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Vitamin C and Sleep – Can This Sour Citrus Be Your New Sleep Superhero?

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Written By Anđela Rajković

Certified Sleep Consultant

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29 April 2024 7 min read

Feeling tired and groggy in the morning? It might be time to squeeze some extra z's into your routine with a boost of Vitamin C! Yes, vitamin C and sleep health are connected and we are here to show you how.

There is not a person on this planet who hasn't heard of this zesty vitamin. So, what makes vitamin C so famous? Well, its ‘famousness' may come from the fact that it is in almost all fruits and vegetables. No matter what you eat, you will get your daily dose of vitamin C.

However, what is essential for us, The Sleep Advisors' is to tell you that vitamin C and sleep are closely connected! Yes, if you eat foods rich in this vitamin (or if you take it C supplementation), you can improve your sleep quality.

What is vitamin C?

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So, first things first, what do we have to know about this ‘famous' vitamin C?

Well, the first thing we should know is that this vitamin is a water-soluble vitamin, also known as ascorbic acid. And, as such, it plays a vital role in various bodily functions. Moreover, vitamin C is an essential nutrient, meaning that our bodies cannot produce it on their own. Rather, we need to obtain it through our diet or supplements.

Vitamin C is involved in several biological processes, including collagen synthesis, immune health, wound healing, and antioxidant protection. It is found in many fruits and vegetables, such as citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, broccoli, bell peppers, and spinach. However, we will talk about this in more detail later on.

What are the benefits of vitamin C for sleep?

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According to Sean Buyers from Health Report Live, ‘there is some evidence to suggest that vitamin C may have a connection to sleep quality. Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin that helps to protect the body from oxidative stress, which can be caused by factors such as pollution, smoking, and poor diet. It is also involved in the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin, which can affect mood and sleep.'

Vitamin C has several benefits for sleep, including:

So, yes, if you have enough vitamin C levels in your body, you will have a restful sleep tonight and every night to come!

However, let us get something clear – vitamin C can contribute to sleep health. However, this vitamin alone can't fix your poor sleep quality and all of your sleep disorders! To fix your sleep disorder, whatever that disorder may be, you have to pair vitamin C with a healthy diet. It also goes with physical exercise, reduced stress, and some other vitamins (such as vitamins e, d, b, etc.).

Other benefits of vitamin C

However, vitamin C does not only contribute to improved sleep quality but also to our physical and mental health!

Vitamin C intake has several important benefits for overall health, including:

Foods rich in vitamin C

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Vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables, so, incorporating it into your diet is relatively easy. Some of the best sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruit. One medium-sized orange contains about 70 mg of vitamin C, which is more than the recommended daily intake for adults. Other citrus fruits, such as grapefruit and tangerines, also contain high levels of vitamin C.

Berries are another excellent source of vitamin C, with strawberries and raspberries containing particularly high levels of nutrients. One cup of strawberries provides more than 100% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. One cup of raspberries contains about 50 mg of vitamin C.

In addition to citrus fruits and berries, many vegetables are also rich in vitamin C. Bell peppers, for example, contain more vitamin C than most citrus fruits. A medium-sized red bell pepper contains about 150 mg of vitamin C. A medium-sized green bell pepper contains about 95 mg. Other high vitamin C vegetables include broccoli, brussels sprouts, and spinach.

Thus, if you have vitamin C deficiency (lower vitamin C levels), try to incorporate some fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet. Even a single piece of fresh fruit a day can make a huge difference. Do this before you opt for vitamin C supplementation!

Can you get this vitamin through supplementation?

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Yes, vitamin C can also be obtained through supplementation. Vitamin C supplements come in various forms, including tablets, capsules, chewable tablets, powders, and gummies.

While it is always best to get nutrients from whole foods, vitamin C supplements can be a convenient and effective way to ensure you meet your daily requirements.

 

It's always a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen. That's especially if you have any medical conditions or are taking prescription medications, as vitamin C supplementation can interact with some medications.

How much vitamin C do you actually need?

The recommended daily intake of vitamin C varies depending on age, gender, and other factors such as pregnancy and smoking status. For most healthy adults, the recommended daily intake of vitamin C is between 75-120 mg per day. However, some individuals may require higher doses, such as smokers, who have increased oxidative stress and therefore may require up to 250 mg per day.

For pregnant and breastfeeding women, the recommended daily intake of vitamin C is slightly higher, at 85-120 mg per day. This is because vitamin C plays an important role in fetal development, and insufficient intake of the nutrient during pregnancy can lead to complications such as low birth weight and preterm birth. Additionally, breast milk is a source of vitamin C for infants, so breastfeeding mothers need to ensure they are getting enough of the nutrients to support their own health as well as that of their baby.

It is important to note that while vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and excess amounts are excreted in the urine, too much vitamin C can cause gastrointestinal discomfort and diarrhoea. Therefore, it is generally best to aim for the recommended daily intake rather than excessively high doses, unless advised to do so by a healthcare professional for a specific medical condition.

The side-effects of vitamin C

While vitamin C is generally considered safe and well-tolerated when taken in appropriate doses, taking excessive amounts of the nutrient can lead to side effects.

Some of the most common side effects of taking high doses of vitamin C include gastrointestinal discomforts, such as diarrhoea, nausea, and abdominal cramps. These symptoms usually occur when amounts exceed 2,000 mg per day, although individual tolerance may vary.

In addition, taking very high doses of vitamin C over a long period of time may increase the risk of developing kidney stones, particularly in people with a history of kidney disease or other risk factors for kidney stones.

Some individuals may also be allergic to vitamin C or certain forms of the nutrient, such as ascorbic acid. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to vitamin C may include hives, itching, swelling, and difficulty breathing.

Some of the best vitamins for sleep quality

An image of slices of citrus fruits.

In addition to vitamin C, several other vitamins can also play a role in promoting adequate sleep. Here are a few examples:

  1. Vitamin D: Adequate vitamin D levels have been associated with better sleep quality, and vitamin D deficiency has been linked to sleep disturbances. Vitamin D is produced by the body in response to sunlight exposure, but it can also be obtained through foods such as fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified dairy products.

2. Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 is involved in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which helps regulate sleep-wake cycles. Foods rich in vitamin B6 include poultry, fish, potatoes, bananas, and chickpeas.

3. Magnesium: Magnesium plays a role in promoting relaxation and reducing stress, which can improve sleep quality. Good dietary sources of magnesium include nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, and leafy green vegetables.

4. Melatonin: Although not a vitamin, melatonin is a hormone produced by the body that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Melatonin supplements may be helpful for some people who have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep (and those who have various sleep disorders).

It's worth noting that while vitamins and other nutrients can play a role in promoting good quality sleep, they are not a substitute for good sleep hygiene practices such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, and creating a comfortable sleep environment.

So, once again – if you have trouble sleeping, it's always a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying medical conditions and determine the best course of treatment.

Conclusion

In conclusion, vitamin C is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in many functions of the body, including promoting enough quality sleep. Adequate intake of vitamin C from dietary sources or supplements may help regulate sleep-wake cycles, reduce inflammation, and alleviate stress, all of which can contribute to better sleep quality.

However, it's important to remember that vitamin C is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to promoting healthy sleep habits. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule, practising good sleep hygiene, and managing stress levels are all crucial factors in achieving restful and restorative sleep.

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About the author

Anđela Rajković
As a CPD certified Sleep Consultant and well-practiced sleep enthusiast, I find a lot of joy in bringing my expertise to our readers – preferably those who love to sleep. With a background in the English language and literature and a love of research, I'm always seeking new ways to share the latest sleep science and bed-related findings. And, when I'm not connecting with my readers, you can find me exploring the great outdoors, or, well, curling up in bed.
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