Vitamin C is also known from the name of ascorbic acid. Guinea pigs, primates, birds and people are incapable of making Vitamin C. Plants and other animals manufacture Vitamin C from glucose. From long time period, Vitamin C is enjoyed as a nutrition supplement and regarded as one of the most recognizable as well as sought after nutrients. Vitamin C is prone to breakdown during cooking, processing and storage procedures. For example, potatoes lose half of their vitamin C by boiling. Spinach loses its entire vitamin if kept for 2 to 3 days at room temperature.
The ascorbic acid is an essential dietary nutrient necessary for various biological functions. Below physiological conditions, it is crucial in biosynthesis of collagen through facilitating hydroxylation of proline & lysine residues by allowing proper intracellular folding of pro-collagen for export and also deposition as mature collagen. It deliver as a co-factor in various vital hydroxylation reactions such as biosynthesis of catecholamines, cholesterol, L-carnitine, amino acids or some peptide hormones. It is an antioxidant which maintains connective tissue protein collagen, helps iron absorption and protects against infection. This water soluble vitamin is required for forming collagen in the bones, muscles, cartilage and blood vessels. Fruits and vegetables are considered to be the dietary sources of Vitamin C. Being an antioxidant, Vitamin C helps to protect cells from damage made by free radicals which are the compounds formed when bodies convert food into energy. People become exposed to free radicals from air pollution, cigarette smoke and ultraviolet lights.
What are food and supplement sources of Vitamin C?
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How much Vitamin C is absorbed?
Vitamin C is well absorbed from our digestive tract when consumed in dietary amounts. As we increase amount of vitamin C, the efficiency of absorption decreases. For example, a vitamin C intake of 180 milligrams (two times the RDA for an adult man) is about 80 to 90 percent absorbed, while for an intake approximating 5 grams, only about one quarter is absorbed. However, 25 percent absorption of 5 gram is still about 1.2 gram of vitamin C. Excessive vitamin C will be immediately removed from the body in the urine.
How much Vitamin C do we need?
For men and women, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of intake of Vitamin C is 90 and 75 milligrams, respectively. RDA increases during pregnancy and lactation to 85 and 120 milligrams for adult women.Vitamin C in this level provides good blood and organ. For healthy adults, nutritionists recommend an intake of 400 milligrams to ensure that the optimal levels in the blood and cells.
Where is Vitamin C found in our body?
Vitamin C is found in most of the tissue throughout the body with greater concentrations in the heart, brain, adrenal glands, pancreas, thymus and lungs. Two of the most vitamin C-dense regions in the body are the pituitary gland and the lens of the eye. Vitamin C status in the body is typically assessed by measuring serum levels as well as the level of white blood cells. The former is more reflective of recent dietary intake while the latter is a better indicator of tissue stores. As vitamin C circulates in the blood it is vulnerable to kidney filtration and subsequent loss in the urine either as ascorbic acid or derivatives (metabolites) such as oxalates.
What happens if we don’t get enough Vitamin C?
Inadequate consumption of fruits and vegetable (sources of vitamin C) and smoking lowers vitamin C status in the body. It could reduce antioxidant protection and over time, it could reduce efficiency of other vitamin C roles in the body. Meantime, true vitamin C deficiency syndrome known as scurvy. For adults, scurvy appears approximately 1 to 3 months after discontinuing to consume vitamin C. Medical signs and symptoms incorporates impaired wound healing, edema, swollen & bleeding gums with tooth loss, lethargy, fatigue and joint pain. The infants who are not breast-fed, deficiency occurs at around 6 months of age when vitamin C stores transferred from mother during pregnancy have been used up. This syndrome shows signs such as abnormal bone character and development, anemia, severe joint pain, and fever. The abnormalities in bone are associated to vitamin C’s involvement in proper manufacturing of collagen.
What happens if too much Vitamin C is consumed?
The increase in vitamin C intake through the use of supplements, some possible side effects and a practical issue should be taken into consideration. Discussed earlier, with the increase in intake of vitamin C intake, its absorption efficiency decreases. This still results in absorbing more vitamin C per day, but a proportionate increase in urinary loss of vitamin C and its metabolites also occurs. Moreover its excessive consumption causes gastrointestinal discomfort as it is an acid and also promote diarrhea.
Health Benefits of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is found to be helpful in preventing common cold, hypertension, scurvy, cancer, cataracts, slowing aging process, promote good mood, lower cholesterol level and supports healthy cardiovascular system, enhance immune system and prevent the chances of food and seasonal allergies. As vitamin C has various health benefits, it is regarded to be a powerful antioxidant.
Body needs to replenish minerals and vitamins through food. Vitamin deficiency could result serious illness and to incorporate foods into diet is essential. Diet rich in antioxidants and healthy lifestyle is crucial to eliminate the chances of diseases such as hypothyroidism, cancer and diabetes.
- Prevent colds
Vitamin C is an antioxidant and immune function potentiator which helps to lower the chances as well as severity of common cold. Research has shown that supplement of Vitamin C helps to lower the chances of colds and reduce its severity. The supplement of Vitamin C at the onset of symptoms helps to lower its severity.
- Prevent scurvy
Scurvy is a degenerative disease which affects development of tissue in the body. It also affects blood vessels, tissues and weakens bones. Before the discovery of supplements and advancement of modern science, most fishermen and sailors suffered from deficiency of Vitamin C as they did not access to fresh food which is responsible for diseases. Loss of hair, teeth and unhealthy nails are regarded as the symptoms of scurvy.
- Treat hypertension
Vitamin C stimulates adequate blood flow to the body. Since it is loaded with antioxidants, it maintains the blood pressure in check and prevents the chances of hypertension which is fatal to some instances and could cause the rupture or blockage of blood vessel. It is essential to promote the intake of Vitamin C by the patients of hypertension.
- Cure cataracts
Cataracts refer to the damage of blood vessels in eye and deficiency of nutrients in the body. Being a powerful antioxidant, it protects eye from degenerative macular diseases.
- Treatment of cancer
Antioxidants are the solution for preventing diseases such as cancer. Besides enhancement of immune system, it damages free radicals which are responsible for causing cancer and DNA cell damage.
- Slows aging process
Vitamin C is required for the production of collagen in the body. Collagen maintains elastic and supple skin as well as muscles even in old age. Vitamin C, being an antioxidant makes the body look younger externally and internally and slows appearance of signs of aging.
- Cardiovascular health
Studies have shown that high content of Vitamin C found in plasma helps to promote heart health and prevent being prone to cardiovascular ailments. It relaxes stressed arteries which facilitates blood flow and lowers the chances of heart attacks immediately.
- Healthy cholesterol level
LDL cholesterol also termed as bad cholesterol is associated to heart diseases and other diseases such as diabetes. Vitamin C regulates cholesterol level in the blood and stimulates cholesterol excretion from the body. Vitamin C also boost body’s metabolism and prevents cholesterol and fat storage in the body.
- Boost immunity
Immunity defense body against infections, harmful pathogens and viruses. With the use of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, body builds defense mechanism. Vitamin C is considered to be an essential vitamin required for strong immune system. The daily intake of Vitamin C helps the body to combat fatal and terminal illnesses.
- Helpful for allergies
Vitamin C is anti-allergenic which lowers histamine production responsible for allergic reactions. It keeps the body safe from food and seasonal allergies. Autoimmune disease is harmful form of an allergic reaction. Vitamin C is found to be helpful in treating this problem and also prevents it.