One of the more well-known vitamins is Vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid. This water-soluble vitamin plays a role in many important bodily functions. Since it is water-soluble, that which the body does not use is constantly being passed through the body via the urine. While there are no known problems associated with an over-abundance of Vitamin C, it is a good idea to stick within recommended daily allowances.
Probably the most important function of Vitamin C is its antioxidant effects. Oxidants are free radicals that if not controlled can significantly damage cells. Much in the same way that rust breaks down a car’s exterior, so too can free radicals damage the skin and other body parts.
Vitamin C is crucial to the body’s ability to produce collagen, an important protein that keeps skin damage minimal. Collagen can delay the development of wrinkles and saggy skin by helping skin hold onto its elasticity. Vitamin C also expedites the body’s ability to repair tissues so wounds heal more quickly.
Vitamin C is necessary for the process involved with metabolizing folic acid, iron, tyrosine and phenylalanine. The body cannot properly utilize carbohydrates without Vitamin C. It is also needed to synthesize fats and proteins.
Vitamin C can also help a person recover from the effects of a cold more quickly. Unlike what most people think, this vitamin cannot actually prevent a cold from developing, but it can alleviate the symptoms. It accomplishes this task by increasing the production of white blood cells and antibodies.
Vitamin C strengthens artery walls and makes them better able to resist the development of plaque build-up. It helps with the bone marrow’s ability to produce red blood cells and hemoglobin. And Vitamin C helps keep the nervous system healthy.
Studies investigating Vitamin C’s ability to slow down and possibly even prevent the formation of cataracts are ongoing and show promising results.
Vitamin C Sources
Fruits contain plenty of vitamin C, especially oranges, tangerines, limes, guava, lemons, papayas, strawberries, black currants, grapefruit and mangoes.
Many vegetables contain Vitamin C including collard greens, sweet and hot peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, cabbage, potatoes, kale, spinach, and watercress. To preserve more of the Vitamin C content, eat these fruits and vegetables raw or only slightly cooked. Steam and exposure to light break down this vitamin.
The recommended daily intake of Vitamin C in EU countries is 80 mg per day for adults while in the US, it is 60 mg per day.
Vitamin C Deficiency
The most famous of conditions associated with a Vitamin C deficiency is Scurvy, a condition that used to affect sailors who spent long periods at sea. Early symptoms of Scurvy affect the mouth area including gums that bleed and teeth that become loose. As it progresses, muscles become weak and joints become painful.
Other signs that the body may be experiencing a deficiency of Vitamin C include frequent infections, prolonged colds, easily bruised body parts, painful and/or swollen joints, nose bleeds, and anemia symptoms including tiredness and loss of skin color.