Vitamin C

People With Metabolic Syndrome May Need More Vitamin C

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Originally published on phlabs.org

 We are officially well into the new year, and many of us are on a mission to be more proactive about our health. If you are currently overweight or obese but are not sure if you have any additional health issues (diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.), I would highly suggest making a doctor’s appointment in order to determine whether you have metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is not a disease. In a nutshell, individuals with metabolic syndrome have a certain conditions that puts them at risk for health problems such as diabetesheart disease and stroke. Having these conditions may even put you at a greater risk of developing dementia and other cognitive issues. One source refers to individuals with metabolic syndrome as having the “perfect storm” for some serious health issues.

There are varying opinions in the medical field regarding what is considered proper diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, however, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that in order to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, you must have a minimum of three of the following metabolic risk factors:

  • Abdominal obesity or being “apple shaped.” Also called visceral fat, excess belly fat can wrap around your vital organs and increase your risk of developing diabetes and fatty liver disease.

  • High triglyceride levels (type of fat found in the blood).

  • Low HDL (good cholesterol) level.

  • High blood pressure (hypertension).

  • High fasting blood sugar. Moderately high blood sugar could be a sign of early diabetes.

Unfortunately, metabolic syndrome is pretty common in the United States. Reportedly, more than a third of American adults have metabolic syndrome. And many may be unaware that they even have this condition.

The good news is that by adopting the right lifestyle habits, like physical activity and eating healthily, we can prevent, control and, in some cases, even reverse metabolic syndrome.

It is also important to note that people with metabolic syndrome need to be especially aware of their nutrient levels. Sometimes they may need to take more than the recommended amounts of certain nutrients.

One recent study produced findings suggesting that those with metabolic syndrome may need more vitamin C to “break cycle of antioxidant depletion.”

Antioxidants “are man-made or natural substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage,” (NIH). Fruits and vegetables are very nutrient-dense and rich in antioxidants. Vitamins A, C and E are examples of antioxidants as well as minerals such as selenium and manganese.

(You can find antioxidants in supplement form, but it’s always best to get nutrients and antioxidants from the foods that you eat).

A report discussing the recent study findings says, “...the type of eating [consuming high-calorie, nutrient-void processed foods] that leads to metabolic syndrome can prompt imbalances in the gut microbiome, with impaired gut function contributing to toxins in the bloodstream, resulting in vitamin C depletion, which subsequently impairs the trafficking of vitamin E.”

"If you don't have the vitamin C, the vitamin E gets lost and then you lose both of those antioxidants and end up in this vicious cycle of depleting your antioxidant protection," said a professor of public health and human sciences, referenced in the report.

"People with metabolic syndrome can eat the same amount of vitamin C as people without metabolic syndrome but have lower plasma concentrations of vitamin C.”

In healthy individuals, the recommended daily amount of vitamin C is between 65 to 90 milligrams. A medium-sized orange has about 70 milligrams of vitamin C. But if you have metabolic syndrome, you may need much more vitamin C than 65 to 90 milligrams per day.

There is not an exact number of how much vitamin C a person with metabolic syndrome needs, but some reports say that a person can have as much as 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C without entering dangerous territory. Remember, having too much of a certain nutrient can be just as bad as having too little of a certain nutrient.

The best approach is to talk to your doctor about what your specific vitamin C needs are. Your doctor or a competent healthcare professional can administer a nutrient test, which will detect any nutrient deficiencies or imbalances. From there, this medical professional can help you make the necessary dietary changes and/or suggest relevant and quality supplements including  intravenous supplementation.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from all of this is that metabolic syndrome is preventable. So if you already have metabolic syndrome, don’t be discouraged. You can improve or maybe even reverse your condition if you really get on a good path of eating right, making sure you have enough nutrients and antioxidants and getting enough physical activity.

Enjoy your healthy life!

Not Up for Debate: Get Enough Vitamin C or Risk Aging Rapidly

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Originally published on phlabs.org

By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder

As a young adult, I knew vitamin C was good for my health. I associated it with citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons or products like Emergen-C. And I recall learning somewhere in my educational process that people who didn’t get enough vitamin C in their diets may get scurvy. For example, some sailors on long voyages in the 17th and 18th centuries died from scurvy when they ran out of fresh food supplies. But I never met anyone who had scurvy.  

Scurvy severely impacts the immune system. It may cause the gums to bleed easily and become infected. The teeth may become rotten and start to fall out. If not treated, scurvy can be fatal. But with the prevalence of citrus fruits today, I did not think that vitamin C deficiency or scurvy was something I needed to worry about.  

I was wrong.

It has been reported that more than 40% of American adults have an inadequate intake of vitamin C. And while the deficiency may not result in bleeding gums and missing teeth, it might be enough to wreak havoc on our immune systems and make us age faster.

Vitamin C protects the immune system from deficiencies that may lead to cardiovascular illnesses and other diseases. It is one of the most important nutrients needed for our survival. It is also an antioxidant, which means it protects our bodies from free radicals and other harmful molecules. It is a major producer of collagen, which is the main ingredient behind the repair of bone and skin tissue, cartilage, ligaments, tendons and teeth. Vitamin C also helps moisturize and nourish the skin, which may increase skin elasticity and may even restore a youthful appearance.

People who smoke are likely to be deficient in vitamin C. Smoking may cause oxidative stress, which may result in a decrease of vitamin C levels. Smoking is so dangerous that even secondhand smoke may decrease vitamin C levels. Because of this, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) suggests that smokers need an additional 35 mg of vitamin C per day than nonsmokers. They haven’t determined a specific amount for those who are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke.

Daily amounts of fruits and vegetables generally provide more than enough vitamin C. On the other hand, people who make a diet out of fast food and junk food or abuse alcohol and drugs increase their risk of vitamin C deficiency.  

The real victims of vitamin C deficiency generally reside in low-income and impoverished neighborhoods, where the environment may make them more prone to having an unhealthy diet. Of course, adding fruits and vegetables to their diet may be enough to offset deficiency.

People who suffer from malabsorption may also be deficient in vitamin C. Malabsorption is when the body is incapable of absorbing nutrients. The inability to absorb nutrients like vitamin C is usually caused by chronic health conditions like Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, cachexia and severe intestinal malabsorption.

Vitamin C cannot be naturally produced by the human body, making it a crucial dietary component. In order for us to maintain a healthy intake of vitamin C, we have to consume it.

Vitamin C can usually be found in a variety of fruits and vegetables such as oranges, watermelon, green and red peppers, grapefruit, tomatoes, spinach, papaya, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for men is around 90 milligrams (mg) per day. For women, it is about 75 mg. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should increase to 120 mg per day. To put these amounts in perspective, one cup of raw oranges is about 95 milligrams. To get an idea about which foods contain vitamin C and how much, visit the National Nutrient Database. It is a great source of information.

But be careful! While it’s not a common occurrence, it is possible to take too much vitamin C. It’s not likely that a ton of vitamin C will be harmful, but there are negative side effects to look out for. When taking doses above 400 mg, the extra vitamin C is excreted in the urine. However, if you consume more than 2,000 mg, you may experience negative side effects such as abdominal pain, diarrhea and nausea, heartburn, insomnia and even the rare case of kidney stones.

It’s never too late to get tested for vitamin C deficiency! The sooner you learn about your vitamin C levels, the sooner you can get back to living a healthier life.

Enjoy your healthy life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.