(NaturalNews) Vitamin C is perhaps best known for its ability to strengthen the immune system. But this potent nutrient also has many other important roles that control significant aspects of our health.
When we get enough in our diets, vitamin C helps detoxify our bodies, promotes healing of all of our cells, and allows us to better deal with stress. It also supports the good bacteria in our gut, destroys detrimental bacteria and viruses, neutralizes harmful free radicals, removes heavy metals, protects us from pollution, and much more.
Unfortunately, most Americans are not getting anywhere near enough of this vitamin to experience these health benefits. That's especially true for our children.
One reason why we fall so short is that our diet simply does not consist of nearly enough raw fruits and vegetables. Another reason is that the RDA of 90 mg for vitamin C is set much too low, which is the same problem we see with vitamin D. Such a low RDA leads people into a false sense of security that they are meeting their daily requirements. It also makes them wary of taking the much higher dosages that are required for good health.
So the question becomes just how much vitamin C does a human need? A good starting point is to look at animals that are able to synthesize their own vitamin C.
All animals except humans, primates, guinea pigs, and a handful of other species are able to make their own vitamin C. We know that the vast majority of animals make approximately 30 mg per kg of body weight. That works out to be about 2 grams of vitamin C for a 150 pound person. We also know that when animals are under stress, injured, or sick, they can make up to ten times more vitamin C than their normal daily requirements.
Since humans are unable to make vitamin C, we must get it from our diets. When the differences in body weights are equalized, primates and guinea pigs consume 20 to 80 times the RDA suggested amount. The great apes, our closest living relatives, require anywhere from 2-6 grams (2,000 - 6,000 mg) of Vitamin C per day under normal healthy conditions.
How much we humans need can be a bit more complicated, as it depends on many variables such as diet, age, stress level, amount of exposure to pollutants, amount of medications we take, and overall health. A generic amount is around 1-4 grams per day for a healthy individual. People with serious illnesses will need much, much more.
Excellent food sources of this potent nutrient include rose hips, acerola cherries, and camu camu fruit. More common produce such as chili peppers, red peppers, parsley, kiwifruit, and broccoli are also good sources. It is important to note that most of the vitamin C in foods will be destroyed with cutting, cooking, storing, and other forms of processing.
As far as supplements are concerned, natural vitamin C complexes are much more potent than the common and less expensive ascorbate forms. However, someone that needs a lot of vitamin C will find that the natural complexes can be cost prohibitive. Mineral ascorbates and ascorbic acid are acceptable forms to take for reaping all of vitamin C's many health benefits. Just be sure to look for vitamin C supplements that are non-GMO, as the vast majority of these supplements come from GMO corn.
Melissa Makris is a researcher with a technical background in immunology. She is passionate about holistic and alternative methods of healing. Her website How to Boost Your Immune System shares information on how to improve immune system health using simple, natural methods.