Probably the most popular vitamin, Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for humans (we need it to survive). Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C helps promote good health, healthy bones and more. Deficiency in Vitamin C is the main cause of the disease called scurvy, a major problem throughout history particularly in sea travel.
Although sea travellers eventually learned how to prevent scurvy (by eating onions, lemons and oranges), Vitamin C was not actually isolated until 1933. Other roles that Vitamin C plays in the human body is the synthesis of collagen, its role as an important component of blood vessels, and its role in brain function and the synthesis or neurotransmitters. Since its isolation and syntheticism in 1934, Vitamin C has been used to treat a plethora of ailments including cold symptoms, vasodilation, hypertension and even cancer. Vitamin C is also known for its antioxidant properties.
Vitamin C Benefits
There are almost too many benefits of Vitamin C to list here. Here is a list of some of the more popular benefits of Vitamin C:
• Cold Symptoms: People worldwide turn to vitamin C when they start feeling the effects of a cold. Vitamin C helps to reduce the severity of cold symptoms
• Collagen Production: Vitamin C plays a key role in the synthesis of collagen, which in turn helps in the production and healing skin, bones and ligaments.
• Antioxidant: Vitamin C is an antioxidant, and can help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. In this capacity, Vitamin C is widely used in studies on fighting cancer. As an antioxidant, Vitamin C can also help the body fight off many other ailments and diseases such as cataracts, high cholesterol, plaque formation and inadvertently the risk of heart disease and stroke.
• Blood Sugar: Vitamin C helps the body regulate its blood sugar levels.
• Parkinson’s disease: Many studies for the cure of Parkinson’s disease find that Vitamin C may play a key role in the cure for this disease.
• Other benefits: Vitamin C is also used to treat women with preeclampsia, male smokers with low sperm counts and various periodontal diseases.
Vitamin C Food Sources
There are so many fruit and vegetable sources of vitamin C, it’s impossible to list them all here. However, below is a general guide to common foods containing Vitamin C.
• Red and green sweet pepper
• Oranges and grapefruits
• Brussel sprouts
• Sweet potato
• Pod peas
Vitamin C Deficiency
The most common disease caused by a deficiency in Vitamin C is scurvy. Scurvy is fatal if untreated as the body requires Vitamin C for survival. Symptoms of scurvy (and Vitamin C deficiency) can include any of the following:
• pale skin
• sunken eyes
• loss of teeth and hair
• swollen gums
• internal bleeding
• easily bruised
• frequent infection
• slow healing of wounds
For prolonged Vitamin C deficiency, bones may be greatly affected by becoming weakened or brittle. Vitamin C deficiency is a major cause of osteoporosis. Bone growth can also be affected in children, causing bone malformation of chronic brittleness of the bones. The teeth are affected very similarly, with those symptoms accompanied by swollen bleeding gums which can lead to other periodontal diseases.
Recent studies have shown that vitamin C deficiencies may also play a role in the chances of getting cancer. Because Vitamin is an antioxidant (as are many vitamins), the body relies on its ability to stop cell deformation or death due to oxidization. In this way, Vitamin C deficiencies may make the body more susceptible to some forms of cancer.
Vitamin C Overdose
Contrary to what many people believe, you can overdose on Vitamin C. Some of the immediate symptoms associated with Vitamin C overdose include upset stomach, diarrhea, stomach cramping, flatulence and nausea. Prolonged intake of excessive amounts of Vitamin C has been shown to result in severe kidney stones. Severe back and joint pain has also been associated with Vitamin C overdosing. Symptoms of scurvy can actually appear if a regular high dose of Vitamin C is suddenly depleted. This is called rebound scurvy.
Vitamin C may be a ‘wonder drug’ when it comes to the common cold, but always be careful that you are not taking too much. Taking excess amounts of Vitamin C will provide more or quicker relief. Read the directions and take within reason.