Cancer Fighting Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an incredibly versatile vitamin with uses that range from keeping scurvy at bay, to offering an alternative therapy for cancer patients. Why is this vitamin so useful to us and where can we get it from? This week is all about this super vitamin, how much we really need of it, and the best sources to get it from.
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for humans as we are unable to produce it ourselves (endogenously). It is essential because vitamin C is involved in the process of producing collagen, and certain neurotransmitters in the brain – both of which are necessary for optimal form and function of the human body.
Vitamin C also acts as a powerful antioxidant in the body, helping to control free-radicals in the body, and in the regeneration of other antioxidants like vitamin E.
Due to vitamin C’s powerful antioxidant capabilities, research has been looking into high-dose vitamin C as an alternative treatment for cancer patients. Research suggests that administering vitamin C in excess of daily recommended doses can lower cancer markers in the blood, and reduce inflammation in the body.
Where Do We Get it From
Vitamin C is most commonly found in citrus fruits, but can also be found in dark leafy greens, bell peppers (highest vitamin C per serving), and other fruits like kiwi and cantaloupe. If you don’t think you are getting enough from those sources, there are also a number of vitamin C supplements out there, as well as fortified foods to help you get your recommended dose of vitamin C.
How much is the daily recommended dose? For adult males, you are looking at 75 – 90mg/day. For adult females you want to try and get 65-75mg/day, unless you are pregnant or lactating, where you would need 80-85mg/day and 115-120mg/day, respectively. If you are a smoker you actually need 35mg more vitamin C than your non-smoking counterparts do.
What Happens if you don’t get enough Vitamin C?
I am sure we all remember from our high school history books that those brave explorers who sailed across the ocean didn’t always make it to North America in the best of health. Fruit was hard to keep fresh, so the crew of the ships were unable to get their daily recommended amount of vitamin C. This led to an unfortunate disease called scurvy.
Scurvy sets in after about a month with little to no vitamin C intake. It starts with fatigue and the swelling of gums, and progressively gets worse with tissues becoming weak and loosened due to poor collagen production. Healing is impaired and depression begins to set in. Eventually the gums and teeth begin to fall out and bleed. Vitamin C also plays a crucial role in iron absorption, so anemia is another symptom of extreme vitamin C deficiency.
Vitamin C deficiency is characterized as consuming less than 10mg/day.
So be sure to eat your citrus fruits and bell peppers so you don’t suffer the same fate as those early explorers!