Vitamin C

This vitamin is probably better known and more widely used than any other nutritional supplement. But even if you think you’re familiar with vitamin C, read on. You may be surprised to discover exactly how versatile and health-enhancing this nutrient truly is.

Further Reading on Vitamin C

What it is

As early as 1742, lemon juice was known to prevent scurvy, a debilitating disease that often plagued long-distance sailors. But not until 1928 was the healthful component in lemon juice identified as vitamin C. Its antiscurvy, or antiscorbutic, effect is the root of this vitamin’s scientific name: ascorbic acid. Today, interest in vitamin C is based less on its ability to cure scurvy than on its potential to protect cells. As the body’s primary water-soluble antioxidant, vitamin C helps to fight damage caused by unstable oxygen molecules called free radicals – especially in those areas that are mostly water, such as the interior of cells.

What it does

Vitamin C is active throughout the body. It helps to strengthen the capillaries (the tiniest blood vessels) and cells walls and is crucial for the formation of collagen (a protein found in connective tissue). It these ways, vitamin C prevents bruising, promotes healing, and keep ligaments (which connect muscle to bone), tendons (which connect bone to bone) and gums strong and healthy. It also helps to produce haemoglobin in red blood cells and helps the body to absorb iron from foods.


As an antioxidant, vitamin C offers protection against cancer and heart disease; several studies have shown that low levels of this vitamin are linked to heart attacks. In addition, vitamin C may actually strengthen life. In one study, men who consumed more than 300 mg of vitamin C a day (from food and supplements) lived longer than men who consumed less than 50 mg a day.

Another study found that over the long term, vitamin C supplements protect against cataracts, a clouding of the lens of the eye that interferes with vision. Women who took vitamin C for 10 years or more had a 77% lower rate of early ‘lens opacities’, the first stage of cataracts, than women who didn’t use supplements.

Additional benefits

Does vitamin C prevent colds? Yes it does. New studies show thatVitamin C can help prevent colds! Something we have seen in ourpatients for many years. Also regular intake of Vitamin C can help tolessen symptoms and may shorten the duration of this illness.

In a 1995analysis of studies exploring the connection between vitamin C andcolds, the researchers concluded that taking 1000-6000 mg a day at theonset of cold symptoms reduces the cold’s duration significantly. Other studies have shown that vitamin C helps elderly people tofight severe respiratory infections. Vitamin C also appears to be anatural antihistamine. High doses of the vitamin can block the effectof inflammatory substances produced by the body in response to pollen,pet dander or other allergens.

The vitamin is an effective asthma remedy as well. Numerous studies have found that vitamin C supplements helped to prevent or improve asthmatic symptoms. For people with type 1 diabetes, which interferes with the transport of vitamin C into cells, supplementation with 1000-3000 mg a day may prevent some complications of the disease, such as eye problems and high cholesterol levels.

Common uses

  • Enhances immunity
  • Minimises cold symptoms; shortens duration of illness
  • Speeds wound healing
  • Promotes healthy gums
  • Treats asthma
  • Helps to prevent cataracts
  • Protects against some forms of cancer and heart disease


  • Tablet
  • Capsule
  • Liquid
  • Powder

How much you need

Conservative experts think that an optimal intake is at least 500 mg a day, and they recommend higher doses for the treatment of specific diseases.

If you get too little: You’d have to consume less than 10 mg a day to get scurvy, but receiving less than 50 mg a day has been linked with an increased risk of heart attack, cataracts and a shorter life expentancy.

Large doses of vitamin C (between 2000 to 6000 mg) are required for a therapeutic dose. That is, if you have a cold or an acute infection you will need at least between 2 to 6 grams per day to combat the disease. Some health practitioners do recommend higher doses, depending on the individual needs of their patients.

Note that high doses of Vitamin C can cause diarrhoea and flatulence; particularly if you are not using a buffered formula. The products that Emed recommends (on the top right of this page) are buffered formulas so they have less impact and the gastrointestinal tract and are absorbed better. Basically, if you are still having trouble with diarrhoea, then you may have to reduce

In the prolonged use of extrem

these can be corrected by reducing your daily dose. At this level, the vitamin may interfere with the absorption of copper and selenium if taken together, so make sure you consume enough of these minerals in foods or supplements.

How to take it


For general health: Get 1000 mg of vitamin C a day from foods and supplements. For the treatment of various diseases: Depending on the condition, 1000-6000 mg a day may be appropriate.

Guidelines for use

Large amounts are best absorbed in 1000 mg doses, taken with meals. The vitamin works very well when combined with other antioxidants, such as vitamin E.

Other sources

Citrus fruits and juices, broccoli, red capsicums, dark green vegetables, strawberries and kiwifruit are all good sources of vitamin C.


Be careful taking more than 1000 mg a day if you have kidney stones, kidney disease or haemochromatosis, a genetic tendency to store excess iron (vitamin C can enhance iron absorption).

Vitamin C can distort the accuracy of medical tests for diabetes, colon cancer and haemoglobin levels. Let your doctor know if you’re taking it.

Reminder: If you have a medical condition, talk to your health careprofessional before taking natural medicines. Preferably one associatedwith the Emed Site or who has experience in the use of naturalmedicine.