The Importance of Vitamin C for Adrenal Health

by lydia on September 28, 2012

Vitamin C may quite possibly be the single most essential anti-stress nutrient. Why? Not only does it offer cellular protection and immune support, but it provides adrenal support to produce more cortisone and epinephrine. The adrenals store the highest concentration of Vitamin C in the body. The more cortisol made in the body,  the more vitamin C is used up. The more stress you live in, the more vitamin C your body needs. Vitamin C is water soluble and gets used up quickly by the body, it is imperative to get it in the diet. However, most people do not consume enough for their bodies needs. It really is critical to supplement, especially if you live a stressful life. And we all know, stress is a huge factor in adrenal fatigue. (cover photo credit)

‘In the adrenal glands the concentration of vitamin C is among the highest in the body, being roughly 100 times that of blood plasma levels. As such the adrenals are extremely sensitive to inadequacies in vitamin C. In catecholamine synthesis, vitamin C is required as a co-factor in the conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine. In humans vitamin C secretion occurs as part of the stress response via hormone regulation, specifically in response to stimulation via the adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH). Utilizing adrenal vein catheterization, it was demonstrated that following ACTH stimulation, the mean adrenal vein vitamin C level increased approximately four fold, and then subsequently returned to near pre-stimulation levels approximately 15 minutes thereafter. Peak ad- renal vitamin C and cortisol concentrations have been strongly correlated, suggesting a local action of vitamin C on the adrenal glands. Additionally, it has been noted that, although being of unknown function, the increase in vitamin C secretion suggests that “adrenal vitamin C secretion is an integral part of the stress response.” Stress, fever and viral infections, as well as habitual actions, such as smoking and alcohol use, cause a rapid decline in the blood level of vitamin C, and the vitamin C requirements tend to be higher in stressed or traumatized persons.’  (Source –ADB5-Plus Article)

Supplementing with Vitamin C


It’s important to find your own bio-individual dose of vitamin C as everyone will need differing amounts. The more stress you have been under the more you may need. It’s also important to find quality supplements, a lot of ascorbic acid supplements are derived from corn syrup, and some from cane sugar or beet sugar. If you have any sensitivity to corn or sugars, it’s best to avoid these. In order to know what’s in your supplement, you will likely have to call the company and ask directly. I can recommend Biotics Mixed Ascorbates, they are not derived from corn or sugar and are made in a gluten-free facility. (Also, check out Standard Process or Apex Energetics). I am sure there are others out there, you will just have to do the digging to find out what the quality is. Also, it’s important to make sure you are getting adequate bioflavinoids as well. Most ascorbic acid powders do not include bioflavinoids and most supplements in pill form with the combination of c and bioflavinoids are not a high enough dose for some, nor are they the proper ratio. You want a 2:1 ratio of vitamin C to bioflavinoids. I use a powder mixed ascorbates with a separate citrus bioflavinoid tablet so I can make sure I get the ratio I need. Look for bioflavinoids made from citrus, check to see if they are made in a gluten-free facility and don’t be afraid to call the company to make sure of the source and quality. The last thing you need is a cheap supplement when you are trying to get your body well.

Vitamin C -Loading or Calibration Test

To find your body’s current vitamin C dose, try the following. Obtain your quality sourced ascorbic acid and bioflavinoids and find a day that you do not have to go out. Take 500 mg of ascorbic acid with 250 mg of bioflavinoids every hour until your bowel movements become loose and runny. Once you reach bowel tolerance, reduce the amount by 500 mg and that is your dose. Over time your body will get to the point where loose bowels are attained, meaning you can then lower your dose again by 500 mg. If you experience excessive gas while trying this try taking the dose with food. The dose could range from anywhere between 2-4 grams to 15-20 grams for people with severe and chronic stress.

Be sure to keep in mind that your body will adapt to the level of vitamin C you are taking, and it is wise to carefully and gradually reduce your intake. If you stop suddenly you can experience symptoms of scurvy. The body takes twice as long to adapt to a decrease in vitamin C as it does any increase, so please keep that in mind. This goes for babies, either in utero or nursing. Moms will have to keep in mind that they need to provide their babies or themselves with enough continued vitamin c to avoid this potential problem.

Further Reading on this Topic

How to Use Vitamin C For Adrenal Support

One woman’s tale of how she escaped Adrenal Fatigue by supplementing with Vitamin C

[Sources: Staying Healthy with Nutrition, Elson Haas; ‘Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome”, James L. Wilson]



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Heather Chupp October 2, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Hi Lydia ~

I was wondering if a “buffered” form of vit c is okay – any contradictions to using that type?

lydia January 5, 2014 at 10:04 am


Buffered is fine -it’s actually said to be better for those with sensitive digestion.

Laurie January 6, 2014 at 8:31 pm

I was using buffered vitamin C tablets, 500 mg. After reading this I’m confused as to what I should be taking. I struggle with sacroiliac pain as well as adrenal issues. I have noticed when I am having a painful day a couple of tabs seem to help. Unfortunately I have IBS so not sure I can increase too much. Any advice?

lydia January 6, 2014 at 8:34 pm


You may benefit from Lipospheric C or Liposomal C (do some googling on those) they don’t cause the bowel purging effect. I am working on a post on this, hopefully out next week! Also, read this post for the IBS issues:

Laurie January 6, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Thanks for the response. I have a rough time with probiotics. Sometimes they make me feel much worse….I have tried many different things to heal my gut. Paleo, Autoimmune, probiotics, food allergy testing, stool testing etc still struggling…

lydia January 6, 2014 at 9:58 pm


If that’s the case, the probiotic in that post may actually work on you -read the post and read the low and slow instructions to take it!

Kenny May 10, 2015 at 2:38 pm

Do a search for ‘resistant starches free the animal’. If we want healthy bowel flora, all we need to do is provide the type of food they want, and they will flourish.
One of the additional benefits of supplementing with unmodified potato starch is how it also balances blood sugar.

Good luck!

carol fox January 8, 2014 at 6:09 am

I am 64 and have been having bouts of back pain these last few years going thru it right now cant even move and am all alone went to chiro with some relieve is the vitamin c the only thing you need to take? I believe I do have adrenal issues thank you for any help

Debra E March 28, 2014 at 10:05 am

Can you recommend a good citrus bioflavinoid tablet and is this OK to do while on GAPS intro?

Debra E March 28, 2014 at 10:12 am

Think I found the answer to my first question. Is the Bio-FCTS you recommend in a lesson a bioflavinoid? Since it was right there with the mixed ascorbate powder I assumed they were the same thing.

lydia March 28, 2014 at 10:44 am

Yep it sure is!

Debra E April 6, 2014 at 10:15 pm

Doing a dose loading to find my dose using the BR mixed ascorbate powder & Bio-FCTS. 1 g. of the powder and 4 capsules of the FCTS come closest to the 500mg and 250mg to do each hour. I’ve been doing this for 7 hours and it’s now 9pm! I had expected to reach my dose limit my now but no such luck! Can this be normal if I am low on Vit. C? I obviously can’t continue this through the night so tomorrow do I start by taking a mass dose that equals what I took today and then increase each hour as recommended til I have loose stools?

lydia April 7, 2014 at 10:47 am

The first time I did a loading dose it was insanely high – many of my clients were even higher! I would just keep doing it today….it sounds like your dose was only 3500 mg of vitamin C, is that correct?

Anonymous April 7, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Yes. I went ahead and did another at 10pm so it ended up being 4000mg. So as I go ahead with it today I add up the total between yesterday AND today to find my Vitamin C dose? Does it matter that it is Noon now and I haven’t had any doses since last night at 10pm?

Debra E April 7, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Actually, 1 g of powder is 560mg. This is the closest I can get to 500mg by measuring on my scales. So I’ve actually had 4480mg. And looking at the bio-FCTS hopefully I’ve been calculating right. 1 capsule is 75mg vitamin C (as ascorbic acid) which is the number I have been going by. But the other values include 440mg of proprietary blend which includes, among other ingredients, citrus bioflavonoids. So if this is the supplement that provides the bioflavonoids, which value should I be looking at to figure up half of the mixed ascorbate powder dose?

Debra E April 9, 2014 at 7:49 am

If you could tell me if I am figuring the bioflavonoid right on the Bio-FCTS supplement? I’d been going by the Vitamin C (as ascorbic acid) 75mg per capsule. So on Monday when I did the flush I took 32 capsules total to my 44480g mixed ascorbate powder. Should I instead have been going by the Proprietary blend 440mg per capsule (which citrus bioflavonoids is listed included this with some other ingredients)? Because that seems like an insane amount of capsules to take per day! And thank you soooo much for taking time to graciously answer all my questions!

lydia April 9, 2014 at 9:22 am

Okay -so that would be hard to determine since it’s a blend and not just bioflavinoids. For the purposes of this test that may not be the best option -though it certainly is fine to take, just hard to calculate. When I do this test in particular, I use a straight bioflavinoid product I get from my local health coop.

Debra E April 9, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Oh no! So the Bio-FCTS is the combo of c & flavonoids. No wonder I was confused…I understand now. In your Liver support lesson you mention the mixed ascorbates & Bio-FCTS so I misunderstood and thought I was getting one of each (C & flavonoids).

Debra E April 7, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Oh yes, and as I continue to find my vitamin C dose today, once I reach loose bm’s do I add all the doses from today AND yesterday to find what my body requires? And does it matter that it is noon and I haven’t had a dose since last night at 10?

lydia April 7, 2014 at 2:54 pm

Go by each individual day – since your body really does not store it.

Debra E April 7, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Am I calculating the bioflavonoid right?

Debra E April 26, 2014 at 3:43 pm

2 vitamin C questions: #1 I’m taking 4g ascorbate powder 4x during the day to get my daily dose. I’m still getting a little gassy and it’s stinky. Is the stinky from the vitamin C or from issues with my gut and should I be spreading out the dose even further through the day?
#2 I got the TwinLab brand bioflavonoid caps. 2 capsules have a citrus bioflavonoids complex of 1400 mg and it says “containing 50% total bioflavonoids consisting of flavanones…”. What does this mean in figuring out how much bioflavonoids to take with each dose? That I should cut the 1400mg in half for the 2 capsules since it says 50%? Or just figure it as 1400mg per 2 capsules?

Debra E April 28, 2014 at 5:28 pm

I thought I had posted another few questions here but I don’t see them. So forgive me if I am posting twice!
#1 I am taking 15g mixed ascorbate powder per day, 3g at a time. I am still getting stinky gas. Is this due to the ascorbate or my digestion do you think?
#2 I got TwinLab brand bioflavonoids. The supplemental facts are 1400mg citrus bioflavonoids complex (containing 50% total bioflavonoids consisting of flavanones, etc.). Does this mean the serving size is really 700mg bioflavonoids since it says 50%? Thanks for helping me clear up confusion!

lydia April 29, 2014 at 10:55 am

sorry this comment ended up in the spam folder…..

Debra E May 1, 2014 at 9:40 am

Sorry for the double comment! Thanks for helping me get my vitamin C straightened out.

lydia May 1, 2014 at 10:10 am

No worries -glad I could help!

Debra E May 1, 2014 at 8:58 pm

When you get a moment if you could comment on these questions…

lydia May 1, 2014 at 9:06 pm

Sorry I missed this – I glanced at it and thought I had answered this once before somewhere else …..try taking your dose with food and see if it helps with the gas. Yes, I’d say it’s probably best to bet you are getting 700 mg of bioflavonoids with that one!

Debra E May 30, 2014 at 2:54 pm

I am still struggling with my vitamin C. I stopped taking it for a week or so because of the excessive & stinky gas. Taking it with food doesn’t seem to help. Am I taking too much at one time? I’m taking 3g mixed ascorbate power at a time.

lydia May 30, 2014 at 4:07 pm

I would break it up – remember the body can’t store it. I like 500-1000 mg doses at a time

Debra E May 30, 2014 at 8:00 pm

What are your thoughts on this vitamin C recipe with herbs? I understand one couldn’t know the dosage of vitamin C you would be getting but would this be a good tea to drink regularly do you think? It is from Shoshanna at Bulk Herb Store and their newsletter. Thanks!

— High C Tea Recipe —

All of these herbs are super high in vitamin C, and because they are whole foods, they are more easily recognized and absorbed by the body.

1 Cup Red Raspberry Leaf (2 parts)
1/2 Cup Orange Peel (1 part)
1/2 Cup Hibiscus Flowers (1 part)
3/4 Cup Rose Hips (1 1/2 part)
1/8 Cup Ginger (1/4 part)
1/2 Cup Rooibos (1 part)

Blend together all herbs and store in a tightly-sealed glass jar. Follow our Tea Brewing Instructions for a smooth cup of Vitamin C enriched tea, great served warm or cold over ice. To make a larger or smaller amount of this tea blend, use the parts measurements (we used a 1/2 cup measurement for each “part” in this recipe).

lydia May 30, 2014 at 9:26 pm

Looks good. Just keep in mind that raspberry is an astringent herb – so you wouldn’t want or need to drink it daily, but it would be good before your cycle. I might try it with nettles too…(in place of the raspberry).

Joy March 23, 2015 at 3:19 pm

I was pleased to see that one of the vit C supplements you recommend is Standard Process as I am a fan of these supps! What I am wondering however, is the amount to take. I know that SP are whole food supps and the amounts they contain are low (like my Cataplex C contains only 17mg of vit C). Would I really have to take 30 tablets to equal 500mg of vit C?? That’s just nuts. Help! :)

Olga May 20, 2015 at 1:57 pm

I was on too much thyroid med. Labs were normal, but the the symptoms of fine tremor and anxiety were present. My Dr suggested to take vitamin C. I took powdered vit C from health force made with Aceola Cherry and had a horrendous thyroid attack with high blood pressure and heart rate. It has been a week and I am still having the attacks in the early morning. My Dr says it’s from the release of cortisol that activates the thyroid. Does anyone experienced anything similar.

Joan DeCampos November 8, 2016 at 10:01 pm

Ascorbic Acid is NOT true vitamin C!
Do more research before you supplement with Vit C as ascorbic acid. Watch this video and learn:

lydia November 11, 2016 at 12:09 pm

You are correct – I do only recommend whole food c now, check out my podcast about it here:

lydia April 9, 2014 at 12:45 pm

The Bio-FCTS is a bioflavinoid with immune support and a small amount of vitamin C, the Mixed Ascorbates are a vitamin C. So you are getting both. The Bio-FCTS is a great product, but it’s tough to know the exact dose of actual bioflavinoids it contains.

If I were you -at this time, I would just try to find your vitamin C dose without the bioflavinoids – it could be quite high! Once you establish your dose you can then figure in the bioflavinoids. That might help make it easier for the time being.

Debra E April 9, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Oh thank you because I have been stressing out over this since reading your reply and wondering if I should just give up on the vitamin C thing altogether! I do have one more question (and I really, really hope this is the last question so I can stop bugging you). When looking for a citrus flavonoid, are there any other ingredients I should expect to see, or not see? I have seen several citrus bioflavonoids with rutin. Is that ok? Twinlab supplement info on their bottle says it is a citrus bioflavonoid complex containing 50% total bioflavonoids consisting of flavanones (hesperidin, eriocitrin, naringen, naringenin), flavanols and flavones. Some others have other ingredients such as several forms of cellulose and stearic acid. Is there a simple answer for what is OK and what is not? I feel lost in all this!

lydia April 9, 2014 at 2:28 pm

A good one is really hard to find – I found a basic citrus biflavinoid complex -just look for one with the least amount of fillers in it flavanones are fine…..and maybe check to make sure it’s gluten free!

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