As well as protein, carbs, and fats, the human body needs vitamins and minerals to function properly. In short, our body’s growth and development is dependent on a list of factors out of which vitamins & minerals constitutes an important part.
Vitamin C is also known as L-ascorbic acid (C6H8O6) or ascorbate, is water soluble, sour in taste and is composed of a number of vitamins including ascorbic acid and its contributing salts as well as dehydroascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid & ascorbate (-ve charged ion of ascorbic acid) exist naturally in blood and have interchangeable properties based on pH. Ascorbate is required in carrying out important metabolism activities, and is not synthesized by the human body so it has to be consumed through food or supplementation. Vitamin C helps in healing capillaries and wounds and most animals produce ascorbic acid and ascorbate naturally.
What is Vitamin C Good For?
The benefits of Vitamin C were first discovered in the 1930s, and helped cure scurvy, which was a big problem for sailors at the time who were far from sources of fresh fruit and vegetables. Vitamin C also has many other benefits:
- Prevention of cardiovascular diseases: Ongoing research on Vitamin C have proven that consumption of Vitamin C has cardiovascular health benefits as Vitamin C regulates various cardio agents like Blood pressure as well as endothelial health.
- Improvement in respiration: A study at University of Helsinki, Finland has shown that consumption of Vitamin C reduces bronchoconstriction- a stage where the wind pipe starts getting narrowed and causes wheezing and breathlessness which if untreated turn into asthma.
- Regulates asthma symptoms: Vitamin C is an antihistamine as well as an antioxidant. Researchers have shown that daily consumption of 1000-2000 mcg of Vitamin C inhibits the production of histamines which are largely responsible for suffocation in asthmatic people.
- Reduces muscle soreness: British researchers gave a group of non-athletes a dosage of 200 mcg of Vitamin C twice daily. After 14 days, a 90 minute test was performed which proved that Vitamin C reduces muscle soreness & promotes better functioning muscles.
- Production of collagen: Our human body needs collagen- collagen is required to support tendons, blood vessels and the skin. The human body utilizes Vitamin C to produce collagen.
- Regulates blood glucose levels: Patients having diabetes have very less food choices. Diabetic patients are allowed to consume citrus fruits or vitamin C supplementation .Vitamin C sources don’t give jitters to diabetic people on consumption.
- Reduces chances of cataracts: Cataracts can be stopped if vitamin C is being consumed. Eyes need high amounts of Vitamin C .High amount of Vitamin C neutralizes the free radicals that the eyes receive while they are exposed to sunlight.
- Reduces inflammation in arthritis: Vitamin C is required in the production of collagens.Arthiritis is caused when the cellular processes that take care of maintenance and repair of cartilages collapse. Collagens are the building blocks for the repair of cartilages. When there is stress of the cartilages, collagen is destroyed. Intake of Vitamin C helps narrowing the gap and reduces inflammation in arthritis.
- May be beneficial in treating tuberculosis: A study published in Nature communication demoed that Vitamin C kills bacteria caused by tuberculosis. More researches are being carried out to prove the correctness of the fact.
- Beneficial to patients of Alzheimer’s disease: A German study has demonstrated that patients having Dementia (first level of neurological disorder that might lead to Alzheimer’s disease) have very low levels of Vitamin C. Supplementation with Vitamin C might inhibit the factors leading to serious nerve diseases.
- Skin issues: Vitamin C is beneficial for the glowing skin .Vitamin C constitutes an important element in various skin creams and moisturizers. Vitamin C works great on wrinkled skin.
- Builds up the immune system: Lack of studies unfortunately don’t hold up for this. Vitamin C is believed to work in conjunction with other micronutrients and build up a better immune system.
- Faster wound healing: Vitamin C helps body to build up collagen. Collagen repair broken muscle fibers. In case of wounds, whether small or big, Vitamin C intake is beneficial for faster healing.
- Stress regulation and fight or flight hormone generation: Stress can ruin everything and even muscles which you have hard earned. Vitamin C levels are required to produce stress hormones as well as adrenaline & nor-adrenaline which is a situation based hormone.
How much Vitamin C should I take?
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin C varies by age, as below.
Excess Vitamin C Consumption
Vitamin C has low toxic nature – excess Vitamin C consumed is expelled via the urine. It is recommended not to intake high volumes daily though.
Side Effects of Vitamin C
Vitamin C might possess very limited risks or side effects. These effects would only surface if it is over consumed or consumed under a certain medical condition.
- Pregnancy: High dosage of Vitamin C in the early months of pregnancy might lower progesterone levels. Progesterone is required for the womb development.
- Indigestion: Vitamin C shouldn’t be consumed on am empty stomach as can lead to indigestion.
- Headache, Nausea and rashes: A study was done where a certain age group people were given an excess of 6 g of Ascorbic Acid for around 1400 days. The high dosage induced signs of headache, vomiting and diarrhoea symptoms.
The point to be noticed is that over-consumption of Vitamin C for prolonged periods can have side effects.
- Angioplasty: Vitamin C should not be consumed for a certain time prior and post angioplasty as it is believed to interact with healing though the reason is still not clear.
Vitamin C Sources
Our body can’t produce Vitamin C so it has to be supplemented or consumed from food sources. Citrus foods like oranges, lemons, sweet lemons, and grapefruit pack great amounts of Vitamin C. Additional Vitamin C can be consumed through supplementation. Most of the multi-vitamins available do contain the recommended dosage of Vitamin C.