We all know something about vitamin C. It’s an essential nutrient our bodies need. It’s found in oranges and other citrus fruits. It can treat the common cold and make you look younger! Or can it?
Read on as we bust five popular myths about vitamin C.
Myth #1: Vitamin C can cure or prevent the common cold and flu.
When flu season hits, do you drink a packet of vitamin C powder a day? If you feel a cold coming on, do you start popping vitamin C tablets? Many of us turn to vitamin C foods, drinks, and supplements when sick or to avoid getting sick. While vitamin C is good for your health and can help give your immune system a little boost, it isn’t a remedy for the common cold and flu or a preventive measure for getting sick.
This belief stems from an American chemist and Nobel Prize Winner named Linus Pauling. In the 1960s, Pauling claimed that after taking high doses of vitamin C, he felt healthier and no longer experienced any cold systems. His claims of megadosing vitamin C to prevent the common cold and flu led to a skyrocket of vitamin C product sales in the next decade and to many of us still thinking vitamin C can cure a common cold. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for helping keep our bodies healthy, but many scientists today agree and studies have proven that you can’t effectively treat a cold or the flu with vitamin C. They recommend that if you want the benefits of vitamin C, you should consume it daily.
Myth #2: You can’t consume too much vitamin C.
Is too much vitamin C bad? Can you overdose on vitamin C? Yes, it can be, and yes, you can.
Because vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, some people think that if you consume too much of this vitamin, it will simply exit your body in the restroom. But, megadoses (consuming more than 2,000 mg a day) may cause you to experience mild or severe side effects, such as bloating, cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other undesirable gastrointestinal problems.
There is also the possibility that regularly consuming too much vitamin C can disrupt cell signaling, from your brain to the rest of your body, because it’s such a potent antioxidant.
If you’ve consumed more than 2,000 mg in a day, you might want to contact your doctor, the emergency room, or poison control if you are experiencing any severe symptoms.
Myth #3: Vitamin C isn’t safe when pregnant.
There is a lot you’re told not to do when pregnant. Don’t lounge in a steamy hot tub. Don’t ride jarring roller coasters. Don’t eat any seafood with high levels of mercury. Don’t eat cold deli meat. Don’t drink alcohol.
So can you take vitamin C while pregnant? Yes. You need to consume the right nutrients while pregnant, vitamin C included, but you have to be careful how much you consume. The recommended daily intake of vitamin C for pregnant women is 85 mg.
If you’re taking a prenatal vitamin with vitamin C and consuming foods and drinks with vitamin C, you’re probably getting enough vitamin C. What isn’t safe during pregnancy is taking megadoses of vitamin C, like taking a vitamin C dietary supplement along with what you’re already consuming.
Myth #4: Oranges are the best source of vitamin C.
Contrary to what you may have been told when you were younger, oranges are not the best or highest sources of vitamin C.
One large orange packs 97.5 mg of vitamin C—a good amount— but one cup of raw guava, sweet red pepper, or sweet green pepper packs more, offering 377 mg, 190 mg, and 120 mg, respectively.
Other good sources of vitamin C include hot green chili peppers, tomato juice, strawberries, papayas, pink grapefruit juice, pineapple, and potatoes. You can also get your recommended daily value of vitamin C (or more!) by eating dark green leafy vegetables, like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale.
Should you take a vitamin C supplement? Some people do. But if you’re consuming enough in your regular diet, you don’t need to. Plus, it’s better to get vitamin C from foods because you’ll be eating other nutrients needed for general health.
Myth #5: You only need to ingest vitamin C.
Vitamin C isn’t just essential for your health, it’s essential for your skin, too! That is, if you want to have firm, glowing, more youthful-looking skin. Vitamin C is vital to anti-aging and healthy skin.
This antioxidant has the power to protect, repair, and revitalize your skin. So if you’ve ever wondered if vitamin C is good for acne or does vitamin C serum work? The answers are a resounding yes! Vitamin C protects your skin from free radicals, evens skin tone, and fights dry skin and inflammation. It also boosts the production of collagen, a key protein that helps increase skin elasticity, thus reducing wrinkles and firming skin. Who wouldn’t want all those skin benefits? That’s why you should not only consume vitamin C every day but also apply a topical vitamin C serum to your face and neck every single day.