Vitamin C: What it Is and What it Does
In order to understand the effects of taking Vitamin C and probiotics together, you need to know what Vitamin C does on its own. To summarize, Vitamin C plays an active role in tissue repair and neurotransmitter production and it supports immune system functionality. It’s also an antioxidant.
Antioxidants can strengthen your body's natural defenses. Research shows that increasing Vitamin C levels elevate the number of blood antioxidants, allowing the body to effectively fight inflammation.
In addition to inflammation, Vitamin C boosts immunity. Studies show Vitamin C encourages white blood cell production to protect your body from infection. Additionally, Vitamin C allows white blood cells to function more effectively by protecting them from free radicals and other harmful toxins.
Vitamin C also acts as a potent agent to your skin's defense system. Studies show it acts as a powerful antioxidant that can strengthen your skin barrier. Taking Vitamin C may also reduce the time needed for wounds to fully heal, according to some research.
Vitamin C is also linked to iron absorption and digestion. In fact, research shows that Vitamin C deficiency can cause symptoms, such as flatulence, heartburn and gas, associated with poor digestion. But Vitamin C isn’t the only nutrient that affects gut health; your gut microbiome does too.
Probiotics: What They Are and What They Do
Some of the most popular gut vitamins are probiotics. These living organisms have been shown to provide many health benefits when consumed in foods or supplement form.
Your gut houses a complicated ecosystem of up to 500 bacterial species, collectively known as gut flora. The majority of this gut flora resides in your large intestine, making up the final part of your digestive tract. Additionally, your gut flora is responsible for several health functions, such as manufacturing essential vitamins. Having a poor diet can cause unbalanced gut flora, which leads to disease.
By changing your diet to increase probiotic intake or by taking a probiotic supplement, you can restore gut flora and improve your overall health.
Best Food Sources of Vitamin C
The Office of Dietary Supplements suggests most adults consume between 75 and 120 mg of Vitamin C daily. To take advantage of Vitamin C’s gut-healing properties, you may need to make adjustments to your diet to ensure you’re eating enough foods that are high in Vitamin C.
Thankfully, there's a wide range of options to choose from when looking for foods that boost your Vitamin C intake. For example, a half-cup of red acerola cherries provides 913% of the daily value.
Even better than these cherries is the Kakadu plum, which is native to Australia. It contains a hundred times more Vitamin C than the average orange. One plum offers 481 mg of Vitamin C, or 530% of the daily value. Plus, it’s rich in lutein, Vitamin E and potassium, all of which boost overall health.
Rose hips are another option when you need to up your Vitamin C intake. This small tangy fruit comes from the rose plant. Six rose hips should provide about 119 mg of Vitamin C, or 132% of the daily value.
These aren’t the only foods high in Vitamin C; you can easily incorporate Vitamin C-rich foods into every meal. Chili peppers, sweet yellow peppers, guavas, blackcurrants, thyme and parsley are all high in Vitamin C. Kale, kiwi, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, lemons and strawberries are other great sources.
Best Food Sources of Probiotics
We know now that Vitamin C and probiotics together is a great way to support your immune system, but how do you get more probiotics? While it's popular to take a probiotic supplement, you can receive many of the same benefits simply by adding fermented foods to your diet.
Yogurt is a great option to increase probiotic consumption. It contains friendly bacteria that can boost your health, but you want to avoid brands that have added sugar.
Kefir, a fermented milk drink, is full of probiotics and has been linked to several health benefits.
Sauerkraut is another popular source of probiotics. This finely shredded cabbage is fermented by lactic acid bacteria. This sour food can be stored in an airtight container for months, allowing you to always have a probiotic-rich option on hand. On top of the probiotics you receive, sauerkraut also gives you more Vitamin C, fiber, Vitamin K and Vitamin B. It also contains iron, manganese, zeaxanthin and lutein.
How do Vitamin C and probiotics work together?
Although Vitamin C and probiotics offer different benefits for your immune system, the two complement each other perfectly. Research shows that Vitamin C is essential to optimal immune support and probiotics make it easier for the body to absorb these vitamins.
In the same study that showed how these two elements benefit respiratory illnesses, it's evident that probiotics clear the way for Vitamin C absorption. When your digestive system isn’t working at its best, it becomes difficult to absorb vital nutrients and vitamins for better health.
That's why you must consider both probiotics and Vitamin C for gut health, as well as immunity. If you are eating a healthy and well-balanced diet, it's likely you are already receiving enough Vitamin C and probiotics to keep your body running the way it should. However, if you don't get enough of either through diet alone, you might want to consider taking a highly-rated supplement.
Can you take supplements with Vitamin C plus probiotics?
Can you take Vitamin C and probiotics together? Some vitamins and minerals shouldn't be taken together, but that's not the case here. In fact, both of these work well when taken on an empty stomach.
The more stomach acid that's present, the more difficult it is for healthy bacteria to survive, and stomach acid levels are at their lowest when your stomach is empty. Taking your supplement about 30 minutes before eating allows the probiotic to travel into the gut, thanks to the higher survival odds.
Vitamin C is considered a water-soluble vitamin, which means absorption is best on an empty stomach. You should consider taking both your Vitamin C and probiotics first thing in the morning — ideally, thirty minutes before eating. If that's not possible, wait to take them at least two hours after a meal.
It’s best to take most multivitamins that contain Vitamin C first thing in the morning as well, which allows you to pair them with probiotics. However, fat-soluble vitamins and minerals can cause an upset stomach. That's why you want to take any sort of Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, magnesium and iron supplement with food to limit the digestive side effects and promote absorption.
Additionally, remember to take the right amount of each vitamin, mineral and probiotic if you pick a supplement containing multiple elements. You want 75 to 120 mg of Vitamin C and between 1 billion to 10 billion colony-forming units (CFU)of probiotics. Whatever supplement you choose to take, make sure it’s manufactured by a reputable company and contains only high-quality ingredients for the best results.