Facts about Vitamin C
Adrenal Fatigue

The Critical Role of Vitamin C in Adrenal Function

We all know that vitamin C is an important part of a healthy immune system, but its critical role in adrenal function is no less valuable, and far less well known.

Interesting Facts about Vitamin C and Adrenal Function

  • The highest concentration of vitamin C in the body is stored in the adrenal glands.

  • Vitamin C is utilized by the adrenal glands in the production of all of the adrenal hormones, most notably cortisol. When you are faced with a stressful situation, your vitamin C is rapidly used up in the production of cortisol and related stress-response hormones.

  • In adrenal fatigue, your adrenal glands "panic" when they don't have enough vitamin C available, and, in what seems like an odd paradox, they release MORE cortisol. This not only increases your immediate anxiety, but as this state of high cortisol is prolonged, it wreaks havoc on your blood sugar, blood pressure, and contributes to the dreaded accumulation of belly fat.

Vitamin C and Your Immune System

  • Not only are you unable to cope with stress when you don't get enough vitamin C, you are also weakening your immune system, and you become more vulnerable to illness, which then adds more stress demands to your adrenals.

  • Vitamin C stimulates the production of white blood cells (the infection fighters) as well as stimulating production of interferon and virus antibodies. It also stimulates production of liver detoxifying enzymes that help eliminate toxic waste products from your body, including environmental chemicals you may have been exposed to.

Additional Facts About Vitamin C

In addition to its role in hormone production and immune response, Vitamin C also has many other important roles in your body.

  • An antioxidant, vitamin C helps prevent "oxidative stress", which is damage to the DNA in your cells that can leave you vulnerable to many serious degenerative diseases, including cancer. Speaking of cancer, there are several studies that suggest that vitamin C reduces your risk of certain non-hormonal cancers, sometimes by half compared to patients with low vitamin C intake.

  • Cataracts and macular degeneration are also conditions that are a result of oxidative stress, and increased vitamin C can help prevent these and other "signs of aging".

  • Vitamin C is used by your body in the formation of collagen, the elastic tissue that keeps your skin looking young, and keeps your blood vessels strong. If you find you bruise easily or frequently, this could be a sign you need more vitamin C.

  • Vitamin C plays a role in reducing plaque buildup in your arteries and helps reduce cholesterol levels in your blood.

  • It is also important in helping your body absorb important trace minerals such as iron and zinc, so you should make sure to have some vitamin C along with your iron or zinc-rich foods and/or supplements.

  • Vitamin C is sensitive to both light and heat, so don't count on getting much from drinking orange juice. Processed juices in clear containers that have been pasteurized (heated) may not have much vitamin C left by the time they make it home from the grocery store, and orange juice is particularly hard on your adrenals because it has such a rapid and extreme effect on your blood sugar levels. 

How Much Vitamin C Do I Need?

Vitamin C is water-soluble, so it is quickly processed and eliminated from your body. It is important to take your vitamin C in smaller (500-1,000mg) doses evenly spaced throughout the day as opposed to one mega-dose. 

There are few dangers in taking vitamin C, however you should be aware that if you are taking a therapeutic dose during an illness, it is important to decrease your intake gradually, so your body doesn't develop withdrawl symptoms that mimic scurvy (vitamin C deficiency). This is especially important if you are pregnant or nursing, as your baby will have become accustomed to the higher levels of vitamin C as well.

The best way to determine how much vitamin C your body needs is by monitoring your bowel movements. When your stools become loose and watery (diarrhea-like), you have reached what is called bowel tolerance, and you can drop your dosage down by 500-1000mg. This diarrhea is temporary and should resolve itself with a reduction in intake, so don't be alarmed.

Expect to take anywhere from 2,000mg-5,000mg in a day if you are dealing with adrenal fatigue, and possibly more if you are particularly stressed or feeling under the weather.

Common Symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiency

While actual scurvy is rare in modern countries with well-rounded diets, milder symptoms of vitamin C deficiency include gums that bleed when you brush your teeth, tooth loss, easy bruising of the skin, poor wound healing, and frequent colds or respiratory infections.

Alcohol, The Pill, smoking, antidepressants and OTC painkillers all dramatically reduce the level of Vitamin C in your body. Smokers may need to take 25-50% more vitamin C than non-smokers to maintain the same levels in the body.

What Form of Vitamin C Should I Take?

A great Vitamin C option for taking higher doses is Powdered Sodium Ascorbate. This is my favorite when I feel a sore throat coming on, because I feel relief almost immediately after swallowing it--there is just something about that topical application! 1/4 tsp. in a glass of water or juice, or mixed into a spoonful of applesauce or other food makes taking this effortless, and is also great for giving to kids who will never know it's in there!

Powdered Sodium Ascorbate is buffered, so it is not as acidic as ascorbic acid, and is not likely to cause stomach upset. Also, it's a lot easier to swallow than a handful of pills when you want a larger dose. Most vitamin C tablets come in 500mg or 1,000mg potencies, and if you are sick and want to take 5,000-10,000mg per day, that's a lot of tablets to choke down. 

Lypo-spheric vitamin C is another option for people who don't like the larger tablets that vitamin C traditionally comes in, and also is reported to alleviate the loose stool issue and stomach upset that can be common with higher doses of vitamin C.  By encapsulating the vitamin C in phospholipids, the vitamin C passes directly into your bloodstream without being damaged by the digestive system. Because of this, your body should be utilizing more of what you take in, and you should ultimately not need to take as much as you would of another form to get the same results.   Unlike a tablet or capsule, lypospheric vitamin C is a--well, for lack of a better word, goo--that you squeeze into a small glass of water or juice, and swallow.  It does not dissolve or mix into whatever liquid you put it in, it stays in soft globs that you just swallow in the course of drinking. You don't taste anything besides the carrier liquid as long as you don't hold any of it in your mouth and deliberately try to rub it around on your tongue. Just drink your liquid and let the goo slide down the hatch!

I like to take vitamin C from several different sources throughout the day, including a multivitamin, an ACES+Zinc combo, and then adding any additional vitamin C as needed. This allows me to take the daily maintenance amount with my regular vitamin regimen, and boost my Vitamin C intake by itself when I feel like I'm coming down with something, or when I'm anticipating more stress in my life than usual.

I also LOVE to use a powdered vitamin C drink like Emergen-C on a daily basis during the winter, just to help keep the bugs at bay.

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