Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. Contrary to many other animals, humans are unable to make their own in their bodies. Since this is the case we must have it in our diets.
Vitamin C is needed in our diets to allow collagen synthesis. Collagen is an important blood vessel, ligament, tendon and bone structural component. The neurotransmitter ‘norepinephrine’ is able to be synthesized in the presence of this vitamin. Neurotransmitters are vital for proper brain functioning and are known to also affect mood. Vitamin C consumption also makes carnitine (essential for transporting fat to mitochondria in the body’s cells) synthesis possible. Once in the mitochondria fat is converted to energy as required. Current research into this vitamin suggests it may aid cholesterol’s metabolism to bile acids, important for controlling levels of blood cholesterol and the likelihood of gallstone formation in the kidneys.
Highly effective as an antioxidant, this vitamin, even when consumed in tiny quantities, can shield important molecules like proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and nucleic acids (which make up DNA and RNA) from the damaging effects of free radicals and reactive oxygen species which tend to occur in the presence of toxins, pollution or just as a byproduct of regular metabolism. There is the possibility that vitamin C has the capacity for other antioxidant regeneration.
When not consumed in healthy quantities this particular vitamin’s deficiency leads to various health issues.
The U.S. recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is 60mg, for both men and women. Smokers are advised to increase their intake by 35mg/ day due to smoke increasing the oxidation of vitamin C therefore lowering the blood vitamin C level.
Scurvy is one of the best known effects of the C vitamin’s deficiency. Symptoms of scurvy include increased occurrence of bruising or bleeding, tooth and hair loss, and pains or swellings in the joints. Fatigue is common with the onset of scurvy, possibly resulting from reduced carnitine and norepinephrine. The simple effect of consuming lime or lemon juice is a fast and effective relief method.
Higher daily levels than the RDA states are deemed to be needed to stave off long-term C vitamin deficiency-associated chronic diseases.
Cardiovascular diseases of coronary heart disease and strokes may develop over time if not enough vitamin C is consumed. A whole host of cancers have been reported as less likely if sufficient quantities of this vitamin, in the form of fresh fruit and vegetables, are consumed. Similarly, cataracts, a common form of visual impairment throughout the world, are less likely with sufficient vitamin C intake. Although not yet fully understood, lowered intestinal absorption or heightened excretion of lead in our urine may be promoted by this vitamin. The vitamin is well known to aid the prevention of pathogens, like the common cold, taking a hold.
Superb sources of ascorbic acid are citrus fruits like grapefruits, oranges and lemons. Strawberries, tomatos, broccoli, potatoes and sweet red peppers. Many foods exist today that with chemical vitamin C preservers in place to keep this highly labile vitamin from being quickly degraded.
In the very rare instance of C vitamin overdose (greater than 10mg/ day/ adult) potential (as yet largely scientifically unproven) toxic effects are birth defects, cancer, kidney stones, atherosclerosis, rebound scurvy, excess iron absorption and oxidative stress, genetic mutation, vitamin B-12 deficiency and dental enamel erosion.
Category: Healthcare Basics