What is it?
Vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid is a water soluble vitamin. Unlike most animals (with the exception of guinea pigs!), humans cannot make vitamin C in their bodies which is why it must be present in the diet or supplemented.
What does it do?
- Vitamin C is used in the manufacture of collagen, one of the principle connective tissues in the body. So it is vital for maintaining health of all 'soft' structures in the body including blood vessels, skin, mucus membranes, cartilage, tendons etc. (Scurvy involves the gradual breakdown of connective tissue in the body which can be potentially fatal.)
- Vitamin C is particularly important in immune function because it increases antibody and white blood cell function. It also works to increase the activity of interferon (the bodies own antiviral compound), it also appears to exert similar effects to interferon which is to prevent viruses from entering cells. This may be why it is so effective at protecting against viral infection, especially the common cold.
- As it is water soluble it works as an antioxidant in the aqueous (or watery) areas inside and around cells. Its antioxidant activity is thought to be protective against almost all forms of cancer.
- Helps the body to cope with stress by supporting adrenal function. The adrenal glands (which sit on top of our kidneys) make and excrete the hormones which help us deal with stress, a process which uses vitamin C.
- Frequent colds and infections
- Bleeding gums or gum disease
- Nose bleeds
- Slow wound healing
- Serious and chronic deficiency of this vitamin can lead to Scurvy.
Recommended Daily Amount (RDA)
Therapeutic amounts are generally considered to be much higher than RDAs, often as high as several grams.
Mostly in fresh fruits and vegetables, especially peppers, watercress, brocolli, citrus fruits, kiwi fruits, tomatoes, parsley, brussel sprouts, spinach etc.
Vitamin C is very safe even in high doses.