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  • Writer's pictureKatie Bailey, MS, RD, LD, FNC

Vitamins for Gut Health - Is Vitamin C Helpful?

Updated: Apr 27

Video Transcript:

Hi everyone. Welcome back to our channel.

You probably know vitamin C as the go-to supplement for individuals who might be fighting a cold or just trying to boost their immune system.

But did you know that vitamin C also impacts our gut health?

This connection between our gut health and vitamin C is not as well known, but it's an important topic to discuss considering our gut health impacts our overall health.

So in today's video, I'm going to explain what vitamin C is, what the role is in the body, how it impacts our gut health, ways to incorporate it, as well as any precautions to be aware of when supplementing with it.

Hi, I'm Katie Bailey. I'm a registered dietician at Flusso Nutrients where we provide supplement education and professional quality supplement options for you to make the world of nutrition a little bit easier to navigate.

As always, be sure to check with your main nutrition literate healthcare provider before starting anything new. As we can't know your full medical history to provide a personalized recommendation for you.

So without further ado, let's jump into today's topic.

So what is vitamin C?

Well, vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid, and it's a water-soluble vitamin.

That means that it dissolves in water and is not stored in large amounts in the body, and because it's not stored in the body, consistent intake is essential.

Vitamin C health benefits

It's mostly recognized as the vitamin that contributes to our immune and skin health.

But as we'll discuss today, it's also beneficial for our digestive system.

It's a powerful antioxidant and that fights off free radicals that can cause oxidative stress and damage to our cells.

Now, vitamin C is required for the synthesis of collagen, which is a structural protein that is a major component of the connective tissues in the body as well as AIDS and wound healing.

It's also required for the synthesis of L-carnitine, which is a nutrient that is needed for our body to convert fat into energy as well as certain neurotransmitters like epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

It aids in the absorption of iron, in particular non-heme iron from plant sources, and it benefits the immune system by supporting various cellular functions of the immune system and helping with barrier protection.

Now that we know what role vitamin C plays in the body in general, let's specifically talk about how it impacts our gut health.

Vitamin C Leaky Gut | Vitamins for Gut Health

The first thing that it does is it helps to strengthen our gut lining, and that's because vitamin C is needed to synthesize collagen, like I mentioned, which is vital to the strength of our gut lining.

By strengthening and repairing the gut lining, we can help manage conditions like leaky gut and other digestive conditions. If you're not familiar with leaky gut, this is a condition where the intestinal lining becomes permeable or leaky and allows undigested food particles, harmful bacteria and toxins to enter the bloodstream, which leads to systemic inflammation and other health problems.

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The second way that vitamin C impacts our gut health is that it can improve and maintain microbial diversity in the gut.

So research suggests that vitamin C can help modulate the balance of bacteria in our gut promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria.

As we know, these beneficial bacteria help with digestion, nutrient absorption, and our immune function. When vitamin C is paired with probiotics, which is that beneficial bacteria, it's known to enhance each other's effects.

So vitamin C fosters a favorable environment for these probiotics to grow and thrive.

While the probiotics can help with the absorption of vitamin C, and some studies have shown that vitamin C may also inhibit the growth of h pylori, which is a bacteria that's linked to ulcer formation.

Vitamin C Antioxidant

Another way that vitamin C impacts our gut health is because it's a potent antioxidant.

So like I mentioned before, antioxidants help to fight off those free radicals, which is going to help decrease oxidative stress and inflammation in the gut.

Vitamin C IBS | Vitamin C UC | Vitamin C Bloating | Vitamin C Gas

And studies have shown that because of this decrease in inflammation, it can help improve symptoms like IBS, which is irritable bowel syndrome, or IBD inflammatory bowel disease.

Now just remember that this is going to vary from person to person depending on their individual situations.

Vitamin C for Immune System

Vitamin C also helps to improve our immune function.

Over 70% of our immune system resides in the gut, and we know that a well-functioning immune system is linked to good gut health. Vitamin C also stimulates the production of our white blood cells, which is part of the immune system that fights off pathogens.

Vitamin C Leaky Gut

And lastly, vitamin C may increase short chain fatty acid production.

There have been some studies that have found that an increase, there's been an increase in short chain fatty acid production with supplementation with vitamin C.

Short chain fatty acids like butyrate are produced by our gut bacteria and they help to strengthen the gut lining as well as decrease inflammation in the gut.

Vitamin C Precautions

Alright, so now that we know all the ways that vitamin C can benefit us, let's talk a little bit about some precautions to be aware of.

Vitamin C Diarrhea

So although vitamin C has a low risk for toxicity, it can have unpleasant side effects like diarrhea or cramping, gas and nausea if taken in large doses.

This is due to the decreased ability for the body to absorb excess Vitamin C.

In some studies even suggest that vitamin C acts as a laxative, particularly in high doses and can cause a side effect of diarrhea.

And this is because vitamin C helps to draw water into the intestines, which is going to soften that stool and speed up bowel movements.

Vitamin C Bloating

Generally moderate intake of vitamin C through foods and supplements don't cause adverse effects, whereas large doses can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort.

It's also recommended that if you have kidney disease or a history of kidney stones, gout and hemochromatosis, which is excess iron, that you speak with a medical provider before starting any vitamin C supplement.

Vitamin C Foods

Now let's talk a little bit about incorporating vitamin C into your diet.

So incorporating rich sources of vitamin C foods is essential.

Foods that are high and vitamin C include your citrus fruits like your lemons and oranges and grapefruit, as well as things like strawberries, kiwi, bell peppers, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

Vitamin C Supplements

If you're looking to add even more vitamin C to your diet, you can choose supplements and there are many different things to choose from.

When you're looking at supplements, you're going to see various forms in them.

Liposomal Vitamin C vs Vitamin C

Sometimes you'll see ascorbic acid or you'll see calcium or sodium ascorbate. You may also see the term liposomal vitamin C, which means that it's just encapsulated in liposomes, which are fat like particles that enhance the absorption of vitamin C in your cells.

Normal supplemental doses for vitamin C supplements usually range between 500 and a thousand milligrams, but depending on your situation, your needs may vary, you may need less, may need higher, and so I would highly recommend working with a professional who can help identify your specific needs based on your situation.

And like with any supplement, you want to start at a low dose and increase as tolerated and always consult with a medical professional before starting any new supplement as well.

Vitamin C Health Benefits - In Summary

To wrap up our topic for today, vitamin C holds a multitude of health benefits and can have a positive impact on our gut health.

Embracing a diet that's rich in vitamin C, supplementing when needed and combining with probiotics are all beneficial strategies, whether it's through Whole Foods or supplements or a combination of both.

Prioritizing vitamin C intake can help to improve our immune function as well as promote a healthy gut microbiome.

If you're interested in starting a vitamin C supplement, I will link a quality one here. If you like this video, please hit the like button and subscribe for more nutrition videos.

Let us know in the comments your experience with vitamin C and gut health, or if you have any questions about vitamin C.

In general. If you're interested in working with our clinic, you can click here to schedule an initial appointment.

We do take insurance and you can find more information about that on our website.

All right, thank you for watching.

I'll see you next time. Bye.

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