Vitamin C


Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid and L-ascorbic acid, is a vitamin which is an essential nutrient required in the repair of tissue and the enzymatic production of certain neurotransmitters.

March 29, 2019

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid and L-ascorbic acid, is a vitamin which is an essential nutrient required in the repair of tissue and the enzymatic production of certain neurotransmitters.
It is required for the functioning of several enzymes and is important for immune system function. It also functions as an antioxidant. It is found in various foods and sold as a dietary supplement. It is on the World Health Organization Model List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system. Vitamin C is available as an inexpensive generic medication and over-the-counter drug.
Vitamin C is generally well tolerated. Normal doses are safe during pregnancy also. However, large doses may cause gastrointestinal discomfort, headache, trouble sleeping, and flushing of the skin.
It can't be produced by the body. But, it has many roles in your body and has been linked to impressive health benefits. It is water-soluble and found in many fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits including oranges, strawberries, kiwi fruit, bell peppers, broccoli, kale and spinach.
Vitamin C can also be made in a laboratory. It is recommended to get vitamin C from a diet high in fruits and vegetables rather than taking supplements. Fresh-squeezed orange juice or fresh-frozen concentrate are good sources.

Uses & Effectiveness:

Effective for Treating:

Vitamin C deficiency:

Taking vitamin C by mouth or injecting as a shot prevents and treats vitamin C deficiency, including scurvy. Also, taking vitamin C can reverse problems associated with scurvy.

Likely Effective for:

Iron absorption:

Vitamin C along with iron can increase the amount of iron absorption in the body both in adults and children.

Treating Tyrosinemia:

Taking vitamin C by mouth or as a shot improves a genetic disorder in newborns in which blood levels of the amino acid tyrosine are too high.

Possibly Effective for Treating:

Age-related vision loss (age-related macular degeneration or AMD):

Taking a combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc helps prevent AMD from becoming worse in people at high risk for developing advanced AMD.

Albuminuria:

Taking vitamin C with vitamin E can reduce protein in the urine in people with diabetes.

Atrial fibrillation:

Taking vitamin C before and for a few days after heart surgery helps prevent irregular heartbeat after heart surgery.

Common cold:

Taking vitamin C does not appear to prevent colds. However, taking 1-3 grams of vitamin C might shorten the course of the cold by 1 to 1.5 days.

Complex regional pain syndrome:

Taking vitamin C after surgery or injury to the arm or leg seems to prevent complex regional pain syndrome from developing which is a chronic pain condition.

Erythema after cosmetic skin procedures:

Using a skin cream containing vitamin C might decrease skin redness following laser resurfacing for scar and wrinkle removal.

Gastritis:

Some medicine used to treat H. pylori infection can worsen stomach inflammation. Taking vitamin C along with one of these medicines called omeprazole might decrease this side effect.

Gout:

Vitamin C doesn't help treat gout. However higher intake of vitamin C from the diet is linked to a lower risk of gout in men.

Hemolytic Anemia:

Taking vitamin C supplements might help manage anemia in people undergoing dialysis.

High blood pressure:

Taking vitamin C along with medicine to lower blood pressure helps lower systolic blood pressure. But it does not seem to lower diastolic pressure. Taking vitamin C does not seem to lower blood pressure when taken without medicine to lower blood pressure.

High cholesterol:

Taking vitamin C might reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL or bad) cholesterol in people with high cholesterol.

Lead poisoning:

Consuming vitamin C in the diet seems to lower blood levels of lead.

Upper airway infections caused by heavy exercise:

Using vitamin C before heavy physical exercise, such as a marathon, might prevent upper airway infections that can occur after heavy exercise.

Osteoarthritis:

Taking vitamin C from dietary sources or from calcium ascorbate supplements seems to prevent cartilage loss and worsening of symptoms in people with osteoarthritis.

Sunburn:

Taking vitamin C by mouth or applying it to the skin along with vitamin E might prevent sunburn. But taking vitamin C alone does not prevent sunburn.

Wrinkled skin:

Skin creams containing vitamin C seem to improve the appearance of wrinkled skin.

It is also Possibly Effective for:

Emptying the colon before a colonoscopy:

The person must make sure that their colon is empty before a person undergoes a colonoscopy. This emptying is called bowel preparation. Some bowel preparation involves drinking 4 liters of medicated fluid. If vitamin C is included in the medicated fluid, the person only needs to drink 2 liters.

Helping medicines used for chest pain work longer:

The body develops tolerance and the medicines stop working as well in some people who take medicines for chest pain. Taking vitamin C seems to help these medicines, such as nitroglycerine, work for longer.

Physical performance:

Eating more vitamin C as part of the diet might improve physical performance and muscle strength in older people. Also, taking vitamin C supplements might improve oxygen intake during exercise in teenage boys.

Possibly Ineffective for Treating:

Bronchitis:

Taking vitamin C by mouth does not seem to have any effect on bronchitis.

Asthma:

Some people with asthma have low vitamin C levels in their blood. But taking vitamin C does not seem to reduce the chance of getting asthma or improve asthma symptoms in people who already have asthma.

Atherosclerosis:

Higher intake of vitamin C as part of the diet is not linked with a reduced risk of atherosclerosis that is hardening of the arteries. Also, taking vitamin C supplements does not seem to prevent atherosclerosis from becoming worse in most people with this condition.

Colon cancer:

Higher intake of vitamin C from food or supplements is not linked with a lower risk of cancer in the colon or rectum.

Fracture:

Taking vitamin C does not seem to improve function, symptoms, or healing rates in people with a wrist fracture.

Ulcers caused by a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori):

Taking vitamin C along with medicines used to treat H. pylori infection doesn't seem to get rid of H. pylori better than taking the medicines alone.

Inherited nerve damage such as hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy:

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is a group of inherited disorders that cause nerve damage. Taking vitamin C does not seem to prevent nerve damage from becoming worse in people with this condition.

Eye damage associated with a medicine called interferon:

Taking vitamin C by mouth does not seem to prevent eye damage in people receiving interferon therapy for liver disease.

Leukemia:

Taking vitamin C does not seem to prevent leukemia or death due to leukemia in men.

Lung cancer:

Taking vitamin C, alone or with vitamin E, does not seem to prevent lung cancer or death due to lung cancer.

Melanoma:

Taking vitamin C, alone or with vitamin E, does not prevent melanoma or death due to melanoma.

Overall risk of death:

High blood levels of vitamin C have been linked with a reduced risk of death from any cause. But taking vitamin C supplements along with other antioxidants does not seem to prevent death.

Pancreatic cancer:

Taking vitamin C together with beta-carotene plus vitamin E does not prevent pancreatic cancer.

Pre-eclampsia:

Most research shows that taking vitamin C with vitamin E does not prevent high blood pressure during pregnancy.

Prostate cancer:

Taking vitamin C supplements does not seem to prevent prostate cancer.

Bladder cancer:

Taking vitamin C supplements does not seem to prevent bladder cancer or reduce bladder cancer-related deaths in men.

Skin problems related to radiation cancer treatments:

Applying a vitamin C solution to the skin does not prevent skin problems caused by radiation treatments.

Insufficient Evidence for:

More evidence is needed to rate vitamin C for the below uses:

Hay fever:

Using nasal spray containing vitamin C seems to improve nasal symptoms in people with allergies that last all year. Taking vitamin C by mouth might block histamine in people with seasonal allergies. But results are conflicting.

Alzheimer's disease:

Higher intake of vitamin C from food is linked with a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease):

Higher intake of vitamin C from food or supplements is not linked with a reduced risk of ALS.

Stomach damage caused by aspirin:

Taking vitamin C might prevent stomach damage caused by aspirin.

Atopic disease:

It is a condition associated with an increased risk for developing allergic reactions. Higher intake of vitamin C is not linked with a lower risk of eczema, wheezing, food allergies, or allergic sensitization.

Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD):

Taking high doses of vitamins, including vitamin C, does not seem to reduce ADHD symptoms. But taking lower doses of vitamin C along with flax seed oil might improve some symptoms, such as restlessness and self-control.

Autism:

Early research shows that taking vitamin C might reduce the severity of autism symptoms in children.

Breast cancer:

Higher intake of vitamin C from food seems to be linked with a reduced risk of death in people diagnosed with breast cancer. Also, taking vitamin C supplements after being diagnosed with breast cancer seems to help reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer.

Burns:

Receiving a vitamin C infusion within the first 24 hours of severe burns reduces wound swelling.

Cancer:

Higher intake of vitamin C from food is linked with a lower risk of developing cancer. But taking vitamin C supplements doesn't seem to prevent cancer. In people diagnosed with advanced cancer, taking large doses (10 grams) of vitamin C by mouth doesn't seem to improve survival or prevent cancer from getting worse. But high doses of vitamin C might increase survival when given by IV.

Hardening of the arteries after heart transplant:

Taking vitamin C and vitamin E for a year after a heart transplant helps prevent hardening of the arteries.

Heart disease:

Research on the use of vitamin C for heart disease is controversial. More research on the use of vitamin C supplements for preventing heart disease is needed. But increasing intake of vitamin C from food might provide some benefit.

Cataracts:

Higher intake of vitamin C from food is linked with a lower risk of developing cataracts. People who take supplements containing vitamin C for at least 10 years have a lower risk of developing cataracts.

Cervical cancer:

Taking vitamin C may reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
Side effects caused by chemotherapy. Early research suggests that higher intake of vitamin C from food is linked with fewer chemotherapy side effects in children being treated for leukemia.

Damage to the colon due to radiation exposure (chronic radiation proctitis):

Taking vitamin C plus vitamin E might improve some symptoms of chronic radiation proctitis.

Kidney problems caused by dyes used during some X-ray exams:

Taking vitamin C before and after receiving a contrast agent helps reduce the risk of developing kidney damage.

Dental plaque:

Chewing gum containing vitamin C seems to reduce dental plaque.

Depression:

Taking vitamin C along with the antidepressant drug fluoxetine reduces depression symptoms in children and teens better than fluoxetine alone. But taking vitamin C along with the antidepressant drug citalopram does not reduce depression symptoms in adults better than citalopram alone.

Diabetes:

Taking vitamin C supplements might improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes. But results are conflicting. Higher intake of vitamin C from food isn't linked with a lower risk of developing diabetes.

Damage to heart caused by the drug doxorubicin:

Taking vitamin C, vitamin E, and N-acetyl cysteine may reduce heart damage caused by the drug doxorubicin.

Cancer of the lining of the uterus (endometrial cancer):

Higher intake of vitamin C from food might be linked with a lower risk of endometrial cancer. But conflicting results exist.

Cancer of the esophagus:

Taking vitamin C along with beta-carotene plus vitamin E does not reduce the risk of developing esophageal cancer. But higher intake of vitamin C from food is linked with a lower risk of esophageal cancer.

Asthma caused by exercise:

Taking vitamin C might prevent asthma caused by exercise.

Gallbladder disease:

Taking vitamin C might help to prevent gallbladder disease in women but not men.

Stomach cancer:

Higher intake of vitamin C from food is not linked with a lower risk of stomach cancer in most research. Also, taking vitamin C along with other antioxidants doesn't seem to prevent stomach cancer. But taking vitamin C supplements might prevent precancerous sores in the stomach from progressing to cancer in people at high risk. This includes people previously treated for H. pylori infection.

HIV/AIDS:

Taking high or low doses of vitamin C along with other antioxidants doesn't reduce the amount of HIV in the blood of people with HIV/AIDS.

HIV transmission:

Taking vitamin C along with vitamin B and vitamin E during pregnancy and breast-feeding seems to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to the infant.

High phosphate levels:

People with kidney disease who are undergoing dialysis often have high blood phosphate levels. Giving vitamin C by IV seems to reduce phosphate levels in these people.

Hearing loss:

Vitamin C may improve hearing in people with sudden hearing loss when used with steroid therapy.

Infertility:

Women with certain fertility problems might benefit from taking vitamin C daily.

Mental stress:

Vitamin C might reduce blood pressure and symptoms during times of mental stress.

Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, NASH:

Taking vitamin C along with vitamin E might reduce liver scarring in people with a type of liver disease called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. But it doesn't seem to decrease liver swelling. Also it doesn't work for liver disease due to alcohol use.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma:

Higher intake of vitamin C from foods or supplements is linked with a lower risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma in postmenopausal women which is a type of Cancer that affects white blood cells.

Mouth cancer:

Higher intake of vitamin C from food is linked with a lower risk of mouth cancer.

Osteoporosis:

Vitamin C might improve bone strength. But higher vitamin C blood levels in postmenopausal women have been linked to lower bone mineral densities. More information is needed on the effects of vitamin C on bone mineral density.

Ovarian cancer:

Higher intake of vitamin C from food is not linked with a lower risk of ovarian cancer.

Parkinson's disease:

Higher intake of vitamin C from food is not linked with a lower risk of Parkinson's disease.

Peripheral Arterial Disease:

Higher intake of vitamin C from food is linked with a lower risk of developing poor circulation in women but not men. It might help i reducing leg pain associated with poor blood flow.

Pneumonia:

Vitamin C might reduce the risk of pneumonia, as well as the duration of pneumonia once it develops. This effect seems greatest in those with low vitamin C levels before treatment. However, it is not clear if vitamin C is beneficial in people with normal vitamin C levels.

Pain after surgery:

Taking vitamin C one hour after anesthesia reduces the need for morphine after surgery. This suggests that it might reduce pain. But vitamin C doesn't seem to improve the need to use the pain-relieving drug paracetamol.

Complications during pregnancy:

Taking vitamin C alone during pregnancy might help prevent the amniotic sac from breaking before labor begins. But taking vitamin C with other supplements doesn’t seem to help. Also, taking vitamin C, alone or with other supplements, does not prevent many other pregnancy complications including preterm birth, miscarriage, stillbirth, and others.

Premature rupture of membranes or PROM:

Taking vitamin C plus vitamin E starting during the second or third trimester and continuing until delivery seems to help delay delivery in pregnant women whose amniotic sacs broke early. It might reduce the risk of breaking of the amniotic sac before labor begins.

Bed sores (pressure ulcers):

Vaking vitamin C does not improve wound healing in people with pressure ulcers. However, taking vitamin C reduces the size of pressure ulcers.

Restless legs syndrome:

Taking vitamin C alone or in combination with vitamin E seems to reduce the severity of restless legs syndrome in people undergoing hemodialysis. But it's not known if vitamin C is beneficial in people with restless legs syndrome that is not related to hemodialysis.

Sickle cell disease:

Taking vitamin C with aged garlic extract and vitamin E might benefit people with sickle cell disease.

Stroke:

Higher intake of vitamin C from food seems to be linked with a reduced risk of stroke. But conflicting results exist. Taking vitamin C supplements doesn't seem to be linked with a reduced risk of stroke.

Tetanus:

Taking vitamin C along with conventional treatment appears to reduce the risk of death in children with tetanus. It might help prevent bacterial infection in the nervous system.

Urinary tract infections (UTI):

Taking vitamin C does not prevent UTIs in older people.

Vascular dementia:

Higher intake of vitamin C and vitamin E from supplements does not seem to be linked with a reduced risk of vascular dementia in Japanese-American men. The disease occur due to mental decline caused by reduced blood flow to the brain.

Some of the other common health issues where more evidence is needed to rate vitamin C are:

  •     Acne.
  •     Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
  •     Constipation.
  •     Cystic fibrosis.
  •     Dental cavities.
  •     Kidney disease.
  •     Lyme disease.
  •     Tuberculosis.
  •     Wounds.
  •     Other conditions.