It’s pretty rare to be vitamin C deficient these days, but if you’re an average American, you need more vitamin C than you’re getting. This is because vitamin C is an essential nutrient and your body doesn’t produce it on its own.
If you’re a woman, you need at least 75mg of vitamin C every day, and men need at least 90mg of vitamin C daily. That said, studies show that higher doses of vitamin C (between 500mg - 100mg vitamin C) can be even better for you.
So where do you get vitamin C? Mostly from fruits and vegetables. Here are some that pack a powerful vitamin C punch:
- Bell Peppers
If you aren’t loading up on the list above, that’s okay too - there are a lot of high-quality vitamin C supplements out there and in this article, we’ll tell you just what to look for.
Why You Need Vitamin C
You can learn all about the benefits of vitamin C here, but here’s the TLDR version: vitamin C is super important for the growth and repair of tissues in your body because it helps you produce collagen. It helps wounds heal effectively, and essential for your immune system and overall health.
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How To Tell If You’re Low On Vitamin C
You probably learned about scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) in history class, and these days, it’s pretty rare. But studies show that a lot of people still have low levels of vitamin C - which isn’t optimal for your health, even if it’s just moderately low. That said your body wants you to feel your best, and it’s likely going let you know if you’re low on any essential nutrients. Here are some symptoms to watch out for.
1. Your Hair Is Dry And Breaking
Your hair can tell you a lot about your overall health. If it’s shiny and healthy, you’re probably rocking a balanced diet. But if you notice that the ends of your hair are splitting, and it feels courser than usual - you could be low in vitamin C. This is because your hair relies on collagen to look and feel good and vitamin C plays a huge role in collagen production in your body. Collagen production slows down as you age, but you can support it with a daily vitamin C ritual.
If you notice that your scalp is red - that’s a sign of severe vitamin C deficiency too. This usually happens in super severe cases, but it can be resolved in a few weeks.
2. Your Skin Is Bumpy Or Dry
Skin that is glowing and healthy is filled with vitamin C - especially on the outer layer. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) can protect your skin from oxidative stress from the sun or the environment and it’s also working behind the scenes to help your body pump out collagen.
Studies have associated higher levels of vitamin C in the body with healthier-looking skin and lower levels with skin that is more dry and damaged. Also, if you’re dealing with “chicken skin” or keratosis, your vitamin C levels could be to blame.
3. You’re Gaining Weight
When you suffer from low vitamin C, you might feel a little extra tired or fatigued. Lower energy means that your metabolism is probably under duress as well. And when your metabolism slows down, the weight can come on. Vitamin C can help kick it back into gear.
4. It Takes A While To Heal From Wounds
If you notice it takes longer than it should for a scrape to heal, that’s a sign that you could be dealing with vitamin C deficiency - it all comes back to the aforementioned collagen. If you don’t get enough vitamin C, your collagen production may slow down, which leads to slower healing.
5. You Have Iron Deficiency (Anemia)
Low levels of vitamin C in the body and iron deficiency anemia go hand in hand. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron more effectively, so getting enough of this nutrient is a good way to make sure you’re actually absorbing the iron from the foods you’re eating.
If you have anemia and can’t figure out what’s causing it, talk to your doctor about vitamin C deficiency.
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6. You Bruise Easily
Our skin bruises when the tiny blood vessels under the surface of our skin burst and if you find you’re getting bruises all the time and don’t know why it could be another sign that you’re low on vitamin C. The walls of your blood vessels are made up of - you guessed it - collagen and when you’re low on vitamin C, they could be weakened. Vitamin C can help this by boosting your collagen production and giving those blood vessels some added support.
7. Your Gums Are Bleeding
Because your gums are comprised of collagen if they’re feeling unexpectedly sensitive, it can be a sign that your vitamin C levels are lower than they should be. If you notice they’re bleeding more than usual - when you’re flossing or brushing (or throughout the day) - that’s a sign too. If you don’t have enough vitamin C in your system, your gum tissue becomes weak and it takes longer for them to heal - so they bleed more easily, more often.
8. You’re Abnormally Moody or Tired
In a bad mood or feeling low on energy? These are two early signs of vitamin C deficiency. In fact, these symptoms can show up when your levels dip just a little. This is because vitamin C plays a critical role in how your body produces energy and keeps your mood in check. Studies show that just eating foods high in vitamin C can give you an energy boost, alleviate depression, and help with overall mind-body balance.
The great thing about vitamin C is that if you start taking high doses when you experience these symptoms, you can feel better in as little as 24 hours.
9. You get Sick A Lot
Research shows that vitamin C builds up in your immune cells and helps them fight infections and blast diseases. If you’re low on vitamin C, your immune system could be suffering and putting you at greater risk of infections.
An added bonus of vitamin C is that while it might not stop you from getting a common cold, there is evidence that shows that it can help you fight off bugs better and recover more quickly.
Do Vitamin C Supplements Actually Work?
We’ve covered the benefits of vitamin C, where to get it in the foods you eat, and also what can happen if you don’t get enough of it - but what is the best way to supplement it if you want to get a big dose and don’t want to eat ten oranges a day?
This is where liposomal vitamin C can help. You might be “liposomes” trending on your social feed, but it’s far from a trend. Liposomal supplements have been around for more than a decade and in the last few years, supplement companies are catching on. The reason? Liposomes help your body absorb nutrients better.
Wait … What Are Liposomes?
So what are liposomes? Basically, they’re little envelopes of fat that create armor around nutrients like ascorbic acid (vitamin C) protecting them from acids in your stomach, and protecting your stomach from their side effects. Because your stomach doesn’t break down liposomes the way it does other oral vitamins, your body can absorb them much more efficiently. And we’re not talking a little bit better, we’re talking A LOT better.
You typically absorb 10-20% of any oral supplement you take - and what happens to the rest? You pee it out. But with liposomes, it’s closer to 95%, because the nutrients are surrounded by a shield of healthy fat.
And science backs this up. In two studies in the last five years, researchers found that liposomal vitamin C has way higher levels of bioavailability (absorption) than other oral supplements.
The Bottom Line
Scurvy might not be common these days, but low levels of vitamin C is probably more common than you might think. Your body might be letting you know you need to boost your vitamin C intake in a variety of ways, and regardless of your symptoms, it’s not such a bad idea to get a high dose to support your overall health.