Vitamin C

Vitamin C

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Category : Nutrition & You

Awise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses. It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver. To every organism in the world, body is of utmost importance. Without a healthy body, you can do nothing even you are a millionaire. Therefore, we should always try our best to keep our bodies healthy. However, as the world is having a faster and faster pace of life, it is more and more difficult for us to have a healthy body. Junk food is flooding the food market and natural food is being put at the corner of the kitchen. There are many nutrients that play an important role in the maintenance our health. Vitamin C are the one from that list.

Vitamins are substances that your body needs to grow and develop normally. There are 13 vitamins your body needs. Here now we explain the role of Vitamin-C in our life.

Vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid is a watersoluble vitamin, and probably the most famous of all the vitamins. Even before its discovery in 1932, physicians recognized that there must be a compound in citrus fruits preventing scurvy, a disease that killed as many as 2 million sailors between 1500 and 1800. Later researchers discovered that man, other primates and the guinea pig depend on external sources to cover their vitamin C requirements. Most other animals are able to synthesize vitamin C from glucose and galactose in their body.

Functions
The most prominent role of vitamin C is its immune stimulating effect, which is important for the defense against infections such as common colds. It also acts as an inhibitor of histamine, a compound that is released during allergic reactions. As a powerful antioxidant it can neutralize harmful free radicals and aids in neutralizing pollutants and toxins. Thus it is able to prevent the formation of potentially carcinogenic nitrosamines in the stomach (due to consumption of nitrite-containing foods, such as smoked meat). Importantly, vitamin C is also able to regenerate other antioxidants such as vitamin E. Vitamin C is required for the synthesis of collagen, the intercellular “cement” substance which gives structure to muscles, vascular tissues, bones, tendons and ligaments. Due to these functions vitamin C, especially in combination with zinc, is important for the healing of wounds. Vitamin C contributes to the health of teeth and gums, preventing hemorrhaging and bleeding. It also improves the absorption of iron from the diet, and is needed for the metabolism of bile acids, which may have implications for blood cholesterol levels and gallstones. In addition, vitamin C plays an important role in the synthesis of several important peptide hormones and neurotransmitters and carnitine. Finally, vitamin C is also a crucial factor in the eye’s ability to deal with oxidative stress, and can delay the progression of advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and vision-loss in combination with other antioxidant vitamins and zinc.

Main Functions in nutshell:

  • Immune stimulation
  • Anti-allergic
  • Antioxidant
  • “Cement” for connective tissues
  • Wound healing
  • Teeth and gum health
  • Aids iron absorption
  • Eye Health

Dietary Sources
Vitamin C is widely distributed in fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits, blackcurrants, peppers, green vegetables (e.g. broccoli, Brussels sprouts), and fruits like strawberries, guava, mango and kiwi are particularly rich sources. On a quantity basis, the intake of potatoes, cabbage, spinach and tomatoes is also of importance. Depending on the season, one medium-sized glass of freshly pressed orange juice (i.e. 100 g) yields from 15 to 35 mg vitamin C.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)

The recommended daily intake of vitamin C varies according to age, sex, risk group and criteria applied in individual countries.

  • Deficiency

Early symptoms of vitamin C deficiency are very general and could also indicate other diseases. They include fatigue, lassitude, loss of appetite, drowsiness and insomnia, feeling run-down, irritability, low resistance to infections and petechiae (minor capillary bleeding). Severe vitamin C deficiency leads to scurvy, characterised by weakening of collagenous structures, resulting in widespread capillary bleeding. Infantile scurvy causes bone malformations. Bleeding gums and loosening of the teeth are usually the earliest signs of clinical deficiency. Haemorrhages under the skin cause extreme tenderness of extremities and pain during movement. If left untreated, gangrene and death may ensue.

The development of vitamin C deficiency can be caused by:

  • Stress and Excerise
  • Infections
  • Diabetes
  • Pregancy and loctation
  • Smoking

Disease Prevention and therapeutic use
Dozens of prospective studies suggest that vitamin C plays a role in preventing a variety of diseases. It is also used to treat certain diseases in orthomolecular medicine. As this nutrient is important for a variety of diseases, only a selection of them are presented here;

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) (heart disease and stoke)

Vitamin C may protect coronary arteries by reducing the build-up of plaque, as this helps to prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol), especially in combination with vitamin E. Some data has shown that vitamin C may also boost blood levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), which is also considered positive for the prevention of heart diseases.

Caner

The role of vitamin C in cancer prevention has been studied extensively, a number of studies have associated higher intakes of vitamin C with decreased incidence of cancers of the upper digestive tract, cervix, ovary, bladder, and colon.

Wound healing
During a postoperative period, or during healing of superficial wounds, supplemental vitamin C contributes to the prevention of infections and promotes skin repair.

Blood Pressure
Several studies have shown a blood pressure lowering effect of vitamin C supplementation at about 500 mg per day due to improved dilation of blood vessels.

Supplements and food fortification
Vitamin C is offered in conventional tablets, effervescent and chewable tablets, time-release tablets, syrups, powders, granules, capsules, drops and ampoules, either alone or in multivitamin-mineral preparations. Buffered vitamin C forms are less acidic, which can be an advantage in terms of preventing gastric irritation. Vitamin C can also be used in the form of injections (Rx). A number of fruit juices, fruit flavour drinks and breakfast cereals are enriched with vitamin C. On average in Europe, vitamin C supplements provide between 5.8% and 8.3% of total vitamin C intake

Uses in food technology
The food industry uses ascorbic acid as a natural antioxidant. This means that ascorbic acid, added to foodstuffs during processing or prior to packing, preserves colour, aroma and nutrient content. This use of ascorbic acid has nothing to do with its vitamin action. In meat processing, ascorbic acid makes it possible to reduce both the amount of added nitrite and the residual nitrite content in the product. The addition of ascorbic acid to fresh flour improves its baking qualities, thus saving the 4-8 weeks of maturation flour would normally have to undergo after milling.

The best way to get enough vitamins is to eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods. In some cases, you may need to take a daily multivitamin for optimal health. However, high doses of some vitamins can make you sick.