Your body uses Vitamin C to do a lot of important stuff. This powerful anti-oxidant fights free radicals, lowers oxidative damage in cells and prevents chronic inflammation. While its role in boosting immune functions, and fighting off infections is probably well known, it is also required for collagen synthesis and tissue repair. It also plays an important role in a range of metabolic functions; for example, absorption of iron and activation of folic acid. 
Because of its anti-oxidant effects and role in collagen synthesis, this water-soluble vitamin has been found to be helpful in many chronic conditions such as heart disease, cataracts, type 2 diabetes and even cancer.
But could vitamin C also help you beat stress? Looks like its role in supporting adrenal health is no less important; but unfortunately, it is lesser known.
Most of us perceive stress as an outcome of some emotional or mental issue; blaming missed deadlines, failed relationships, long working hours or money problems for a stressed state. However, infections, injury, surgery, exposure to toxins or a long-term illness also creates stress in the body by inducing oxidative damage.
Long-term stress can harm you in many ways. It impairs your immune response and increases your risk of serious, chronic disease such as heart attack, type 2 diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, hormonal imbalance, depression and insomnia.
So, how can Vitamin C help your body deal with stress and anxiety?
Vitamin C in stress management
Did you know that the highest concentration of vitamin C in the body is stored in the adrenal glands?
Adrenal glands are responsible for releasing hormones, such as cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine, in response to stress. Vitamin C is required for healthy functioning of your adrenal system.
Vitamin C helps the body to quickly remove excess cortisol from the body. You certainly don’t want to have too much cortisol and other stress hormones in your bloodstream. Frequent, long term exposure to these chemicals exhausts the body on many levels. It leads to adrenal fatigue, causing further stress.
The primary function of cortisol is to prepare your body for the classic “flight or fight” response – providing the sudden burst of energy that the body needs to deal with the imminent stressor at hand. This comes in the form of increased flow of glucose to the muscles and your heart pumping at a faster rate to improve blood circulation. That’s why chronic stress can bring on feelings of anxiety and palpitations. It can give rise to all sorts of health conditions such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, poor thyroid functions, weight gain and depression.
Also, one significant consequence of stress is that it depletes vitamin C. Stress places a lot of demand on your body. It increases your metabolic requirements that make your body tap into its pool of anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins to deal with the additional stress. That’s why your body uses a lot more vitamin C (and also magnesium and other nutrients) than normal when you are sick, anxious or stressed. That’s why viral infections, smoking, alcohol intake, fever, emotional stress, use of antibiotics and exposure to heavy metals, for example, are all known to reduce the availability of vitamin C in the body.
Vitamin C is also involved in the synthesis of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulate your mood, sleep-wake cycle, stress response, memory and many other important brain functions. Low levels of serotonin can cause depression, poor sleep and anxiety.
Studies have confirmed that vitamin C helps to improve mood, decrease stress and reduces anxiety. Research, dating back to 1999, suggests that “large doses of vitamin C can prevent illness by alleviating the body's normal response to stress.” This means vitamin C works by improving your ability to deal with stress. 
A 2015 double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial found that vitamin C reduced anxiety levels in students.  Another study found that even short-term supplementation of vitamin C improves mood and reduces psychological distress in acutely hospitalized patients with low levels of vitamin C. 
Another important point to make here is how vitamin C strengthens your immune system. It stimulates the production as well as functions of white blood cells and antibodies. It also increases the levels of interferons, antibodies that prevent viruses to replicate and spread infections. Since stress impacts your immune system in a big way, these immune protecting functions come in handy when you are going through a stressful period.
You can’t store vitamin C, so it is important that you top up your levels every day. Get your hands on a high quality liposomal vitamin C for increased absorption and bioavailability. Having adequate levels of vitamin C in the body during stressful events would help:
- Clear excess cortisol from the body and limit the damage that raised cortisol levels can cause
- Limit oxidative damage triggered during stress
- Strengthen immunity
- Convert tryptophan into serotonin, a brain chemical with positive effects on mood, sleep and anxiety.
- Chambial et al. Vitamin C in Disease Prevention and Cure: An Overview. Indian J Clin Biochem. 2013
- Science Daily. Scientists Say Vitamin C May Alleviate The Body's Response To Stress. American Chemical Society. 1999
- Oliveira et al. Effects of Oral Vitamin C Supplementation on Anxiety in Students: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Pak J Biol Sci. 2015.
- Wang et al. Effects of vitamin C and vitamin D administration on mood and distress in acutely hospitalized patients. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2013.