C is the Alphabet to Healthy Life
Vitamin C and also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin. Being water-soluble means that it dissolves in water and the body cannot store it. The excess amount of Vitamin C and other water-soluble vitamins leave the body through urine. Therefore your body needs a constant supply of Vitamin C in your diet.
Vitamin C is essential for the formation of collagen, which is an important protein used to make skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. Vitamin C is essential for the healing of wounds, and for the repair and maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth. It not only improves resistance to infection but (from a recent article I posted on 'Tea and Iron Absorption ') also aids the absorption of iron. Vitamin C is also a highly effective antioxidant that can protect your cells from damage by free radicals. Human is one of the few mammals that is unable to manufacture ascorbic acid in the liver and since the body is not able to store Vitamin C, it is therefore important to include plenty of vitamin C-containing foods in the daily diet.
Vitamin C Food Source
Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of Vitamin C. The foods that are very rich in Vitamin C include green peppers, citrus fruits and juices, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, turnip greens and other leafy greens, sweet and white potatoes, and cantaloupe. Being water-soluble and one of the least stable vitamins, cooking can destroy much of the Vitamin C content in food.
According to WHFoods, "Vitamin C is highly sensitive to air, water, and temperature. About 25% of the vitamin C in vegetables can be lost simply by blanching (boiling or steaming the food for a few minutes). This same degree of loss occurs in the freezing and unthawing of vegetables and fruits. Cooking of vegetables and fruits for longer periods of time (10-20 minutes) can result in a loss of over one half the total vitamin C content. When fruits and vegetables are canned and then reheated, only 1/3 of the original vitamin C content may be left. Consumption of vitamin C-rich foods in their fresh, raw form is the best way to maximize vitamin C intake."
Vitamin C Deficiency
Severe Vitamin C deficiency has been known for many centuries as the potentially fatal disease, scurvy. Scurvy is a condition characterized by general weakness, anemia, gum disease (gingivitis) and skin hemorrhages. Symptoms of scurvy include bleeding and bruising easily, hair and tooth loss, joint pain and swelling. A high percentages of sailors with the British navy and other fleets used to die from scurvy until James Lind discovered that the juice of lemons could cure and also prevent the disease. The ships then routinely carried limes for the sailors to consume daily, and thus these sailors became known as "limeys." Scurvy is now most frequently seen in older and malnourished adults. Scurvy is rare in developed countries because it can be prevented by as little as 10 mg of vitamin C daily.
Symptoms of Deficiency (according to MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: Vitamin C):
- Dry and splitting hair
- Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums)
- Bleeding gums
- Rough, dry, scaly skin
- Decreased wound-healing rate
- Easy bruising
- Weakened tooth enamel
- Swollen and painful joints
- Decreased ability to fight infection
- Possible weight gain because of slowed metabolism
Everything in life is about moderation. Just as a coin has two sides, a lot of things in life have their pro and cons. Vitamin C toxicity is very rare as the excess amount is easily excreted from the body when not needed.
According to WHFoods, "There are very few research studies that document vitamin C toxicity at any level of supplementation, and there are no documented toxicity effects whatsoever for vitamin C in relation to food and diet. At high supplemental doses involving 5 or more grams of vitamin C, diarrhea can result from the fluid in the intestine becoming too concentrated ("osmotic diarrhea")." They further discussed that large dosage of Vitamin C can increase levels of uric acid in the urine as Vitamin C can be broken down into uric acid.
According to Linus Pauling Institute, "A number of possible problems with very large doses of vitamin C have been suggested. However, none of these adverse health effects have been confirmed, and there is no reliable scientific evidence that large amounts of vitamin C (up to 10 grams/day in adults) are toxic or detrimental to health. With the latest RDA published in 2000, a tolerable upper intake level (UL) for vitamin C was set for the first time. A UL of 2 grams (2,000 milligrams) daily was recommended in order to prevent most adults from experiencing diarrhea and gastrointestinal disturbances. Such symptoms are not generally serious, especially if they resolve with temporary discontinuation or reduction of high-dose vitamin C supplementation."
One point to note, if you have health problems related to excess free iron in your cells, you may want to consider avoiding high supplemental doses of vitamin C.
The benefits of Vitamin C truly outweigh the detrimental effects it may have on your health - as long as you keep to the daily advise limit and according to your doctor advise. Wishing you great health always!
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