A study finds in addition to benefits related to the common cold and cancer, vitamin C helps reduce both the physical and psychological effects of stress on people.

Research studies have found that vitamin C recently helps reduce both the physical and psychological effects of stress on people.

People who have high levels of vitamin C do not show the expected mental and physical signs of stress when subjected to acute psychological challenges. What’s more, they bounce back from stressful situations faster than people with low levels of vitamin C in their blood.

Earlier studies showed that vitamin C stopped cortisol release in stressed animals. It is  a hormone created by our adrenal glands in response to stress. Cortisol stimulates our “fight or flight” response to stress. That allows us to spring into action when we sense danger. Once it gets into the circulatory system, it is responsible for triggering a protective response to the entire body.

German researchers subjected 120 people to a well known stressor, public speaking, combined with solving math problems. Half of those studied were given 1,000 mg of vitamin C. Indicators of stress, include elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol and high blood pressure were much higher in those who did not receive the vitamin supplement. The participants taking  vitamin C experienced feeling less stress when they got the vitamin.

Our bodies easily recover from a short term release of this hormone.  But continuous high levels of cortisol,  overstimulates our cells and can lead to tissue and organ damage. Thus making us more susceptible to memory loss, learning impairment, the development of chronic diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and cognitive impairment.

In the animal studies, vitamin C fed to rats undergoing stress not only maintained normal cortisol levels, it also stopped the  animals from exhibiting the known signs of physical and emotional stress, including loss of body weight. Those that did not receive vitamin C had t a three -fold increase  of stress hormones.

The current recommended daily amount (RDA) for vitamin C for adults is 60 milligrams—a fraction of the 1,000 mg given and found helpful in the new stress study.  Many believe, the  RDA for vitamin C is vastly underestimated.  It was set several decades ago and is based on the minimum on the amount of the vitamin needed to ward off scurvy (vitamin C deficiency disease).

Current thinking looks at vitamin C from the opposite direction: The amount needed to promote health under varying environmental conditions. That appears to be a lot greater than the amount needed to prevent deficiencies.

There’s also evidence suggesting that our ancient ancestors had a tropical diet  fruit rich diet that allowed the consumption of  large amounts of vitamin C in a.  If so, the physiological constitution we have inherited may require far larger daily doses of vitamin C than the current RDA, perhaps as high as 1,000 mg.

Vitamin C is found in fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits and red and green peppers. It’s also found in papayas, cantaloupes, strawberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, asparagus and parsley. Vitamin C is not present in meats, and a small amount in raw fish.