Otago University, Christchurch study shows amount of vitamin C needed to improve health

Researchers have pinned down exactly how much vitamin C is needed to maximise immune health.

New research from Otago University, Christchurch, has found for every 10kg over the baseline of 60kg a person weighs their body needs an extra 10 milligrams.

That means if you weigh 90kgs, you need an extra 30mg over the daily average of 110mg of vitamin C.

Previous studies have already linked higher body weight with lower vitamin C levels but this is the first to estimate how much extra daily vitamin C is actually needed to help maximise health.

Associate Professor Anitra Carr said overweight people may be more susceptible to getting severer Covid-19 because their vitamin C levels are lower.

“We know obesity is a risk factor for getting Covid-19 and that obese patients are more likely to struggle to fight it off once infected. We also know that vitamin C is essential for good immune function and works by helping white blood cells fight infection.

“Pneumonia is a major complication of Covid-19 and patients with pneumonia are known to be low in vitamin C. International research shows that vitamin C decreases the likelihood of people getting pneumonia and decreases the severity of it,” she said.

Carr said many people do not realise the bigger someone is the more vitamin C they should consume.

The easiest way to increase vitamin C intake is by upping the consumption of vitamin C-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables or by taking a supplement, she said.

“The old saying of an apple a day keeps the doctor away is actually useful advice here.”

However, she said for those who dislike eating fruit, have restricted diets such as people with diabetes, or struggle to access fresh fruit and vegetables because of financial barriers, taking a vitamin C supplement is a great alternative.

“There are a large variety of vitamin C supplements available over-the-counter, most are relatively cheap, safe to use and easily accessible from a local supermarket, pharmacy or online.

“My advice for those who choose to get their vitamin C from a multivitamin is to check the exact amounts of vitamin C per tablet, as some multivitamin formulations may only contain it in very low doses.”

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