One of the more well-known vitamins is Vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid.
This water soluble vitamin plays a role in many important bodily functions. Since it’s water soluble, what the body doesn’t use will pass out of the body in the urine.
While the official recommended daily allowances (60 mg per day for adults) are quite low, there are no known problems associated with an over-abundance of Vitamin C (you will know you have more than you can use if you start getting “loose stool”).
Probably the most important function of Vitamin C is its antioxidant effects. Oxidants are free radicals that, if not controlled, can significantly damage cells. Much in the same way that rust breaks down a car’s exterior, so too can free radicals damage the skin and other body parts.
Vitamin C is crucial to the body’s ability to produce collagen, an important protein that keeps skin damage minimal. Collagen can delay the development of wrinkles and saggy skin by helping skin hold onto its elasticity. Vitamin C also expedites the body’s ability to repair tissues so wounds heal more quickly.
Ascorbic acid is necessary for the process involved with metabolizing folic acid, iron, tyrosine and phenylalanine. The body cannot properly utilize carbohydrates without Vitamin C. It is also needed to synthesize fats and proteins.
Vitamin C can also help a person recover from the effects of a cold more quickly. It accomplishes this task by increasing the production of white blood cells and antibodies. And because it keeps the immune system strong, this vitamin can actually prevent a cold from developing.
Vitamin C strengthens artery walls, avoiding the development of (cholesterol) plaque build-up. It helps with the bone marrow’s ability to produce red blood cells and hemoglobin. And Vitamin C helps keep the nervous system healthy.
Studies investigating Ascorbic acid’s ability to slow down and possibly even prevent the formation of cataracts are ongoing and show promising results.
Sources of Vitamin C
Fruits contain plenty of vitamin C, especially organic oranges, tangerines, limes, guava, lemons, papayas, strawberries, black currants, grapefruit and mangoes. Many vegetables contain Vitamin C including collard greens, sweet and hot peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, brussels sprouts, cabbage, potatoes, kale, spinach, and watercress (organic produce is more likely to have received good soil nutrition).
To preserve more of the Vitamin C content, eat these fruits and vegetables raw or only slightly cooked. Steam and exposure to light break down this vitamin.
Symptoms of a Vitamin C Deficiency
The most famous of conditions associated with a Vitamin C deficiency is Scurvy, a condition that used to affect sailors who spent long periods at sea. Early symptoms of Scurvy affect the mouth area including gums that bleed and teeth that become loose. As it progresses, muscles become weak and joints become painful. In effect, scurvy kills by slowly bleeding you to death.
Other signs that the body may be experiencing a deficiency of Vitamin C include frequent infections, prolonged colds, easily bruised body parts, painful and/or swollen joints, nose bleeds, and anemia symptoms including tiredness and loss of skin color.
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