Vitamin C – The Antioxidant Vitamin You Must Have!
Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidant vitamins. Whether you want to protect your skin from the harmful effects of pollution or want to lose weight with a detox diet – Vitamin C is the solution. Moreover, vitamin C deficiency can cause scurvy, deteoriate skin and bone health among others. Read on as we discuss its different roles of in our body, food sources and much more!
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, also known as ascorbic acid. It has antioxidant properties and is also important for collagen formation in the body. Vitamin C, along with vitamin E and vitamin A, plays an important role in the defence against cellular damage caused by free radicals. There is some evidence that states this vitamin also acts as a cure for common colds.
Let’s have a look at the health benefits of vitamin C!
Functions as a Powerful Antioxidant
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. An antioxidant is a molecule that can inhibit the production of unstable and reactive molecules (free radicals) that damages the cell. Thus, due to its antioxidant properties protects the tissues of our body from oxidative stress, a condition that leads to the excess formation of free radicals. Excess free radicals in the body contribute to several health problems like cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases, skin diseases, cataract, and cancer.
Supports Collagen Production
It also acts as a cofactor in collagen formation. A cofactor is a molecule essential for the activity of an enzyme. It helps in the formation of connective tissues called collagen. Collagen acts as the foundation for the formation of bones and teeth. It helps to maintain the elasticity and strength of our skin. Collagen is also present in cartilage, blood vessels, ligaments, tendons, muscles, the cornea of the eye and the gastrointestinal tract.
It also acts as a cofactor in many critical biochemical functions and also in the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine.
Acts as an Immunity Booster
Vitamin C helps boost immunity by stimulating the production of white blood cells (WBCs) in the body. WBC are the immune cells that protect our body against foreign pathogens and infectious diseases.
Vitamin C deficiency
Vitamin C deficiency causes symptoms of scurvy such as fatigue, gum inflammation, scaly dry skin and loss of appetite. Inadequate collagen synthesis due to a lack of ascorbic acid can cause haemorrhages. Wounds fail to heal as scar tissue formation is affected.
Other symptoms of the deficiency are:
- heart muscle degeneration
- brittle bones
Certain psychological signs including hysteria and depression are also linked to vitamin C deficiency.
Vitamin C toxicity
The availability of vitamin C supplements and the possible benefits of it in curing a cold and cancer have led people to take it in large doses. However, since it has low toxicity it is not believed to cause any serious adverse effects at high intakes.
The side effects of excess supplementation are nausea, abdominal cramps, rashes, hot flashes, urinary tract problems and diarrhoea. Supplements adversely affect individuals with iron overload. Vitamin C enhances iron absorption and releases iron from the body’s reserves which causes cellular and tissue damage. The upper-level intake for adults is 2000mg/day.
Common Food sources
You can easily reduce the vitamin C content of food by prolonged storage as well as cooking. This is because heat degrades the chemical structure of the molecule.
Rich food sources include different fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes, citrus fruits, red and green peppers, kiwifruit, broccoli, strawberries and guava. Enriched grains and breakfast cereals are also a great source of this vitamin.
You should meet your daily intake of the vitamin by following a healthy diet that involves a variety of vegetables and fruits rich in vitamin C and other essential nutrients. Make sure you consult a doctor before adding vitamin supplements to your diet.
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for men is 90mg/day and for women is 75mg/day.