Tag Archives: heart health

Vitamin C – More than you care to know about it!

Recently, a patient asked me about a specific vitamin C product, basically whether it was worth paying a premium for.

In order to offer them the most accurate answer I could, I decided to confirm a few facts before replying, and ended up going down bit of a rabbit hole.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a an often over-looked (probably owing to it’s ubiquitous nature), but very valuable nutrient, protecting against heart disease and cancer; and supporting immune system activity and eye health, but where we use it most is in recovery from tissue healing (e.g., disc injury, sports injuries, etc.).

How much vitamin C should I take daily?

At this writing, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is 60 mg daily, an amount that can be consumed by eating a single orange.

That said, experts disagree that this an optimal daily intake. Most vitamin C supplements offer 1000 mg per dose, and in the recent past, recommendations of 5000 or 6000 mg daily were not unusual.

For optimal vitamin C levels, research demonstrates that complete plasma (“blood”) saturation (i.e., the blood is as full as it can be) of vitamin C occurs at doses of 1000 mg daily.

White blood cells (i.e., cells of the immune system) were vitamin C saturated at even lower doses of 100 mg daily.

Should I take my vitamin C all at once?

No. Much of the vitamin C taken in a 1000 mg  capsule will be excreted in the urine.

At doses of 100 mg, no vitamin C is excreted in the urine (i.e., your body “keeps”, and presumably uses, it all).

At doses of 500 mg, bioavailability (i.e., the amount that enters the blood)  begins to decline.

This suggests, in order to not “waste” your vitamin C supplement, you should separate your intake into doses of less than 500 mg.

Importantly, slow-release vitamin C, which theoretically would allow for more complete absorption of higher doses of vitamin C, resulted in 50% lower absorption of 1000 mg of vitamin C in at least one study.

Ultimately, after at least one month of supplementation, users of both slow-release and regular vitamin C had equal blood vitamin C levels, but clearly, added cost for “slow-releasing” is not warranted.

How about “buffered” vitamin C?

Persons finding they experience digestive upset when using vitamin C are often directed to use “buffered” vitamin C products – mineral salts of ascorbic acid (e.g., calcium ascorbate), which are less acidic, and therefore thought to be less” irritating”.

There is little scientific support for this assertion.

Importantly, at the 1000 mg discussed above, the common digestive side effect of diarrhea, which may be mistakenly attributed to the acidic nature of vitamin C, is unlikely to occur.

How about vitamin C products combining bioflavenoids?

Bioflavenoids are plant chemicals that act as antioxidants, and are reputed to improve absorption of vitamin C.

Although they do add value to a product that is used for the purpose of antioxidant action, the research does not support that the vitamin C absorption of that product will be increased.

Sum it up, Egghead!

Vitamin C, take:

  • 1000 mg daily
  • In doses of approximately 400 mg (although practically, 500 mg is likely the closest dose you will be able to source)
  • Theoretically, having vitamin C with food may increase bioavailability (decrease “waste”)
  • Slow-release capsules, and bioflavenoids-added formulas do not improve vitamin C absorption


Zelman KM. Benefits of vitamin C [Internet]. WebMD. [cited 2018 Sep 14]. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/the-benefits-of-vitamin-c#1.

Vitamin C [Internet]. Government of Canada. [cited 2018 Sep 14]. Available at: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/nutrients/vitamin-c.html.

Oranges, raw, Florida, nutrition facts and calories [Internet]. SelfNutritionData. [cited 2018 Sep 14]. Available at: https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1969/2.

Levine M, Conrey-Cantilena C, Yank Y, Welch RW, Washko PW, Dhariwal KR et al. Vitamin C pharmacokinetics in healthy volunteers: evidence for a recommended dietary allowance. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA [Internet]. 1996 Apr 16 [cited 2018 Sep 14];93(8):3704–3709. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC39676/.

Oregon State University. Linus Pauling Institute [Internet]. Supplemental forms. [cited 2018 Sep 14]. Available at: https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-C/supplemental-forms.

– Jonah Lusis, ND


Posted: 2018 Sep 14

The Best Things You Can Do for Heart Health

February is Heart Health Month, and in support of that, a short reminder of three things you likely already know you should be doing to keep your heart healthy.

In this week’s blog post, we ask Jonah Lusis, ND what are the best things we can do for heart health. Check out our Wellness Wednesday video for his number one recommendation, and read on for the other two!

Eat a vegetable-based diet

A vegetable based diet is great for your heart because helps to reduce inflammation which is the main danger when it comes to heart attack and stroke.

Also, it can help you lose weight (if you need to), which is absolutely key for taking strain off your heart. Although exercise helps with weight loss, there is an expression in medicine that goes “Weight is lost in the kitchen” – it is very hard to exercise away extra calories.

What I mean by a vegetable based diet, is to ensure that at least half the food you eat at each meal is fruit or vegetable (excluding potatoes). Sticking to this simple model consistently is enough to help most people reduce their weight to within a few pounds of an ideal wight for them, and will promote heart health.

Exercise your heart

While both resistance (e.g., weight training) and aerobic (e.g., walking, swimming, cross-country skiing) exercise are important aspects of health, because it’s Heart Health Month, we’ll devote our attention to aerobic exercise, which is the type of exercise that strengthens your heart.

You are “exercising” your heart when you are causing it to work at between 60-90% of its maximum capacity.

The easiest way to assess this is to pay attention to the way you’re breathing. You should be exercising hard enough that you need to breathe using your mouth to feel comfortable. If you can breathe comfortably using only your nose, exercise harder. Mouth-breathing correlates to approximately 60% of maximal heart rate.

Fish oil

Be sure to check the label when choosing a fish oil supplement. You want to choose a fish oil with a higher EPA than DHA content, that has been checked for purity by a third party and that is in “triglyceride” form.

Happy Heart Health Month from all of us at TCNM!


Posted: 2015 February 19