Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) Uses, Sources & Side Effects

Vitamins are compounds that your body needs for appropriate growth and development. Vitamin C has antioxidant properties. It is necessary for the health of your skin, bones, and connective tissue. It aids in the absorption of iron and promotes healing. Scurvy, or vitamin C deficiency, is an illness that is linked to socioeconomic level and dietary availability. Exogenous vitamin C is not required by the majority of animals. Vitamin C, on the other hand, is a necessary vitamin for humans.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) Uses, Sources & Side Effects

L-gluconolactone oxidase is a human enzyme that must be consumed. A mutation in the gene encoding L-gulonolactone oxidase resulted in the human body's inability to manufacture vitamin C. As a result, vitamin C must be consumed through the human diet in order for the body to function properly.

Vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that may be found naturally in some foods, added to others, and taken as a supplement. Because humans, unlike other animals, cannot generate vitamin C on their own, it is a necessary nutritional component.

Interesting facts about Vitamin C

  • Inadequate food intake has been a major cause of vitamin C insufficiency and related symptoms.
  • Vitamin C is naturally present in grapefruits, oranges, lemons, limes, potatoes, spinach, broccoli, red peppers, and tomatoes, among other fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Vegetables and fruits account for up to 90% of vitamin C consumption. The most common cause of insufficiency has been a lack of exposure to certain foods.
  • Furthermore, vitamin C is heat-sensitive, and its nutritional value has traditionally been lost during preparation (boiling or cooking).
  • If you stop taking vitamin C, your body's vitamin C pool will be exhausted in 4 to 12 weeks.
  • Vitamin C storage in the body is 1500 mg, and clinical symptoms of insufficiency appear after that amount is lowered.

Even in developed nations, vitamin C insufficiency is widespread, yet overt scurvy is uncommon. Infantile occurrence is also unusual, as both breast milk and reinforced formula are sufficient sources of nutrition. 
Without proper nutritional control, the following groups are at an elevated risk of vitamin C deficiency, which might lead to a diagnosis of scurvy.
  • Smokers
  • Infants who were given evaporated or boiling milk Dietary restrictions in children
  • Autism, developmental delays, and cerebral palsy in children
  • Sailors who have been at sea for months
  • Food scarcity in third-world nations
  • Low-wage workers.
  • Individuals suffering from malabsorption
  • People who have cancer
  • Chronically ill people, such as those with end-stage renal disease or who are on hemodialysis

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that may neutralize damaging free radicals and helps to manage infections and repair wounds. Collagen is a fibrous protein found in connective tissue that is woven across the body's many systems, including the nervous, immunological, bone, cartilage, blood, and others. The vitamin aids in the production of numerous hormones and chemical messengers that are important in the brain and nerves.

Food Sources of Vitamin C

The finest sources of this vitamin are fruits and vegetables.

  • Citrus fruit (oranges, kiwi, lemon, grapefruit)
  • peppers (bell)
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Cruciferous veggies are cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower)
  • Potatoes blanches

Vitamin C aids in the absorption of non-heme iron, which is abundant in leafy greens and other plant foods. Iron absorption can be aided by drinking a small glass of 100% fruit juice or eating a vitamin-C-rich item with meals.

Heat and light may both degrade vitamin C. Cooking at high temperatures or for lengthy periods of time might degrade the vitamin. Because the vitamin is water-soluble, it can seep into cooking liquids and be lost if the liquids are not consumed. 

Vitamin C is found in most multivitamins. Vitamin C can be taken alone or in combination with other nutrients as a dietary supplement. The most common type of vitamin C in dietary supplements is ascorbic acid, although some also contain sodium ascorbate, calcium ascorbate, various mineral ascorbates, and ascorbic acid with bioflavonoids. There is no evidence that one kind of vitamin C is superior to another. The vitamin can be preserved by utilizing quick heating methods or using as little water as possible while cooking, such as stir-frying or blanching. Raw foods at their height of maturity have the highest vitamin C.

What if I don't get enough vitamin C in my diet?

Scurvy can develop in people who consume little or no vitamin C (less than 10 mg per day) over several weeks. Fatigue, gum irritation, tiny red or purple patches on the skin, joint discomfort, poor wound healing, and corkscrew hairs are all symptoms of scurvy. Scurvy can also cause sadness, as well as swollen, bleeding gums and tooth loosening or loss. Anemia can occur in people who have scurvy. If untreated, scurvy can be lethal. Too much vitamin C can induce stomach cramps, diarrhea, and nausea. High amounts of vitamin C may exacerbate iron overload and harm bodily tissues in patients with hemochromatosis, a disorder in which the body stores too much iron.

There is some evidence that taking vitamins on a regular basis can shorten the length of a cold, but it does not appear to prevent infection. Supplementation has not been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, or dementia. It can be administered orally or intravenously. Vitamin C is well tolerated by the majority of people. Large dosages might induce stomach pain, headaches, sleeping problems, and skin flushing. Normal dosages are safe to use while pregnant. But it is advised against taking high amounts.

Citrus fruits, kiwifruit, guava, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, and strawberries are all high in vitamin C.

Recommended levels

Various governmental authorities have issued recommendations for adults' vitamin C intake:

India consumes 40 milligrammes per day. Hyderabad's National Institute of Nutrition

The World Health Organization recommends 45 milligrammes per day or 300 milligrammes per week.

The European Commission Council on Nutrition Labeling recommends 80 milligrammes per day.

Health Canada recommends 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women per day. 2007

United States National Academy of Sciences recommends 90 mg per day for men and 75 mg per day for women.

Japan's daily dose is 100 milligrammes. The National Institute of Health and Nutrition is a federal agency that studies health and nutrition.

European Food Safety Authority recommends 110 mg for men and 95 mg for women per day. 

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