyo, C.M. Exercise Training Generates Ascorbate Free Radical in Rat Heart. Indian J. Physiol. Pharmacol. 39:323-329, 1995.
(22) Alessio, H.M., Goldfarb, A.H., and Cao, G. Exercise-induced Oxidative Stress Before and After Vitamin C Supplementation. Int. J. Sport Nutr. 7:1-9, 1997.
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(24) Enstrom, J.E., Kanim, L.E., and Klein, M.A. Vitamin C Uptake and Mortality among a Sample of the United States Population. Epidemiology 3:194-202, 1992.
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(26) Ensminger, A.H., Ensminger, M.E., Konlande, J.E., and Robson, J.R.K. Food Compositions. In: The Concise Encyclopedia of Foods & Nutrition, CRC Press, Boca Raton, 1995, pp. 428-429.
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(28) Patterson, B.H., Block, G., Rosenberger, W.F., et al. Fruit and Vegetables in the American Diet: Data From the NHANES II Survey. Am. J. Public Health 80:1443-1449, 1990.
(29) Vinson, J.A., and Bose, P. Comparative Bioavailability to Humans of Ascorbic Acid Alone or in a Citrus Extract. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 48:601-604, 1988.