Vitamin C

Vitamin C, sometimes called ascorbic acid, is possibly the most well known of all the vitamins. Humans have lost the ability to produce this nutrient, so we must get it from food, mainly from fresh fruits and vegetables, and from vitamin supplements.

One of the functions of this substance is helping the body produce a key protein in our connective tissues, cartilage, and tendons called collagen.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects against cell damage from free radicals. It works both inside and outside of cells.

It also may help protect the body against accumulation or retention of the toxic mineral, lead. In one preliminary study, people with higher blood levels of C had much lower risk of having excessive blood levels of lead.

In a controlled trial, male smokers with moderate to high levels of lead received supplements of 1,000 mg per day of vitamin C, 200 mg per day, or a placebo. Only those people taking 1,000 mg per day experienced a drop in the blood lead levels, but the reduction in this group was dramatic.

C works closely with vitamin E, another antioxidant vitamin. Vitamin E works in lipid (fatty) parts of the body, while vitamin C works in water.

C Benefits – A Quick List

  • Powerful antioxidant
  • Helps slow the aging process
  • Helps prevent heart disease
  • Helps prevent cancer
  • Essential for healthy teeth, gums and bones
  • Helps heal wounds, scar tissue and fractures
  • Helps fight infection by building antibodies
  • Helps prevent fatigue
  • Reduces symptoms and shortens duration of the common cold
  • Strengthens blood vessels
  • Increases the absorption of iron
  • Strengthens all connective tissue

Natural Food Sources

Vitamin C is abundantly found in the following foods: Citrus fruits, berries, green vegetables, broccoli, sweet peppers, tomatoes, onions, cantaloupe, mangos, strawberries, pineapple

It is easily destroyed by cooking and food processing. Smoking and taking alcohol may reduce your bodies vitamin C levels. Some nutritionists suggest smokers take a daily supplement of 500 mg.

Some research has found that oral contraceptives, aspirin and analgesics may reduce blood levels of C.

Symptoms of Deficiency

Symptoms of C deficiency may include: Soft and bleeding gums, tooth decay, slow-healing of wounds and fractures, bruising, nosebleeds, loss of appetite, muscular weakness, skin hemorrhages, capillary weakness, anemia.

Although scurvy (severe deficiency) is uncommon in Western societies, many doctors believe that most people consume less than optimal amounts. Fatigue, easy bruising, and bleeding gums are early signs of C deficiency that occur long before frank scurvy develops. Smokers have low levels of and require a higher daily intake to maintain normal levels. Women who have lower blood levels of have an increased risk of gallstones.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for in nonsmoking adults is 75 mg per day for women and 90 mg per day for men. For smokers, the RDAs are 110 mg per day for women and 125 mg per day for men. Most clinical studies have investigated the effects of a broad range of higher intakes (100-1,000 mg per day or more), often not looking for the “optimal” intake within that range.

In terms of heart disease prevention, as little as 100-200 mg of C appears to be adequate. Although some doctors recommend 500-1,000 mg per day or more, additional research is needed to determine whether these larger amounts are necessary. Some experts propose that adequate intake be considered 200 mg per day because of evidence that the cells of the human body do not take up any more vitamin C when larger daily amounts are used.

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