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What is Vitamin C?

Vitamins are essential nutrients needed by our bodies to function optimally. Most vitamins cannot be made by our bodies and so we need to include them in our diet. Vitamins are generally grouped by whether they are water soluble or fat soluble. Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is a water-soluble vitamin that was first isolated in 1923. While most plants and animals can make vitamin C, primates and humans can’t and therefore need it in their diet. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, green peppers, red peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, turnip, Indian gooseberry, and other leafy vegetables. There is more vitamin C in plant sources than animal sources in terms of diet.

 

Features of Vitamin C

Vitamin C or ascorbic acid can exist in an oxidized or reduced state, thus making it an important antioxidant in our bodies. Vitamin C is needed for a number of processes in our bodies involving protein, fat and iron metabolism. There has been a lot of research looking into the use of high doses of Vitamin C to treat everything from the common cold to cancer (1). Deficiency in Vitamin C is associated with conditions such as anemia, infections, bleeding gums, scurvy, poor wound healing, capillary hemorrhage, muscle degeneration, atherosclerotic plaques, and neurotic disturbances. The benefit of Vitamin C in being water soluble is that large doses can be taken to treat deficiencies and toxicity is rare as it is easily excreted from the body.  Reduced levels of Vitamin C is seen in cases of stress, high alcohol intake, smoking, fever, viral illnesses, antibiotic intake and pain killer intake.

 

Health benefits

Maintaining collagen in the body

Collagen represents one-third of the body’s protein. It constitutes protein of skin, bones, teeth, cartilage, tendons, blood vessels, heart valves, intervertebral discs, cornea, and eye lens. Vitamin C is involved in maintaining collagen in all these essential places (2, 3)

 

Synthesis of carnitine in muscle

Vitamin C is involved in the synthesis of carnitine (4, 5). Carnitine is required for the transport of long chain fatty acids to mitochondria for energy for cells. It may be involved in ensuring we have adequate energy levels.

 

Improving Liver function

Vitamin C is important in the transformation of cholesterol into bile acids in the liver (6). A deficiency can thus lead to cholesterol accumulation in the liver and gall stone formation (7, 8)

 

Scurvy

A deficiency of vitamin C can lead to scurvy. Early symptoms include weakness, feeling tired and soreness in the body. Without vitamin C for treatment, this can progress to a decreased amount of red blood cells, gum disease, changes in hair and bleeding.

 

Common cold

Vitamin C can prevent and provide some relief to the common cold. 1-3 g of vitamin C can prevent the common cold (9). Though there are some studies that challenge this. Larger doses seem to be more effective than smaller doses (10, 11).

 

Wound healing

There is some work suggesting Vitamin C may play a role in wound healing because of its connection to collagen processes (12, 13). Taking Vitamin C could improve the healing of any wounds.

 

Iron absorption

Vitamin C enhances the availability and absorption of iron from plant sources (14). Having vitamin C while ingesting iron can especially help vegetarians and vegans get enough iron.

 

Improving Fertility in men

While the precise role of vitamin C in relation to male reproduction is not as yet clear, it has been used in the management of male infertility (15). Higher amounts of vitamin C have been found in the seminal plasma of fertile men in comparison to infertile men (16, 17). The antioxidant activity of Vitamin C might protect sperm and testes from free radical damage.

 

Atherosclerosis

Vitamin C can induce a reduction in blood lipid levels in both normal and hypercholesteremic individuals (18, 19). It may reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (20, 21). Vitamin C protects against oxidative damage to LDL cholesterol through its antioxidant activity as well (22)

 

Cancer

High doses of Vitamin C may improve the survival of patients with terminal cancer (23-25). High intake of Vitamin C is linked to low risk in certain cancers including that of the esophagus, oral cavity, stomach, pancreas, cervix, rectum, and breast (26, 27).

 

Diabetes

A higher concentration of Vitamin C in plasma has been linked with a reduced risk of diabetes (28). The specific mechanisms involved have not been identified as yet.

 

Immunity

Vitamin C is involved in several processes involved in immunity (29). Vitamin C inhibits an overactive immune system while supporting general immune processes (30, 31). It also protects immune cells through its antioxidant activity.

 

Neurodegenerative disorders

There is some evidence to show that high doses of Vitamin C might improve the mental condition of schizophrenics (32). It does this through the antioxidant activity of vitamin C which protects against free radical damage in the brain. Oral supplementation with antipsychotics is a possible treatment for schizophrenia (33).

 

Dosage

Please use the dose of vitamin C that is recommended in the label for supplements. The daily recommended amounts are 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women. Higher doses to a certain extent can be taken as it is easily excreted by the body. Doses higher than 1800 mg per day could create problems with the kidney.

 

Precaution

Vitamin C is considered safe while following recommendations on the labels or by a doctor. In some people, vitamin C might cause nausea, vomiting, heartburn, stomach cramps, headache, and other side effects. This is especially true while taking higher doses of Vitamin C.  Higher doses to increase the risk of kidney problems including kidney stones. If you do experience any of these side effects, please stop taking vitamin C and see a doctor as necessary.

 

MapleLife Vitamin C

MapleLife provides high quality supplements at a fantastic reasonable price. They provide Vitamin C along with other vitamins for your daily needs. With all the benefits of vitamin C discussed in this article, it is clear that it is essential for your daily activities and overall health. If you are not eating enough fruits and vegetables to be getting enough vitamin C a day, it is highly recommended that you take Vitamin C supplements. As the excess from your body can be easily excreted, there is no harm in taking vitamin C supplements.

 

References

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