Vitamin C is a vital nutrient for health. It helps form and maintain bones, skin, and blood vessels. It is also an antioxidant.
Vitamin C occurs naturally in some foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C supplements are also available.
Other names for vitamin C include L-ascorbic acid, ascorbic acid, and L-ascorbate.
In this article, learn more about why we need vitamin C, how much we need, and where to find it.
Vitamin C is water soluble, and the body does not store it. To maintain adequate levels of vitamin C, people need to consume food that contains it every day.
The body needs vitamin C for various functions. Here are some of them:
- It helps the body produce collagen, L-carnitine, and some neurotransmitters.
- As an antioxidant, it helps remove unwanted substances known as reactive oxidative species (ROS) from the body.
- It helps the body absorb iron.
- It boosts the immune system.
- It enhances wound healing.
ROS are substances such as free radicals that result from natural bodily processes, exposure to pollution, and other factors. They can lead to oxidative stress, which can, in turn, cause cell damage.
Vitamin C’s antioxidant activity may help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of developing various conditions, including some cancers.
The body needs vitamin C to produce collagen. This is the main component of connective tissue and makes up 1–2% of muscle tissue.
Collagen is a vital component in fibrous tissues such as:
- the cornea
- the gut
- blood vessels
Low levels of vitamin C in the body can lead to scurvy. Symptoms of scurvy include swollen joints, bleeding gums and loose teeth, anemia, and tiredness.
The benefits of vitamin C may include the following.
Vitamin C helps the body produce collagen and is present in skin, muscle, and other tissues.
People with a low intake of vitamin C may experience slower wound healing, as their bodies will be less able to produce collagen.
During times of recovery, healthcare professionals
- have antioxidant properties
- help widen the blood vessels
- improve nitric oxide production
- help reduce plaque instability in atherosclerosis
This could help protect against heart diseaseand hypertension, or high blood pressure.
However, there is
Cataracts and age-related macular degeneration
Experts believe that oxidative stress may be a factor in both conditions, so any benefit may be due to vitamin C’s antioxidant activity.
After taking supplements for 4 months, the participants’ glucose levels and blood pressure improved, compared with taking a placebo. This suggests that vitamin C could, one day, be a treatment for diabetes.
Vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron, and some healthcare professionals recommend taking vitamin C supplements with iron tablets to improve absorption in people with iron deficiency anemia.
However, both groups saw similar increases in iron, suggesting that vitamin C supplementation is unnecessary for this purpose.
Air pollution consists of various substances and chemicals that can have a negative impact on people’s health.
During an allergic reaction, the immune system triggers an inflammatory response that can lead to symptoms such as swelling and hives. During this process, the body produces ROS, which can lead to oxidative stress.
They also found evidence to suggest that low vitamin C levels were common in people with allergies.