Vitamin C, one of the most important antioxidants and immune system boosters, is also able to reduce stress. Both mental and physical signs of stress become less noticeable when ascorbic acid is administered. Even though vitamin C pills are available, it is best to focus on fruits as the main sources.
Mechanism Used for Fighting Stress
When the body is exposed to stress, ascorbic acid is used by the tissues more rapidly. The same thing happens when smoking or when consuming alcoholic drinks. Supplementation with vitamin C will stimulate thyroid hormone secretion, and will improve the way folic acid, tyrosine and tryptophan are metabolized. But more importantly, ascorbic acid improves adrenal function, so epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) are secreted. These are stress hormones, so they are released mainly when the body is exposed to stressful conditions.
Cortisol represents a stress hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands. Once it enters the bloodstream, it transmits signals to all the parts of the body. High blood cortisol levels and high blood pressure indicate that the body is exposed to stress. Studies revealed that these indicators are much smaller in people taking vitamin C than in the ones who do not use supplementation. A daily dose of 1 gram is sufficient for keeping blood pressure normal and for stopping cortisol secretion.
High levels of stress hormones lead to physical exhaustion, memory and learning impairment, and even depression. Vitamin C is able to decrease the levels of stress hormones by up to 3 times.
Recommended Daily Intake of Vitamin C
The recommended daily allowance for ascorbic acid is of 75 mg, but this represents the minimum amount required for treating scurvy or vitamin C deficiency.
When under stress, you should consume at least 4 grams. In the past, there were rumors about the diseases that could be caused by daily doses higher than 500 mg. They included cancer and DNA mutations, but the final conclusion was that the trials that leaded to such affirmations were flawed.
Ascorbic acid gets dissolved in water, so the body eliminates it continuously. Because of this fact, permanent supplementation is recommended. There is no risk of toxicity, but some side effects such as diarrhea and nausea can be observed when taking more than 2 grams a day.
Fruits Rich in Vitamin C
Fruits from the citrus family are probably the most popular sources of vitamin C, but there are many other fruits rich in this nutrient. It is best to consume the following fresh and uncooked, as cooking and exposure to light destroy ascorbic acid:
In fact, all fruits and vegetables include various amounts of vitamin C, but the ones mentioned above represent the best sources. Fruits can either be consumed as they are or in the form of juice. As long as they are not processed, fruits include plenty of ascorbic acid to prevent stress and other health problems.