Vitamin C Benefits
We all know that it’s important to have plenty of vitamins, whether through our diet or through supplementation. Vitamin C, however, is a water-soluble vitamin that the body does not store, and therefore must be replenished on a regular basis. In this article, we’ll discuss a bit more about Vitamin C and its importance for health.
A vitamin is an organic molecule that is an essential micronutrient that an organism needs in small quantities for the proper functioning of its metabolism. Most essential nutrients cannot be synthesized in the body, either at all or not in sufficient quantities, and therefore must be obtained through the diet.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Vitamins are a group of substances that are needed for normal cell function, growth, and development.”
Vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. Humans, unlike most animals, are unable to synthesize vitamin C endogenously, so it is essential for us to obtain it from our diet by consuming foods high in vitamin C.
What Does Vitamin C Do in the Body?
One of Nature’s Most Potent Antioxidants
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and plays a major role in reducing damage to body tissue and muscle caused by physical activity. Protecting the blood from free radical damage, vitamin C stabilizes the three most potent free radicals: superoxide, hydroxyl and singlet oxygen, as well as playing an important role in cell movement.
This vitamin is involved with so many of the body's metabolic and immune functions, that you always want to have a supply available in the body. Why? Because the amount available to the body, at any given time, is dependent on the oxidative stress due to pollution, diet, lifestyle issues, alcohol and tobacco; these will use up the available C and B vitamins immediately. This means that frequent ingestion of vitamin C will help to minimize cellular damage that occurs as a result of pollution and other environmental factors.
Vitamin C is required for the biosynthesis of collagen, L-carnitine, and certain neurotransmitters; vitamin C is also involved in protein metabolism. Collagen is an essential component of connective tissue, which plays a vital role in wound healing, skin health and skin elasticity. Collagen makes up 80% of the bodies protein, and cannot be synthesized without Vitamin C. This shows the importance of this amazing nutrient as a pre-cursor to collagen synthesis.
Vitamin C plays an important role in immune function and improves the absorption of nonheme iron, the form of iron present in plant-based foods. Insufficient vitamin C intake causes scurvy, which is characterized by fatigue or lassitude, widespread connective tissue weakness, and capillary fragility.
Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system. Vitamin C supports epithelial barrier function against pathogens and promotes the oxidant scavenging activity of the skin, thereby potentially protecting against environmental oxidative stress.
The total body content of vitamin C ranges from 300 mg (at near scurvy) to about 2 g. High levels of vitamin C are maintained in cells and tissues, and are highest in leukocytes (white blood cells), eyes, adrenal glands, pituitary gland, and brain. Relatively low levels of vitamin C are found in extracellular fluids, such as plasma, red blood cells, and saliva.
Best Sources of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is found in an abundance of plant foods including most fruits and vegetables. It is in especially high concentrations in citrus fruits. Vitamin C supplements also provide the body with its daily needs of Vitamin C for those that do not eat adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables regularly.
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for health. It is a powerful antioxidant that helps the body to reduce damage from oxidative stress. It is also essential for optimal immune function and for the synthesis of collagen in the body. Vitamin C can be obtained through many plant-based foods and supplements, though it is of notably high concentrations in citrus fruits.