Vitamin C is involved in a great variety of complex and interrelated metabolic processes. Here are three ways in which it is essential for healthy bones.
- Vitamin C assists in the formation of collagen. As described in our article on the nature of healthy bones, bone mineral is laid down over a protein matrix called collagen. Collagen is abundant in the connective tissue of cartilage and bone — in fact, it makes up about 30% of our bones, serving as a support structure for mineral deposits and giving bone its resilience.
- In addition to its role in collagen formation, vitamin C appears to stimulate the cells that build bone, enhance calcium absorption, and enhance vitamin D’s effect on bone metabolism.
- A third role for vitamin C and bones is in the synthesis and optimal functioning of adrenal steroid hormones, which play a vital role in bone health — especially during perimenopause and menopause, when ovarian production of these hormones slows.
Even though the RDA’s for vitamin C are a very minimal 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women, great numbers of Americans do not even consume this amount! Many well-qualified scientists, including the late Nobel laureate, Linus Pauling, believe recommended levels are extremely low, and that our health would be greatly served on many levels by a much higher intake per day. At the Center for Better Bones, patients are encouraged to strive for an intake of 2000–3000 mg per day to recover and preserve bone health, and more if individual need is determined.
I’m Dr. Susan Brown. I am a nutritionist, medical anthropologist, writer, and speaker. Get my free weekly newsletter here.