All That You Ever Wanted to Know About Vitamin C
Do you think that you know everything there is to know about vitamin C? If so, you will find this study interesting and even a bit surprising. Of course, most of us are already aware that the recommended daily dose of this vitamin is between 60 and 90 milligrams (depending upon where in the world you might live). Is this really the case or is there a bit more than might meet the eye? Most people think that such information represents all of the knowledge that is required. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s now take a look at some lesser-known facts and figures.
An (Almost) Universally Produced Vitamin
One of the more interesting observations about vitamin C is that nearly all creatures produce it naturally. In other words, the average elephant or the humble rat will not be needing to stock up on oranges during the colder months of the year. Why is this the case? Most organisms metabolically synthesise this vitamin automatically; much in the same way that other substances such as sweat or fat are produced.
Unfortunately, mother nature has played a cruel joke on some organisms. Apes, a certain species of fruit bat, guinea pigs and humans are unable to produce vitamin C naturally. In other words, humans and guinea pigs will remain on the same page for the sake of this article. Let’s take a look at this situation in a bit more detail.
The Same but Different
The average guinea pig weighs just over one kilogram (between two and three pounds). The ladies of the group keep a bit trimmer while the gentlemen might lean a bit more towards the heavy side; especially if they are lounging around in their cages as opposed to spinning on that tiny wheel.
According to scientists, a guinea pig that weighs one kilogram will require 30 milligrams of vitamin C in order to function normally. Wait a minute. How is it possible for a guinea pig that weighs one kilogram to need such a large proportion of this vitamin in relation to its body mass? How in the world does a human only require double this amount? What about the massive difference in body weight? These are all great questions which deserve clear answers.
A Look at the Basics
Earlier in this article we mentioned that many animals produce this vitamin without needing to head off to the local health nutrition store or to scarf down a bag of oranges. However, exactly how much do they produce? Let us look at this in relation to a human that weighs 70 kilograms for the sake of argument without getting too much involved with long and technically confusing data.
We should use our furry friends as an example and we will assume that they have taken a healthy dose of growth hormone and weigh the same as our 70-kilogram human (a bit of a scary thought). Dogs and cats (depending upon the species) would therefore produce between 2,000 and 4,000 milligrams of vitamin C each day. We will now expand upon this data in order to better appreciate the big picture.
Let’s recall that a guinea pig weighing one kilogram requires approximately 30 milligrams of vitamin C each day. A person weighing 50 kilograms would therefore require 1,500 milligrams (30 x 50) during the same time period. This equates 1.5 grams. We can then take these figures and address different body weights:
- A person weighing 70 kilograms will need roughly 2,100 milligrams (70 x 30 milligrams)
- A person weighing 100 kilograms would need 3,000 milligrams each day (100 x 30 milligrams)
This should now make a bit more sense. Dogs and cats tend to produce this vitamin on the same scale as the dosages that the humble guinea pig and the human will require.
An Evolving Concept
While no one likes to cite personalities to back up their claims, it is still important to mention a famous Hungarian scientist named Dr. Albert Szentgyorgyi. He was one of the first professionals to recommend consuming at least 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C on a daily basis. Later in life, he realised that this amount was actually too little; causing him to increase the recommended dosages. He even took the concept to extremes when suggesting that sacks of this vitamin should be sold next to common ingredients such as sugar and flour. In fact, he even felt that there should be a vitamin C holder in the centre of every dinner table. While perhaps slightly over the top, we have to admire his enthusiasm!
Getting Your Daily Dose
So, it should now be clear how much vitamin C the average human and his guinea pig counterpart will need each day. The next time you run low, be sure to head out to the local supplement store with your favourite guinea pig (although a human and a guinea pig both asking for their dose of vitamin C might not sit well with some other customers in the queue). While we do seem to share one thing in common with guinea pigs, never forget that you will require far more than the 60 milligrams that they will be given. If you hope to stay healthy and happy, be sure to keep these facts in mind!