Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is one of the most popular vitamins, which has a particularly important role in defending the body against free radicals and oxidative stress, the main cause of physiological aging.
An important function of vitamin C is assigned to the growth of collagen production, a essential protein which help maintain the health of tissues, ligaments, cartilage and tendons.
Numerous scientific studies attest to the benefits of an optimal intake of ascorbic acid, especially in preventing cancer, boosting the immune system, speeding up the healing process of skin, reduces the risk of cataracts and many other specific disorders occuring with age.
The benefits of vitamin C
- Reduces viral and bacterial infections, and also the symptoms of flu.
- Minimizes the effect of allergies
- It decreases elevated levels of histamine in the body
- Reduces joint inflammation and increases mobility
- Maintains the normal functioning of cardiac system
- Reduces the risk of thrombosis
- Regulates blood pressure
- Increases the rate of iron absorption from the intestine and maintains a normal concentration of iron in the body
- It stimulates the production of collagen
- Maintains normal glucose and cholesterol levels in the blood
- Protects cells against oxidative, physically and mentally stress.
Vitamin C is also known for its benefits in wellness: it helps to treat stretch marks and maintains skin elasticity by forming collagen. Vitamin C stops the action of free radicals which causes premature aging of cells, and tones the skin cells.
The ascorbic acid is useful in case of fatigue by having a tonic effect, and also in case of insomnia or anxiety, because it contributes to the synthesis of serotonin, a substance responsible for the states of calm and happiness.
It has an important role in stimulating the immune system, which increases the body’s resistence to viruses and bacteria and has the ability to reduce inflammation.
The deficiency of vitamin C occurs very frequently because, on the one hand the human body is not able to produce this vitamin, and must be taken from external sources, and on the other hand our body consumes huge amounts of vitamin C when subjected to stress, pollution and effort. For example, one single cigarette smoked causes the body to consume up to 25 mg of vitamin C, given that the daily requirement of this nutrient is 70-100 mg.
The deficiency of vitamin C is manifested through:
- bleeding gums
- susceptibility to viruses and infections
- lack of appetite
- digestive disorders
- mood swings
- slow wound healing
- lack of energy
- swollen painful joints
- disorders in the nervous and muscular system
- weakening blood vessels (including capillaries)
- difficulty breathing
- pain sensation inside the bones
- fluctuations in blood pressure
- increased cholesterol
- decreased stamina, fatigue
A serious problem attributed to vitamin C deficiency is the apparition of scurvy, a disease which particularly affected poorly nourished sailors until the end of the 18th century, characterized by anemia, bleeding gum, tooth loss and bleeding under the skin. Also the face skin becomes dry and pale, losing its brightness and freshness.
The excess of vitamin C (over 1000 mg daily) may cause indigestion (especially in case of increased sensitivity to acidity), kidney stones, nausea, dizziness, impaired immune system, and disturbances in the body’s ability to defend against free radicals.
The recommended daily dose of vitamin C is 60 – 100 mg for adults and 35-65 mg for children up to 14 years old. To smokers, it is recommended a minimum intake of 120 mg per day, because smoking and exposure to tobacco increases the risk of vitamin C deficiency.
The richest natural sources of vitamin C are:
- rose hips
- bell pepper
- Brussels sprouts
- citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, pomelos)
Did you know?
Acerola and rosehips are fruits with the highest content of vitamin C, with 40 times more vitamin than lemons and 10 times more vitamin C than black currants.
It is good to know that the administration of antibiotics reduces the absorption of vitamin C, that is why in that period it is recommended to consume this vitamin in larger quantities than usual.