Why is Vitamin C Important – Benefits, Sources & Functions

Among vitamins, one of the most respected is definitely vitamin C. It participate in the development and rebuilding of connective tissue, absorption of iron from the gut, recovers defensive ability of white blood cells, increases the amount of antibodies and antioxidants in the liver, and participate in the removal of toxins and drugs that remain in the blood.

Why is Vitamin C Important

Vitamin C helps in prevention of colds and flu, and if the disease has already taken hold, it reduces side effects. In addition, it helps against excessive accumulation of cholesterol and even against the development of tumors.

There is no doubt that vitamin C (ascorbic acid), is indispensable in the human body – just as oxygen and water.

Prove of this is disease scurvy, a serious disease that has been well known among sailors. Because of their long voyages they could not eat fresh food with plenty of vitamin C, and this serious disease was one of the most common diseases for them.

English Doctor James Lind, around 1750 for the first time proved that lemon juice prevents the disease. Vitamin C is identified in the twenties of the last century, when the scientists in the anti scurvy substance in lemons and other fruits succeed to identify it. Doctor Albert Szent-Györgyi, after more than ten years of research on New York Mayo Clinic, in 1937 received the Nobel Prize for successfully identifying vitamin C and its role in metabolism in the human body.

What is vitamin C

Vitamin C (or ascorbic acid) is a water soluble vitamin, present in fruits and vegetables. It is one of the most studied and most described vitamins, and is the first synthesized vitamin. This vitamin has reduction properties and participates in many biological processes. It is important for the synthesis of collagen and carnitine, and fatty acid metabolism. It is among the strongest antioxidant vitamins that are soluble in water.

What does vitamin C do?

Destroy foreign bodies

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, stimulates production of interferon and inactivates viruses that cause polio, flu, measles, mumps and herpes. It attacks the nucleic acid of the virus and has the ability to penetrate the inactive cells and defeat viruses.

This vitamin is an antioxidant that fights bacteria until is completely destroyed, including those that can cause serious diseases such as tetanus, staphylococcus, tuberculosis and diphtheria.

Reduces chronic inflammation in the body

Vitamin C acts as an antihistamine and reduces inflammations caused by allergic reactions. It also relieves the symptoms of allergies. This vitamin increases the production of steroids which reduce inflammations in the body, and the result is a strong and resistant immune system.

It strengthens the connective tissue

Vitamin C plays an important role in the synthesis of new collagen tissues, such as connective tissue in the skin, muscles, ligaments and bones. As far this tissue is stronger, as far is more resistant to microbes.

Cancer cells emit harmful enzymes that destroy collagen and allow rapid spread of the cancer to other cells. However, if the tissue of collagen is strong, the cancer cells will not be able to do so much damage.

Increases the number of white blood cells

The white blood cells are essential for the immune system, and vitamin C increases their production. The more white blood cells you have, your immune system will be more prepared to fight any bacteria, germs and viruses.

Stimulates the production of antibodies

Vitamin E is known for its function to stimulate the production of antibodies when the body is exposed to bacteria. Vitamin C protects vitamin E and enhances its regeneration, which indirectly stimulates the production of antibodies.

Improve absorption of iron

The optimal level of iron in the blood is very important for a strong immune system. Unfortunately iron is often difficult to be absorbed into the body because of the numerous difficulties. On the other hand, there is vitamin C that allows the body to use iron which is entered with food.

Recommended daily dose of vitamin C

Depending on the age, recommended dose of vitamin C is between 36-60 mg daily. This dose is higher in pregnant women (70 mg daily), breastfeeding (within the first six months 95 mg, and after 90 mg daily) and smokers (100 mg daily).

Without prejudice can be entered 1000 mg of vitamin C daily, while some maintain that at doses greater than 250 mg a fraction retained in the body, and the rest is excreted through the urine.

Signs of vitamin C deficiency

Deficiency of vitamin C causes the body to become susceptible to infections, expressed veins, bruising, and bleeding tendency. Lack of this vitamin can rarely occur during physical activity and mental effort, during pregnancy and lactation, and in infections.

Can you overdose on vitamin C?

The health benefits of vitamin C are great, but too much vitamin C through supplements can lead to undesirable side effects like:

Headache

It is known that high doses of vitamin C may cause mild or even severe headaches. One dose of vitamin C of 6 g or more can cause migraines. Headaches may be associated with fatigue, dizziness, and nausea. Although these side effects may upset you, they occur at less than 1 percent of all cases.

If you acquire any of these symptoms, ask your doctor to reduce the dose of vitamin C!

Kidney stones

The kidneys filter out many of the excess chemicals and other waste products. Excess of vitamin C cannot be stored as a reserve and it is stored in the kidneys for excretion. High levels of vitamin C in the kidneys, along with other chemicals, cause the formation of kidney stones. These kidney stones can cause many symptoms, but in some cases they can cause blockage of urine flow. This can lead to kidney damage or increase the risk of urinary tract infections.

Gastrointestinal problems

Vitamin C is safe at doses less than 2000 mg, or 2 g, once daily. However, even patients who take 1000 mg of vitamin C daily may suffer from gastrointestinal side effects. Patients may complain of nausea or heartburn (acid in the stomach). It is possible to appear and stomach cramps or diarrhea after intake of vitamin C. Usually, these side effects are mild and transient, but if they continue or become severe, you should consult a doctor.

Foods high in vitamin C

Vitamin C does not maintain long in our body, so it should be entered daily. The richest sources of vitamin C are a variety of fruits and vegetables, and here is a table of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C:

Fruits rich in Vitamin C  Vitamin C in 100 g Vegetables rich in Vitamin C Vitamin C in 100 g
Pomegranate 2000 mg Red pepper 190 mg
Black currant 200 mg Parsley 130 mg
Kiwi 90 mg Broccoli 90 mg
Red currant 80 mg Cauliflower 40 mg
Papaya 60 mg Spinach 30 mg
Strawberries 60 mg Kale 30 mg
Orange 50 mg Potatoes 20 mg
Lemon 40 mg Tomatoes 10 mg
Melon 40 mg Carrots 9 mg
Grapefruit 30 mg Beetroot 5 mg
Raspberry 30 mg Lettuce 4 mg
Tangerine 30 mg Cucumber 3 mg
Lime 20 mg Eggplant 2 mg
Mango 20 mg
Blueberries 10 mg
Pineapple 10 mg
Grapes 10 mg
Apricots 10 mg
Plums 10 mg
Watermelon 10 mg
Bananas 9 mg
Avocado 8 mg
Cherry 7 mg
Peach 7 mg
Apple 6 mg
Blackberry 6 mg
Pear 4 mg
Figs 2 mg

Vitamin C easily loses its value in the process of cooking. It is not very durable nor at high nor at low temperature. Fruits and vegetables cooked 10-20 minutes waste half of the vitamin C that it contains.

Health benefits of vitamin C

Treatment of allergies and asthma. Vitamin C has on the surface of the respiratory tract, so reduced concentrations of vitamin C are associated with bronchial constriction and reduced lung function. Some studies, although insufficient, have linked vitamin C supplements with ease the symptoms of asthma.

Prevention of cancer. Vitamin C is a known antioxidant and is associated with a reduced risk of cancer of the stomach, lung, colon and prostate.

Prevention of cataracts. Studies have shown that supplements of vitamin C significantly reduces the risk of developing cataracts, especially in women. According to a 2002 report, adequate intake of vitamin C in women older than 60 years reduced the risk of developing Cataract by 57%.

Production of collagen. Vitamin C participates in the synthesis of collagen, a protein that binds cells of connective tissue. Collagen is important for the formation of cartilage, ligaments, cornea and other tissues and structures. It is also considered that vitamin C accelerates healing of wounds and injuries because of this role in the production of collagen.

Prevention of disease of the gallbladder. According to a study by 13,000 respondents, women’s who took daily supplements of vitamin C had a 34% lower risk of developing gallstones, as opposed to those who did not take vitamin C.

Strengthening of the immune system. Vitamin C increases the production of white blood cells and is important for proper functioning of the immune system. Low concentrations of vitamin C are associated with an increased risk of infections. Therefore vitamin C is often prescribed for HIV positive people to protect against infection.

Neurotransmitters and hormones. Vitamin C is important in the conversion of some substances in neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which are important for the proper functioning of the nervous system. It participates in the production of hormones of the adrenal gland.

Respiratory system. High doses of vitamin C can alleviate the symptoms of cold and reduce its duration. It is associated with improved lung function and respiratory system in general.

Prevention of heart disease. Some studies show that vitamin C lowers total cholesterol and LDL while increasing HDL thus preventing heart disease. The antioxidant properties may be related to the protection of the wall of the arteries in patients with coronary artery disease. On the other hand, according to some studies, taking higher doses (500 mg daily), thickens the arterial walls and actually increases the risk of heart diseases. This is due to the role of vitamin C in the production of collagen. Therefore, further investigations are needed to accurately determine the risks and benefits of vitamin C supplements. For now, patients with a history of heart disease should also avoid daily doses of vitamin C higher than 200 mg, because of the risk of thickening of the arteries.

Control of blood pressure. Providing 500 mg of vitamin C per day reduced the blood pressure in 39 subjects with hypertension. It is believed that vitamin C lowers blood pressure by aiding the function of nitrogen monoxide, a gas that is produced in the body and dilates blood vessels. Again, the recent findings that vitamin C thickens the wall of the arteries is contradictory to the previous and requires further investigations.

Treatment of cancer. Some scientists disagree with the use of vitamin C in cancer treatment. On the one hand, the tests showed that the tumor cells absorb vitamin C faster than healthy cells because they have lost the ability to transport vitamin. Radiation and chemotherapy, stimulate growth and oxidation of free radicals in order to stop the growth of tumor cells. Because vitamin C is an antioxidant that absorbs free radicals, some researchers believe that it may be counterproductive in the treatment of cancer. The exact impact of vitamin C in patients that undergoing chemotherapy is not fully understood, and some scientists believe that supplements of vitamin C in patients on such therapy should be avoided. On the other hand, according to another group of scientists, high doses of vitamin C protect healthy cells and inhibit the growth of tumor cells. According to them, healthy cells take only as much vitamin C they need, unlike tumor cells which continue to take vitamin C in excess, and cease to grow, but this is still not controlled in vivo clinical studies. Under current conducted clinical studies, cancer patients should avoid taking vitamin C supplements .

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