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Purpose of Vitamin C & Spinal Cord Injury

By Erica Jacques

People with spinal cord injuries, or SCIs, may be advised to take vitamin C supplements or to eat foods that are high in vitamin C. This can help them avoid some SCI-associated complications, such as urinary tract infections or pressure ulcers. The recommended daily dose of vitamin C can vary based on a person’s need and whether the vitamin is being taken for prevention or treatment.

Vitamin C and Healing

Vitamin C has long been used to prevent sickness. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and plays an important role in both healing and preventing potential infections. According to Medline Plus, vitamin C is a vital part of the connective tissue healing process, because it plays a major role in collagen formation. In addition, vitamin C can help prevent and fight bodily infections. Because it does not occur naturally in the body, vitamin C must be taken as a supplement or come from the foods you eat.

Vitamin C and Spinal Cord Injury

Medline Plus says that the average male needs around 90mg daily of vitamin C. However, a person who has a spinal cord injury may require more. People with spinal cord injuries are more prone to infections as well as pressure sores. Because of this, they may need additional vitamin C in their diet, both for healing and prevention. Pressure sores range from minor redness to total skin and underlying tissue breakdown. According to the National Guideline Clearinghouse, there is strong evidence that high doses of vitamin C improve pressure sore healing for people who have spinal cord injuries. Vitamin C is also effective at preventing and treating urinary tract infections, or UTIs, a common problem for those living with SCI.

How Much Vitamin C is Enough?

The recommended daily dose of vitamin C for people with SCI ranges from a few hundred to a few thousand milligrams daily, depending on the exact condition. For mild pressure sores, the National Guideline Clearinghouse recommends 100 to 200mg daily to enhance healing. However, for people with severe pressure sores, the recommendation increases to between 1,000 and 2,000mg. Northwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury System recommends that those who wish to avoid or treat a UTI take between 500 and 2,000mg of vitamin C every day.

Is Overdosing Possible?

Vitamin C is a hard vitamin to overdose on. It is water-soluble, meaning that it does not build up in the body over time. Medline Plus says that for most people, 2,000mg of vitamin C daily is safe. However, those who exceed the 2,000mg mark may be prone to vitamin C toxicity. If supplementing with vitamin C to avoid spinal cord injury complications, check with your doctor or a nutritionist to ensure you are getting the correct amount.

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