Vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid is one of the most commonly known Vitamin C no ascorbic acid vitamins. Being a water soluble vitamin, it needs to be constantly replenished because the excess that the body does not require is eliminated through the system via the urine. It participates in many vital bodily functions. One should consume Vitamin C is moderation even though there is no real danger if excess is present in the body.

Perhaps the most important function of Vitamin C is its antioxidant effect. Oxidants are free radicals that if left uncontrolled can damage cells significantly. For example, just like how rust can make a car’s exterior disintegrate, similarly free radicals can damage skin and other body parts.

Ascorbic Acid is also very important for maintaining healthy skin. It helps in the production of collagen, an essential protein that prevents skin damage. Sufficient amounts of collagen can delay the development of wrinkles and prevent saggy skin by improving the skin’s elasticity and texture. Vitamin C also helps to repair tissues so that wounds heal faster.

Vitamin C is essential for the proper metabolism of folic acid, tyrosine, iron and phenylalanine. Without Ascorbic Acid, the body will not be able to synthesize fats and proteins or properly utilize carbohydrates.

Vitamin C is also known to relieve the symptoms of a cold. It is able to do so by increasing the production of white blood cells and antibodies that fight against the cold producing germs. However, contradictory to popular belief, Vitamin C cannot prevent a cold from occurring but can only help alleviate the symptoms.

This essential vitamin also enables the bone marrow to produce red blood cells and hemoglobin and keeps the nervous system healthy. It is even responsible for strengthening the artery walls so that they are more resistant to fighting the build-up of plaque.

Recent scientific studies have also revealed positive results on the possibility of Vitamin C to slow down and perhaps even prevent the formation of cataracts.

Some excellent sources of vitamin C are fruits especially the citrus ones like Oranges, Limes, guavas, lemons, tangerines, grapefruit and mangoes. Most vegetables like potatoes,collard greens, sweet and hot peppers, cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes and spinach also contain adequate amounts of Ascorbic Acid. These fruits and vegetables should ideally be consumed in their raw or uncut form so as to preserve the Vitamin C content. Exposure to light or steam tend to break down this vitamin so care should be taken during preparation.

Studies have indicated that the daily recommended dosage of Vitamin C for adults is 60 mg.

A Vitamin C deficiency leads to a condition known as Scurvy. Sailors who spend long periods of time at sea were more prone to suffering from scurvy. Symptoms generally include bleeding gums, a swollen mouth and teeth that become loose. As the condition worsens the muscles and joints tend to become weak and more painful.

Other indications that one might be suffering from a Vitamin C deficiency include frequent infections, easily bruised body parts, prolonged colds, painful or swollen joints and muscles, nose bleeds and anemia during which the skin loses its natural pallor and looks tired.

Vitamin C or L-Ascorbic Acid is not manufactured by the body. It must be obtained through diet or supplementation. It is a water soluble vitamin found in the juices of fruits and vegetables and readily leaches into the cooking water of boiled foods. It is very sensitive to oxidation and is destroyed whenever foods are cut or torn which exposes the cells to air. Alkalies such as baking soda or antacids destroy ascorbic acid.

Vitamin C is a very important antioxidant and is required for at least 300 metabolic functions in the human body. This includes tissue growth and repair, adrenal gland function, and healthy gums. It also aids the production of anti-stress hormones and interferon which is an important immune-system protein. It must also be present for the metabolism of folic acid, tyrosine and phenylalanine. Taking vitamin C can reduce the symptoms of asthma.

Ascorbic acid protects against the harmful effects of pollution, helps prevent cancer, protects against infection, and enhances immune system function. It increases the absorption of iron and can combine with toxic substances, like certain heavy metals, and render them harmless and allow them to be eliminated from the body. Very large doses of vitamin C may even render the venom of the black widow spider harmless.

This vitamin may also reduce levels of LDL (the bad cholesterol) while it increases levels of HDL (the good cholesterol) and lower high blood pressure to help prevent atherosclerosis. It is essential for the formation of collagen. Collagen is a protein that forms the basis for connective tissue, the most abundant tissue in the body. Collagen binds muscle cells together, gives support and maintains shape in intervertebral discs and eustachian tubes, and provides movement in joints. Vitamin C protects against abnormal blood clotting and bruising. It may reduce the risk of cataracts and promotes healing of wounds and burns.

Vitamins C works in concert with both vitamin E and beta-carotene. Taking these vitamins together allow them to repotentiate each other and may counter potential adverse effects of taking them separately. Vitamin E works to scavenge dangerous free radicals in cell membranes, while vitamin C scavenges free radicals in biologic fluids. These vitamins reinforce and extend the antioxidant activity of the other.

Ascorbic acid has a role in amino acid metabolism and hormonal synthesis. It contributes to the formation of tyrosine (the precursor for the neurotransmitters epinephrine and norepinephrine). During periods of stress these hormones are mobilized, and the small stores of ascorbic acid in the adrenal glands are depleted. Therefore, vitamin C may help the body deal more effectively with stress. Tryptophan is converted to 5-hydroxytryptophan in the presence of vitamin C and is decarboxlated to form the neurotransmitter serotonin.

CANCER: Cancer risk is reduced by the antioxidant characteristics of vitamin C. Researchers at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland found that free-radical activity damages DNA, which might initiate carcinogenic changes in colonic mucosa. Vitamin C suppresses this damage and limits adenomatous polyp growth in patients with colorectal cancer. This vitamin acts as a cytotoxic agent in cancerous cells to reverse chemically-transformed cells back to a normal phenotype. Vitamin C, together with beta-carotene, reverses cervical dysplasia, leukoplakia, and gastric metaplasia.

CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE: A study at the University of California, Los Angeles, compared heart disease mortality rates in individuals with the highest and lowest vitamin C intakes and found that regular supplementation with vitamin C reduced the mortality rate from cardiovascular disease by 45%.

DIABETES: Ascorbic acid may help regulate insulin action in diabetics according to a study conducted at the National Institutes of Health. The study indicates that ascorbic acid participates in insulin regulation by inhibiting glucose-induced insulin release in pancreatic islets.

IMMUNE SYSTEM: A marginal ascorbic acid deficiency results in compromised immune system function according to a study from USDA Agriculture Research Service in San Francisco and UCLA School of Public Health in Los Angeles. This was despite the absence of clinical deficiency symptoms. Moreover, researchers at Arizona State University in Tempe report that high intakes of vitamin C stimulate the immune system response by degrading and detoxifying histamine and might indirectly enhance neutrophil chemotaxis.

COMMON COLD: Finnish researches reviewed current research on ascorbic acid and the common cold. They found that most studies report the vitamin to have only a small effect on cold prevention. However, the studies consistently show this vitamin helps reduce a cold’s duration and severity. Vitamin C supplements given in therapeutic doses (1 to 8 grams/day) at the onset of a cold reduce the duration of cold episodes by as much as 48%.

VISION: Levels of vitamin C in the eye are 20 to 70 times greater than that found in plasma and other tissues. This vitamin plays a key role in proper ocular function by protecting the eye against light-induced loss of retinal pigment, epithelial cells, and photoreceptor cells. It also eliminates O2 from the lens and protects against UV radiation. There is some evidence that links higher intakes of this vitamin with a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration.

Low intakes of this vitamin may increase the risk for developing cataracts. Low levels to none are found in cataractous lenses, while human lenses with senile cataracts have increased levels of free radicals. It is unknown whether these associations are the cause or result of cataracts. In vitro studies have shown that ascorbic acid may benefit glaucoma in the human eye.

CAUTIONS: Do not take aspirin and large doses of standard ascorbic acid together. Doing so may lead to stomach irritations, possibly contributing to ulcer formation. If you take aspirin regularly, use a buffered form of vitamin C, and take it separately from the aspirin.

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble, antioxidant vitamin. It is important for the formation and maintenance of collagen, a protein that gives structure to bones, joints, teeth, skin, cartilage, muscle, and blood vessels. Collagen, and thus Vitamin C, is needed for wound healing and to maintain healthy blood vessels. Vitamin C also aids in the absorption of iron and may help the immune system battle various invaders and disease, along with psychological disorders.

Vitamin C and the Immune System

Vitamin C is so essential because it helps support thyroid hormone production. Thyroid hormones are involved in the regulation of metabolism, energy, sex hormones and even brain function. Vitamin C is also required for the metabolism of folic acid, tyrosine, tryptophan and in cellular immune functions, where it may be helpful against bacterial, viral, and fungal diseases. In higher amounts, Vitamin C may decrease the production of histamine, thereby reducing allergy potential. A combination of very high doses of Vitamin C + Vitamin E + Vitamin B12 has been found effective in lessening the symptoms of shingles (herpes zoster), provided they are all taken at the earliest onset of the attack.

Vitamin C and Disease

Vitamin C is useful in preventing or healing iron-deficiency anemia because it allows for the absorption of iron, particularly the vegetable, or non-heme form. Other conditions that benefit from ascorbic acid metabolism include diabetes (for insulin production), certain cases of male infertility, as well as arteriosclerosis, atherosclerosis, cataracts, glaucoma, and muscular-skeletal degeneration (mostly because Vitamin C keeps calcium soluble).

How much do you need?

Since vitamin C is water soluble, your body expels what it does not absorb and high doses can be taken with little risk of toxicity. For determining the optimal intake of Vitamin C, most doctors recommend the “Bowel Tolerance Challenge” – by ingesting increasing amounts of ascorbic acid until diarrhea sets in, then reducing Vitamin C to a tolerated dose. We easily tolerate 1,000 – 3,000 mg daily.

When to Boost Your Vitamin C Intake

Ascorbic acid is used up more rapidly with alcohol use, smoking, and under stressful conditions. Prolonged stress depletes Vitamin C in the adrenals and in the blood. Dr. John Hoffer at Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital says that vitamin C deficiencies are linked to psychological problems. Other factors that increase Vitamin C requirements include viral illness and fever, Aspirin and other medications (sulfa antibiotics, cortisone), environmental toxins (DDT), and exposure to heavy metals such as mercury, lead, or cadmium.

Dietary Sources

Foods rich in vitamin C include: citrus fruit, green peppers, sweet and hot peppers, potatoes, spinach, parsley, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, rose hips, black currants, blueberries and other berries, tomatoes, horseradish, and watercress.

Food – Serving Size/Milligrams Vitamin C
Guava – 1 medium / 165 mg
Red Bell Pepper – 1/2 cup / 95 mg
Papaya – 1 medium / 95 mg
Orange juice, from frozen concentrate – 3/4 cup / 75 mg
Orange – 1 medium / 60 mg
Broccoli, boiled – 1/2 cup / 60 mg
Green bell pepper – 1/2 cup / 45 mg
Kohlrabi, boiled – 1/2 cup / 45 mg
Strawberries – 1/2 cup / 50 mg
Grapefruit, white – Half / 40 mg
Cantaloupe – 1/2 cup / 35 mg
Tomato juice – 3/4 cup / 35 mg
Mango – 1 medium / 30 mg

Vitamin C can be lost from foods during preparation, cooking, or storage. To prevent loss of vitamin C:

* Serve fruits and vegetables raw whenever possible

* Steam, boil, or simmer foods in a very small amount of water, or microwave them for the shortest time possible

* Cook potatoes in their skins. Be sure to wash the dirt off the outside of the potato

* Refrigerate prepared juices and store them for no more than two to three days

* Store cut, raw fruits and vegetables in an airtight container and refrigerate

* do not soak foods or store in water, the Vitamin C will be dissolved in the water

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