Although the research findings on vitamin C are less consistent than for beta-carotene, there is evidence to suggest you should be getting more in your diet. The vitamin may keep women healthy by acting as an antioxidant or it may work by enhancing the body’s immune system. Vitamin C also plays an important role in the synthesis of collagen, an important tissue in the breast.
For women, the daily recommended intake for vitamin C is 75 milligrams (if you smoke you need 110 milligrams). This amount is easy to get from your diet. For a look at your best bets for vitamin C, see the Vitamin C in Foods table on page 12 in chapter 1.
Vitamin C Supplements
At this time, there is no evidence to warrant vitamin C supplements for breast cancer prevention; it won’t do harm if you’re already taking one. But before you pop a
pill every day, make sure you add one or two vitamin-C-rich foods to your daily diet. Don’t forget that fruits and vegetables have plenty of other protective compounds that may work in tandem with vitamin C to keep you healthy. If you find your diet lacks these foods, or you want to increase your vitamin C intake further, use the following guide when taking vitamin C supplements.
• Take 500 or 600 milligrams of vitamin C, once or twice daily. Taking more than 200 milligrams of vitamin C at once won’t increase your blood levels further. I’ve recommended 500 or 600 milligrams because these are the most common doses you’ll find. If you want to take more, you’re better off splitting your dose over the course of the day.
• Look for a brand that states “Ester C” on the label. This is a patented form of vitamin C that laboratory studies have found to be up to four times more available to the body than regular vitamin C (ascorbic acid or ascorbate).
• If you prefer a chewable supplement, make sure it’s made from calcium ascorbate or sodium ascorbate. These forms of the vitamin are less acidic, so they’re easier on the enamel of your teeth.