Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for health and is involved in many processes in the body.
It helps build and maintain bones, skin and blood vessels. Vitamin C is the only vitamin that does not come from the B complex that is soluble in water and is not stored in the body. To maintain an adequate level of vitamin C, we need a certain amount of food every day that contains it.
Its found naturally in some foods, especially in fruits and vegetables. It is also available as vitamin C tablets, powders and liquids.
Its also known as ascorbic acid, L-ascorbic acid and L-ascorbate.
Vitamin C plays an important role in a number of functions of the human body such as the production of collagen, L-carnitine and neurotransmitters.
It helps to metabolise proteins, and its antioxidant activity reduces the risk of certain diseases.
Collagen, the production of which contributes vitamin C, is the main component of connective tissue and the most abundant protein in the body.
It is an important component for fibrous tissues such as: skin, tendons, cartilage, bones, ligaments, corneas, etc.
We can say that our body needs vitamin C as much as water or air.
There is no maximum dose for the body. In general, it has no toxic potential or accumulation because vitamin C is soluble in water. Surplus is always excreted in the urine. But the effects of vitamin C are dose-dependent. The larger it is, the more visible the effects.
The only caveat is that people suffering from stomach ailments or ulcers should consult medication for the required dose and recommendations.
If the dose exceeds 1,000mg daily, you can experience diarrhoea or gastrointestinal discomfort. A high dose of vitamin C can also lead to kidney stones.
It’s important to know that the recommended daily dose differs depending on age and sex. Men should get a higher dose in general, 90 mg daily, while women should take 75mg daily. Pregnant women need a higher dose. The recommended intake for pregnant women is 85mg, while breastfeeding women should aim for 120mg.
Due to its powerful antioxidant effect, people who smoke can increase their dailt vitamin C dose by 35mg.
For children, vitamin C is indispensable because it is involved in the natural process of growth and development. In their case, the dose varies according to age and is between 25 mg for younger children and can go up to 75mg for adolescents.
Vit C sources
The main source of vitamin C is diet. A diet low in vitamin C can lead to more or less serious diseases. To avoid them and benefit from all the properties of this essential vitamin, it’s recommended to eat foods rich in vitamin C.
The best sources of vitamin C are fresh fruits and vegetables. This is because heat and boiling them can destroy their vitamin C content.
Great sources of vit C include:
- Red and green peppers
- Oranges – orange juice
- Spinach and other green leafy vegetables
- Green peas
Vitamin C benefits
- It is a powerful antioxidant and prevents the action of free radicals.
- It helps improve cardiovascular health. It can dilate blood vessels, which could help protect against heart disease and hypertension or hypotension.
- It can reduce cholesterol levels. Bad cholesterol levels tend to be lower in people who have an optimal level of vitamin C in the body.
- It stimulates collagen production.
- In cases of anaemia, vit C improves the absorption of iron in the body.
- It stimulates antibody production.
- It fights fatigue – the effects of vitamin C appear very quickly due to its soluble properties, ascorbic acid dissolves quickly in the blood and passes immediately into the body.
- It helps to regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
- It helps detoxify the body. Vitamin C helps the liver secrete an enzyme that cleanses the blood of toxins.
- Vitamin C slows down the natural ageing process and can even make ageing reversible by biochemically slowing down the function of white blood cells.
- It helps the proper functioning of internal organs.
- It contributes to the healing of wound.
Vitamin C deficiency
Lack of vitamin C primarily affects the body’s production of collagen, an essential protein found in most tissues. In addition, the most serious condition caused by a lack of vitamin C is scurvy.
Symptoms that may indicate you’re suffering from vitamin C deficiency include:
- Fatigue and weakness
- Muscle and joint pain
- Bleeding from the nose or gums
- Dry skin
- Hair fragility
Most commonly, vitamin C deficiency occurs in malnourished people. Severe and prolonged deficiency can lead to scurvy, a disease that is characterised by the appearance of clinical manifestations specific to hemorrhagic syndrome, with hypersecretion of dentin and osteoid.
However, vit C deficiency in the body and scurvy are not the same condition.
When we talk about vitamin C deficiency, we refer to the acute form of the disease. This is a deficiency that hasn’t occurred before and that can be easily corrected through supplementation.
When we talk about scurvy, we refer to the chronic form of the disease. This is a severe deficiency of vitamin C, with a long evolution that becomes chronic and can no longer be corrected.
Vitamin C intake
The Office for Dietary Supplements advise people to consume the following recommended daily allowances (RDA) of vitamin C:
- 0-6 months 40mg
- 7-12 months 50 mg
- 1-3 years 15 mg
- 4-8 years 25
- 9-13 years 45
- 14-18 years – male 75 / female 65
- 19+ years male 90 / female 75.
Additional intake is necessary during pregnancy and breastfeeding.