What is Vitamin C Good For?

scurvyEvery body tells you that you must get your vitamin C and that vitamin C is good for you, ( true) so today we are going to ask why exactly should we take our vitamin C and what exactly is it good for?

The first use of vitamin C was to protect people from the fatal disease of scurvy.

The little girl in the photo is showing signs of scurvy – it is much more common than we realise.

Although the disease was common amongst sailors in the Royal Navy in the 18th and 19th Century and amongst soldiers and explorers –  it was found and is found in anyone living on a limited diet dominated by dried and preserved foods and a lack of fresh fruit and vegetables.

The Royal Navy found it's cure when Dr. James Lind suggested adding Limes to their diet leading to the use of the slang word of "limey" for Brits.

Many other foods could have been chosen because vitamin C is spread very widely throughout foods so we do not need to eat limes or oranges to get our daily dose.

So apart from curing scurvy what else can Vitamin C do?


Let's start with the Common cold.


It is a good place to start because we all have experience with it and being a viral and not a bacterial infection – anti-biotics cannot cure it.

Sadly many Doctors will prescribe anti-biotics in circumstances like this where they do not and cannot work. This is unfortunate and simultaneously reduces the efficacy of anti-biotics in serious cases by raising anti-biotic resistance amongst bacteria and reduces anti-biotics to a placebo treatment.

Taking vitamin C daily at a useful dose both reduces the severity of symptoms experienced and reduces the chance of "catching a cold".

Mentioning dosage here is important because research has been done that failed to show that vitamin C is effective. This research got a lot of publicity but what did not feature in the publicity was the miserably small dose of vitamin C that was used in the study.

Tiny doses of vitamin C such as 30 mg, that is 30 thousanths of a gram will not give your immune system much of a boost but a gram or 2 or 3 will.

Dr. Linus Pauling was the Nobel Prize winning scientist who did the pioneering research on Vitamin C and he took daily doses that ranged up to 18 grams a day. Many Doctors treating seriously ill patients have used intravenous drips to administer 100 grams a day or even more.

A good average dose nowadays may be between 1 gram and 3 grams a day.

A realistic dose like this will give you considerable protection against colds and other viruses too and a tiny dose of a few milligrams will not and neither will a drink of orange or even lime juice.

Such small amounts of vitamin C will protect you from scurvy but not from colds or other viral infections!

But I do need to talk a little bit more about scurvy now – and this is important so do not skip this bit…

Learning about this can improve your skin and hair and nails too – for the rest of your life…would you like that?

OK then first I want you to quickly read these quotes…

an estimated 10,000 people died of scurvy during the California Gold Rush            

Source – http://faculty.washington.edu/andchien/PDFs/HuBio/scurvy.pdf


During the 18th century, scurvy killed more British sailors than enemy action

During the Seven Years' War, the Royal Navy reported that it conscripted 184,899 sailors, of whom 133,708 died of disease or were "missing", and scurvy was the principal disease

Source – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scurvy#Symptoms

The Symptoms


The symptoms that you suffer with scurvy start with fatigue and unease and proceed through loose teeth and bleeding of the gums and small haemorrhages under the skin.


  • the eyes bulge and small bleeds occur within the eye.
  • Old wounds break open and new wounds do not heal.
  • bleeding occurs into the joints
  • Blood vessels and even the heart begin to bleed.

 Enough – I think I have horrified you already! So here is why this is important to us…

What is happening here is that the structure of the body is weakening and falling apart due to a very low intake of vitamin C..

Eyes, teeth and gums, skin, blood vessels, joints and skin.

All massively weakened and damaged without enough vitamin C.

And this is because a major role of vitamin C is to strengthen collagen.

Collagen is a protein structure that goes through muscles, blood vessels and bones like the steel rods go through concrete and make it powerful enough to hold a gigantic skyscraper together.

So Vitamin C makes strong collagen and that makes your skin and bones and nails and hair strong too.

Which is a super reason to take a gram or 2 of vitamin C per day. We all want strong bones and muscles and ligaments and supplementing with Vitamin C in the ascorbic acid form or a buffered form does that. it will also improve the quality of your skin and hair and nails – all because it strengthens collagen and other structural proteins.


In a Nutshell…


Scurvy broke out during the American Civil War as it did in many other wars when the food supply was interrupted;it was found in sailors and soldiers and all those on a diet devoid of enough vitamin C

Famous Arctic expeditions by Scott failed due to his ignorance of this life saving vitamin…

We humans are almost unique in that we cannot make our own vitamin C and have to find it in our food.

So the Health Authorities of all countries will set a minimum dose and this will protect against scurvy but it is not and does not pretend to be the right dose for you to be in good health and have high quality skin and hair or to have a well functioning immune system.

Nutritionists and Naturopaths routinely advise a minimum intake of one gram of vitamin C daily for adults in good health. And if suffering from an infection we will often double our daily dose.

So I take about 4 grams a day and have done for many years. The correct dose for you depends on all kinds of factors best worked out in a personal consultation with a nutritionally qualified professional.

There's a lot more health benefits for you and your family and friends from vitamin C and I'll be publishing them right here very soon so do share this article with them.

And let me know in the comments below any questions you have or experience…

AuthorAlex Newell ND

I love learning and being healthy so as soon as I came across Yoga, read and practised to get the health benefits. When I was approaching middle age my health declined under the onslaught o stress and possibly poor diet, I had a perfect opportunity to learn more and I qualified in both Osteopathy and Naturopathy. Our health really is in our own hands and not in the hands of "The Doctor" or our Genes :-)

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