The vitamins information pages - Vitamin C
Description Vitamin C
Vitamin C is also referred to as ascorbic acid. It is essential for normal body functioning. Humans must obtain vitamin C trough their diet. Other mammals have the opportunity to produce their own vitamin C supply.
Functions of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is required for the synthesis of collagen, an important structural component of tendons, bones, teeth, blood vessels and muscles. The vitamin also synthesizes a neurotransmitter called norepinephrine. It also plays a role in the fat transport system of cells and cholesterol metabolism (prevention of gallstones). Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that assists the body in contesting viral infection, bacterial infections and toxicity. It protects carbohydrates, fats, proteins and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) from damage induced by free radicals and other reactive species. Vitamin C produces skin products to enhance skin vitality and it plays a role in wound healing. Vitamin C deficiency causes bruising, bleeding, skin and hair loss. These are all symptoms of a deficiency-induced potentially fatal skin disease called scurvy. The symptoms are all related to diminished levels of collagen in bones, blood vessels and connective tissue. Inhabitants of developing countries and people on very restricted diets are more likely to suffer from a vitamin C deficiency.
Vitamin C in food
Vitamin C is present in fresh fruit and vegetables and in fruit juice juices, (kiwi, Brussels sprouts, peppers).
Vitamin C as a supplement
Vitamin C is recommended to those that have skin and hair loss problems, slow-healing wound, infections and colds, congestive heart failure, high cholesterol, bleeding, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, angina or scurvy. People that smoke, drink or use contraceptive pills may benefits from additional vitamin C. Elderly people and people taking antibiotics may get prescriptions as well. Taking adequate amounts of vitamin C each day by eating sufficient amounts of fruit and vegetables may decrease the risk of cancer. Doses larger than 1000 mg may slow down the effects of lead poisoning.
Vitamin C enhances iron adsorption and regenerates other antioxidants, such as vitamin E. Over consumption of vitamin C may cause a vitamin B12 deficiency. Oestrogen contraceptives and frequent intake of aspirin can decrease blood vitamin C levels. Anticoagulant medication such as warfarin may be inhibited when a person takes large doses of vitamin C.
Cooking may destroy vitamin C pools in fruits and vegetables. Supplements containing bioflavonoids increase adsorption and availability of vitamin C. Smokers require a larger dietary intake of vitamin C than non-smokers, on account of oxidative stress in their body caused by toxins in cigarette smoke and generally lower blood levels.
Descriptions of vitamins on this website are based on information provided by BBC Health and The Linus Pauling Institute.