Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin. Unlike most mammals and other animals, humans do not have the ability to make enough of their own vitamin C. Therefore, we must obtain vitamin C through our diet. Vitamin C is a very safe vitamin, and if you take too much, you will get loose stools. You can do an "ascorbic flush" with buffered powdered vitamin C to determine your optimal dose. Also available is a liposomal or Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C which provides for much higher absorption by the intestinal tract. Highest doses of vitamin C can only be obtained by intravenous (IV) injection of vitamin C, which we offer in our office.
Purpose of Vitamin C in the body
Vitamin C is required for the synthesis of collagen, an important structural component of blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and bone. Vitamin C also plays an important role in the synthesis of the neurotransmitter, norepinephrine. Neurotransmitters are critical to brain function and are known to affect mood. In addition, vitamin C is required for the synthesis of carnitine, a small molecule that is essential for the transport of fat into cellular organelles called mitochondria, where the fat is converted to energy. Research also suggests that vitamin C is involved in the metabolism of cholesterol to bile acids, which may have implications for blood cholesterol levels and the incidence of gallstones.
Antioxidant properties of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is also a highly effective antioxidant. Even in small amounts vitamin C can protect indispensable molecules in the body, such as proteins, lipids (fats), carbohydrates, and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), from damage by free radicals and reactive oxygen species that can be generated during normal metabolism as well as through exposure to toxins and pollutants (e.g., cigarette smoke). Vitamin C may also be able to regenerate other antioxidants such as vitamin E. One recent study of cigarette smokers found that vitamin C regenerated vitamin E from its oxidized form.