How Much Vitamin C Do I Need In A Day?
It is important to note that this recommended intake is substantially higher for new moms. Pregnant women are advised to practically double this amount with 80 mg per day, while moms who are breastfeeding need to ensure that they get 60 mg through their daily diets.
What are the benefits of Vitamin C, and what does it do?
Vitamin C plays a vital role in many of our body’s metabolic processes. It helps in the absorption of iron and is an essential micronutrient for a strong, responsive immune system.
It is actively involved in the growth, development, and repair of all body tissues and the formation of collagen and the maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.
A powerful antioxidant, this vitamin gets rid of free radicals, thus relieving oxidative stress and reducing cell damage in our bodies.
In addition to helping with tissue development for expecting mothers, Vitamin C also helps nursing moms improve breast-milk supply and flow while they are lactating. It also helps prevent atopy (allergies) in infants that are at high risk for the same.
Why do we need Vitamin C in our diets?
Our bodies do not make Vitamin C (aka ascorbic acid). What’s more, since this is a water-soluble vitamin, it gets flushed out of our system rather easily and does not get stored in the body at all. Therefore, the only way we can cater to our body’s requirement for this micronutrient is through our food.
What are the natural sources of Vitamin C?
The good news is that Vitamin C is fairly abundant and can be obtained through many natural sources quite easily.
Here are a few simple ways to ensure that you hit your Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) without missing a beat:
- An orange contains 70mg of Vitamin C. They’re convenient to carry, are packed with fiber, low in calories, offer loads of other benefits and are available from October to May (depending on which part of India you live in). Most citrus fruits (lemons, lime, grapefruit) in general are rich in this vitamin. With 543 mg per 100 g, lemons are a good option too.
- Berries: 20 g of Indian gooseberries (Amla) contains approximately 60-70 mg/dl (100 g, which is about half a cup of this super fruit, contains 300 mg/dl). Also, 100 g of strawberries contain 58.8mg of Vitamin C.
- Bell peppers (capsicum) and chillies are also good low-calorie options. Chillies might be hard to include in your food every day, but 1/2 cup of chopped green capsicum contains 60 mg of Vitamin C, which is quite achievable.
For those of us who do not enjoy sour or spicy flavours, tire easily of certain fruits and vegetables, or do not have the time to factor in the individual components that make up the food we eat, Vitamin C is an easy supplement to get. It is also one of the tastier ones available and can be found in many formulations.
However, if you have the time and inclination to plan your meals out, here’s a quick cheat sheet of the best sources and concentrations of Vitamin C in servings of 100g each.
What happens with a Vitamin C deficiency?
Vitamin C deficiency symptoms may not be apparent immediately and can take quite a few months to show. Weakness, lassitude, and irritability are early (if innocuous) signs of the same.
Other symptoms of Vitamin C deficiency:
- Falling sick often
- Dry, damaged skin
- Mood changes
- Oxidative stress
What happens if I have too much Vitamin C?
While exceeding the daily recommended amount of Vitamin C by a little bit is not likely to have serious consequences, there are a few thresholds one needs to be mindful of.
Consuming more than 2000 mg of Vitamin C (that’s ~30 oranges or 50 supplements), consistently each day can lead to acid reflux and can upset your gastrointestinal lining. Such excesses may also result in nausea, vomiting, heartburn, abdominal cramps, headaches, and insomnia. Since vitamin C is water-soluble, it is generally excreted from the body and urine in the form of oxalate. A build-up of oxalate waste, while rare, can lead to kidney stones.
Vitamin C is absolutely indispensable as a component of any diet, especially for new mothers, and is critical for optimal growth, development and bodily functions. If you’re struggling to hit your daily allowances or need more information on how much Vitamin C you should be taking and how to get it, drop us a line in the comments section below.