Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in maintaining good health. It is required for the proper functioning of cells, and is particularly important for the production of collagen, which is needed for the maintenance of healthy skin, bones, and blood vessels. Also vitamin C has been shown to have antioxidant properties and is believed to play a role in preventing age-related degeneration and supporting the management of certain disease states. (1,2)
While the importance of vitamin C is well known, less is understood about how the body regulates its levels. This process, known as homeostasis, is crucial for ensuring that the body maintains optimal levels of vitamin C to support good health. (3) Imbalances in vitamin C levels can have negative implications for health. Understanding how homeostasis works can help individuals make more informed decisions about taking vitamin C supplements. (3)
An Example, Vitamin C and the Ageing Brain
Vitamin C is important for keeping our brain healthy. A study by researchers at the University of Genoa included some exciting findings about vitamin C and brain health:
- vitamin C encourages the production of antioxidants
- the presence of vitamin C reduces inflammation
- supplementing vitamin C can have positive effects on brain health
- it defends the brain vitamin C is recycled
Dose and Circumstance
It is important to maintain the right balance of vitamin C in the body, too much or too little can have negative effects on brain health. Research has found that vitamin C has neuroprotective effects, but these effects are not definitive in treating acute neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. The effects of vitamin C can be nuanced and depend on maintaining balance in the body. (6) High levels of vitamin C can encourage oxidation when iron is present and lead to lipid peroxidation, which has an inverse relationship with the neuroprotective effects.
The peroxidation mentioned earlier can also be the basis for vitamin C’s potential in treating certain types of cancer. (9) However, it’s important to keep in mind that high doses of vitamin C may not always have the desired outcome and could potentially have a negative effect on treatment depending on the individual’s health condition and metabolic processes at the time. It’s a reminder that the effects of vitamin C can depend on the dose and circumstances.
Back to Balance
As previously stated, healthy levels of vitamin C are necessary for normal metabolic processes. (10) When the balance is disrupted there can be consequences. For example, smokers generally have lower levels of vitamin C and in a well-known study, the Alzheimer’s sample group of smokers showed the most benefit from vitamin C supplementation. However, it cannot be concluded that vitamin C supplementation can prevent or cure neurodegenerative conditions, but it can be inferred that if an individual’s vitamin C levels are below normal, bringing them up to a healthy level may be beneficial.
In summary, vitamin C has complex effects on the body. When levels of vitamin C deviate from a normal diet, there may be consequences. Therefore, when considering therapies that change the body’s vitamin C levels, it’s important to be aware of the potential implications.
(1) NIH Fact Sheet For Consumers 2021
(2) Vitamin C in Disease Prevention and Cure: An Overview, Shailja 2013
(3) Vitamin C, Ageing and Alzheimer’s Disease, Fiammetta 2017
(6) On The Physiological and Cellular Homeostasis of Ascorbate, Magdalena 2020
(9) Losing and finding a way at C: New promise for pharmacologic ascorbate in cancer treatment, Levine 2009
(10) Factors Affecting Vitamin C Status and Prevalence of Deficiency: A Global Health Perspective, Carr 2020
Looking for Vitamin C?
None of this is health advice and we strongly recommend following the guidance of a health professional. If you are looking for vitamin C we have it for sale in our store, currently in 2ml ampoules. We are also expecting to begin offering a 30ml vial in March 2023 – stay tuned!