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Vitamin C: Essential for Stress and Adrenal Function

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November 14, 2018 | Published by


Of all the vitamins and minerals involved in adrenal metabolism, vitamin C is probably the most important. In fact, the more cortisol made, the more vitamin C used. Vitamin C is so essential to the adrenal hormone cascade and the manufacture of adrenal steroid hormones that before the measurement of adrenal steroid hormones became available, the blood level of vitamin C was used as the best indicator of adrenal function level in animal research studies. Vitamin C is used all along the adrenal cascade and acts as an antioxidant within the adrenal cortex itself.

The more stressed you are, the more vitamin C your body uses up. Unlike most animals, humans cannot make their own vitamin C and have limited capacity to store it, so vitamin C must be consumed regularly. Your body’s stress response system depends on vitamin C to function properly, which is why adrenal and pituitary glands (key parts of the stress response system) contain some of the highest levels of vitamin C in the human body.

Another reason adequate vitamin C intake is so important when you are stressed is that vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals. Stress accelerates oxidation, creating more potentially damaging free radicals in your body.

Vitamin C not only increases adrenal function, but also stimulates the immune system. If you feel yourself starting to come down with a cold or respiratory infection, start taking vitamin C at the first signs of distress. This not only aids your immune system in fighting the infection, but it helps your adrenals to respond to the stressful situation in your body created by the infection. In fact, take vitamin C if you:

  • Know you are going to be up late
  • Are stressed for an examination or work event
  • Are going through an emotional crisis or have to push yourself
  • Have eaten food that is bad for you

If you do not make vitamin C available to your body through supplementation and diet, the adrenal hormonal cascade cannot begin or continue. When your adrenal glands cannot make
the additional adrenal hormones required to maintain during stressful times, you will feel worse and be slower to recover. Because there are so many other tissues in the body that also need increased vitamin C during any kind of stress, an adequate supply of it is vital to your body’s ability to respond properly.

How to Best Take Vitamin C

Vitamin C, as it occurs in nature, always appears as a composite of ascorbic acid and certain bioflavonoids . It is this vitamin C complex that is so beneficial, not just ascorbic acid, by itself. Bioflavonoids are essential if ascorbic acid is to be fully metabolized and utilized by your body. The ratio of bioflavonoids to ascorbic acid should be approximately 1:2, that is 1 mg. of bioflavonoids for every 2 mg. of ascorbic acid. Bioflavonoids basically double the effectiveness of ascorbic acid in your body and allow its action to be more complete. The kind of vitamin C you use makes a difference. Vitamin C is much more than ascorbic acid.

Because vitamin C is water-soluble and quickly used up or excreted from your body, it should be consumed several times per day. This is particularly true when your body is under any kind of physical, emotional, environmental or infectious stress. The quantity of vitamin C required varies by person and by stress level. As stressful events increase, the need for many nutrients, but especially vitamin C, also increases.

Oxidation is necessary to health and the resulting free radicals are normally handled by your body. However, too much oxidation can create an overload, which left unchecked can contribute to health issues related to free radical tissue and DNA damage, and the adrenal glands are especially vulnerable. This means that whether you are experiencing ‘good’ stress in aerobics class or a ‘bad’ stress dealing with a hectic lifestyle, or you are struggling with adrenal fatigue, making sure you get enough vitamin C makes sense for your body’s well-being.


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