Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin. While most animals are able to synthesize vitamin C in their body, humans do not have the ability to make their own vitamin C; it must be obtained through their diet. Low levels of vitamin C have been associated with a number of cardiovascular disorders, including heart disease, hypertension, stroke, and atherosclerosis, as well as some cancers. A sufficient vitamin C intake may help reduce the risk of developing some of these conditions.
A sufficient intake of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), is important as it helps the body to make collagen, an important protein in skin, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels grow and repair tissues heal wounds repair and maintain bones and teeth synthesize neurotransmitters block, some of the damage caused by free radicals by working as an antioxidant along with vitamin E, beta-carotene and many other plant-based nutrients. This damage can contribute to the aging process and the development of cancer, heart disease, and arthritis. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which provides scientific advice to assist policy makers, has confirmed that clear health benefits have been established for the dietary intake of vitamin C in contributing to: the protection of cell constituents from oxidative damage; normal collagen formation and the normal function of bones, teeth, cartilage, gums, skin and blood vessels; the increase of non-heme iron absorption; the normal function of the nervous system; a normal function of the immune system; normal energy-yielding metabolism; the maintenance of the normal function of the immune system during and after intense physical exercise; the regeneration of the reduced form of vitamin E; normal psychological functions; the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.
Low levels of vitamin C have been associated with a number of conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure (hypertension), stroke, some cancers, and atherosclerosis. A sufficient vitamin C intake may help reduce the risk of developing some of these conditions. Heart disease Results of scientific studies on whether vitamin C is helpful for preventing heart attack or stroke are mixed *. Vitamin C was not shown to lower cholesterol levels or to reduce the overall risk of heart attack, but some evidence suggests that it may help protect arteries against damage (atherosclerosis) by acting as an antioxidant. High blood pressure Population studies suggest that people who eat foods rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C, have a lower risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) than people who have poorer diets. Cancer Results of many population studies suggest that eating foods rich in vitamin C may be associated with lower rates of cancer, including lung, stomach and possibly breast cancer. As these foods also contain many beneficial micronutrients and antioxidants, not only vitamin C, it is impossible to say for certain that vitamin C is protecting against cancer *. Arthritis Vitamin C is essential for the body to make collagen, which is a part of normal cartilage. Cartilage is destroyed in osteoarthritis, putting pressure on bones and joints. Research suggests that free radicals may also be involved in the destruction of cartilage, and that antioxidants such as vitamin C may limit these damaging effects. There is some evidence that people who eat diets rich in vitamin C are less likely to be diagnosed with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Age-related eye diseases Vitamin C appears to work with other antioxidants, including beta-carotene and vitamin E, to protect the eyes against developing disorders such as cataracts and macular degeneration (AMD); the leading causes of legal blindness in people over 55. The people who seem to benefit are those with advanced age-related eye diseases. Other disorders Although the information is limited, studies suggest that vitamin C may also be helpful for boosting immune system functions, maintaining healthy gums, reducing effects of sun exposure (sunburn or redness), healing burns and wounds, reducing symptoms of exercise-induced asthma, and inhibiting the absorption of toxic lead.
Although serious deficiencies are rare in industrialized countries, some evidence suggests that many people may be mildly deficient in vitamin C. Smoking cigarettes lowers the amount of vitamin C in the body, so smokers are more at risk of deficiency. Signs of vitamin deficiency include dry and splitting hair, inflammation of the gums, bleeding gums, rough, dry, scaly skin, decreased wound-healing rate, easy bruising, nosebleeds, and a decreased ability to ward off infection. A severe form of vitamin C deficiency is known as scurvy.
Vitamin C is widely distributed in fruits and vegetables: citrus fruits: blackcurrants; peppers; green vegetables such as broccoli; Brussels sprouts, and fruits like strawberries, guava, mango and kiwi are particularly rich sources. Depending on the season, one medium-sized glass of freshly pressed orange juice (i.e., 100 g) yields from 15 to 35 mg vitamin C.