Benefits of Vitamin C, Sources and Deficiency


by Tom alter - Date: 2007-02-13 - Word Count: 763 Share This!

Vitamin C is a water-soluble, antioxidant vitamin. It is important for the formation of collagen - a protein that gives structure to bones, cartilage, muscle, and blood vessels. Vitamin C also aids in the absorption of iron, and helps maintain capillaries, bones, and teeth.

Vitamin C is also known as, ascorbic acid, L-ascorbic acid, the antiscorbutic vitamin, L-xyloascorbic acid. This vitamin is considered a cure-all for many diseases and problems - from cancer to common cold.
Yet, the interesting fact is that this miracle vitamin cannot be manufactured by the body, and needs to be ingested.

Benefits of Vitamin C -

« Vitamin C serves a predominantly protective role in the body.

« Vitamin C is required in the synthesis of collagen in connective tissue, steroid hormones, conversion of cholesterol to bile acids.

« It is a great antioxidant and helps protect the body against pollutants.

« It assists in the prevention of blood clotting and bruising, and strengthening the walls of the capillaries.

« As vitamin C is a biological reducing agent, it is also helps prevention of degenerative diseases - such as cataracts, certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases.

« Ascorbic acid promotes healthy cell development, proper calcium absorption, normal tissue growth and repair - such as healing of wounds and burns.

« Vitamin C is needed for healthy gums, to help protect against infection, helps reduce cholesterol level, high blood pressure and prevents arteriosclerosis.

What does deficiency of vitamin C lead to?

When there is a deficiency of vitamin C in the body, various problems can arise.
A shortage of vitamin C may result in hemorrhages under the skin and a tendency to bruise easily, poor wound healing, weakness, poor digestion, bleeding gums and loose teeth.
Low levels of vitamin C have been associated with a variety of conditions including hypertension, gallbladder disease, stroke, some cancers.

Edema (water retention) also takes place due to a shortage of vitamin C, along with painful joints, bronchial infection and colds.

Scurvy is the only disease that is treated with vitamin C.

Dosage

During the therapeutic use of this vitamin, the dosage is usually increased significantly, but the toxicity level must be kept in mind.

The average (Recommended dietary allowance) RDA is 60-80mg, per day.
For adolescents it is 80 mg, 75 mg for adults, 100 mg during pregnancy and 150 mg during lactation.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin C is 60 to 90 milligrams per day. Men should consume more vitamin C than women and individuals who smoke cigarettes are encouraged to consume 35 more mg of vitamin C than average adults. This is because smoking depletes vitamin C levels in the body and is a catalyst for biological processes, which damage cells.

What are deficiency symptoms of vitamin C in a person?

Symptoms of scurvy, the vitamin C deficiency disease include -

« Bleeding gums (gingivitis) and skin discolouration due to ruptured blood vessels.
« Poor wound healing.
« Weak immune function, including vulnerability to cold and other infections.

Sources of vitamin C -

Eating a variety of foods that contain vitamin C is the best way to get the required amount each day.

Healthy individuals who eat a balanced diet do not need Vitamin C supplements.
Since the body does not produce vitamin C, it must be obtained from fruits and vegetables. Some excellent sources of vitamin C are oranges, olives, guava, green peppers, watermelon, papaya, strawberry, kiwi fruit, mango, broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, and citrus juices or juices fortified with Vitamin C.

Amla or the Indian gooseberry is one of the richest sources of Vitamin C, whether fresh or the dried, powdered form.

Raw and cooked leafy greens (turnip, spinach), red and green peppers, fresh tomatoes, potatoes, pineapple are also rich sources of Vitamin C.
Vitamin C is sensitive to light, air, and heat, so it is best to eat fruits and vegetables raw, or minimally cooked in order to retain their full vitamin C content.

How to prepare and store foods to retain vitamin C -

Vitamin C can be lost from foods during preparation, cooking, or storage. To prevent loss of vitamin C:

· Serve fruits and vegetables raw whenever possible.

· Steam, boil, or cook foods in a very small amount of water, or microwave them for the shortest time possible.

· Cook potatoes in their skins. Be sure to wash off the dirt on the outside of the potato.

· Refrigerate prepared juices and store them for no more than two to three days.

· Store cut and raw fruits, vegetables in an airtight container and refrigerate - do not soak or store in water. Vitamin C gets dissolved in the water.
Consumption of vitamin C rich foods in their fresh, raw form is the best way to maximize vitamin C intake.


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