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 seperate 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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LydiaLydia Joy Shatney is a certified Nutritional Therapist Practitioner through the Nutritional Therapy Association. Additionally, she is the chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation in Delaware County, Pa. (Find the group here on Facebook). Lydia is also a member of the Nourished Living Network. Lydia founded Divine Health From The Inside Out in March of 2010. You can find Lydia on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest. Sign up for the Divine Health From The Inside Out newsletter! Pick up a copy of Lydia’s eBook; ‘Divine Dinners: Gluten-Free, Nourishing, Family-Friendly Meals’.

Lydia offers specialized step by step counseling to transform your health. Personalized consultations to suit your specific needs are offered via phone or in person. Lydia offers a variety of packages offered to suit your individual needs. Contact Lydia today to get started as well as to learn more about what she has to offer you!

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

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!


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?


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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