Vitamin C Elevates Moods, Reduces Distress and Anxiety
Recent research has confirmed that vitamin C is more than just an antioxidant: It also elevates moods, reduces stress and distress, and reduces anxiety.
Researchers from Canada’s McGill University, working with the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. The researchers divided 52 elderly patients among acute care medical centers into two groups, and gave each either 500 milligrams of vitamin C or 5,000 IU of vitamin D each day for ten days.
Utilizing the Profile of Mood States-B test and the Distress Thermometer test, the researchers found that after an average of 8.2 days, the vitamin C reduced mood disturbance by 71% and reduced psychological distress by 51%.
Meanwhile, the vitamin D supplementation had no significant mood effects.
In their conclusion the researchers noted that hospital patients often have lower levels of vitamin C, so the researchers hypothesized that vitamin C’s effect may be limited to those who are deficient in vitamin C intake.
Vitamin C also helps reduce anxiety among diabetics
But this effect upon moods has also been found among diabetics, as another study found that the antioxidant vitamin C can significantly reduce stress and anxiety among type 2 diabetic patients.
The research divided 45 diabetes mellitus patients into three groups. For six weeks, they gave one group 1,000 milligrams per day of vitamin C, and another 400 IU per day of vitamin E. They gave the third group a placebo. The researchers used a 21-question test called the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale before and after the treatment period.
After the six weeks, those patients taking the vitamin C experienced a significant reduction in anxiety levels. The other two groups experienced no difference in anxiety.
Yes, patients with diabetes mellitus often suffer from anxiety, depression and stress. This was theorized as diabetes producing greater oxidative stress within the cells and tissues, which impacts brain cells and the production of mood neurotransmitters.
Vitamin C boosts microvascular function
But vitamin C might have another effect upon our metabolism that should be considered. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin studied 45 obese adults who were in their early thirties. They found that vitamin C infusions increased blood vessel smooth muscle communications among small capillaries and blood vessels – indicating that vitamin C increased the body’s ability to transport blood through our microvascular system.
And where is microvascular function most critical? Within our brains. Our brain cells and nervous system are fueled with oxygen and nutrients supplied through some of the body’s smallest (micro) blood vessels.
As these vessels lose their flexibility from oxidative damage, our brain cells suffer because they don’t get enough nutrients. As other research has found, microvascular damage among the brain can significantly affect moods and anxiety levels – in addition to increasing the likelihood of dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Citrus is not the best natural source of vitamin C
Most assume citrus is the best place to get our vitamin C. But there are several foods that are better than citrus for vitamin C. These include guavas at 228 milligrams per 100 grams (about half a cup or so), yellow bell peppers and black currants at over 180 milligrams per 100 grams, red chili peppers at over 140 milligrams per 100 grams, kale at 130 milligrams per 100 grams and gold kiwis at 105 milligrams per 100 grams. Tomatoes are also a rich source when the water is taken into account. Sun-dried tomatoes contain over 100 milligrams per 100 grams.
In comparison, an orange contains a little over 53 milligrams per 100 grams.
Note that natural vitamin C sources also contain bioflavonoids and minerals that aid in the absorption and utilization of vitamin C.
Wang Y, Liu XJ, Robitaille L, Eintracht S, MacNamara E, Hoffer LJ. Effects of vitamin C and vitamin D administration on mood and distress in acutely hospitalized patients. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Sep;98(3):705-11. doi:
Mazloom Z, Ekramzadeh M, Hejazi N. Efficacy of supplementary vitamins C and E on anxiety, depression and stress in type 2 diabetic patients: a randomized, single-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Pak J Biol Sci. 2013 Nov 15;16(22):1597-600.
Limberg JK, Harrell JW, Johansson RE, Eldridge MW, Proctor LT, Sebranek JJ, Schrage WG. Microvascular function in younger adults with obesity and metabolic syndrome: role of oxidative stress. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2013 Oct 15;305(8):H1230-7. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00291.2013.
USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list