In 1747 James Lind, a Scottish Royal Navy surgeon discovered, after carrying out one of the first controlled clinical trials in medical science, that including citrus fruits in the diet of the Royal Navy crewmen prevented and treated the very common disease called scurvy. It was recorded that a month of no vitamin C in the diet was all that was required before the symptoms occurred.
Although vitamin C had not been isolated and identified at this stage, Lind saw a clear correlation between lack of the citrus compounds and the disease developing aboard ship. Yet it took the Admiralty a further 42 years to recognise the effects by ordering that lemon juice be given to sailors.
It took almost two centuries later in the 1930’s that the famous Hungarian-born researcher Albert Szent-Gyorgyi discovered the chemical which is now known as ascorbic acid or ascorbate that is more commonly known of as vitamin C. What he would not have known 70 years ago was how the global market size of vitamin C would grow, it is now valued at a staggering $1.3 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $1.8 billion in 2028
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that we must ingest from food as we cannot manufacture it ourselves. It is not easily stored in our body, so we need to consume it daily, it is found in many fruits and vegetables, some of which boast substantial amounts such as:
Research into vitamin C has continued over the decades which has made this a popular choice of supplementation for health practitioners and the public alike, as there are many health benefits offered this nutrient.
Common cold management which is probably the most widely known health benefit as it may help to reduce the severity and duration of symptoms by enhancing T-Cell production in response to an infection
Other recognised roles that vitamin C are essential for include:
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps to neutralise free radicals and protect us from the related cellular damage. Free radicals are produced in the body from normal metabolic processes. We need antioxidants to prevent unstable radicals causing tissue damage which can contribute to faster ageing, cancer, diabetes, heart diseases, cataract and much more.
Poor lifestyle choices such as smoking and drinking alcohol produces higher levels of free radicals and rapidly depletes tissue levels of vitamin C which we need to neutralise them. It is the same pattern with chronic stress, high sugar diets and toxin exposure especially heavy metals that can lead to cellular damage. An example of this may be seen in the face of an aged smoker with deep wrinkles caused by the tissue damage and subsequent collagen breakdown.
Vitamin C requirements increase when our diet is poor, or we have increased toxin exposure, higher stress levels and negative lifestyle habits. Vitamin C is also known for its ability to synthesise collagen production. It enhances our collagen production and supports healing of musculoskeletal injuries and may have the potential to accelerate bone health after a fracture.
For many, eating enough Vitamin C in the diet can be difficult at a time when higher doses are needed during illness. The natural form of Vitamin C which is the ascorbate acid can be too acidic at therapeutic dose level and may cause loose stools.
It’s for this reason I prefer the product produced by Allergy Research called Buffered Vitamin C (corn source or cassava) which means that the ascorbate (the vitamin C) is bound to minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. The addition of these minerals provides an acid-alkaline buffering effect and therefore makes it better tolerated as it minimises digestive distress even at higher doses.