Vitamins are generally group of micro-elements required by the body in small concentration for the proper functioning of the body’s system. Vitamin c also known as ascorbic acid is one of those vitamins which cannot neither be produced in the body nor stored in the body. It is soluble in water and very indispensable in the diet as it is required for the production of collagen as well as aid the regeneration of worn out tissues. Some of these tissues include cartilages, ligaments, teeth, and walls of the blood vessels, bone tissues, linings of the digestive tracts, ligaments, and tendons. Vitamin C is also one of the vitamins that are anti-oxidants alongside with vitamins E, beta-carotene, and other micro nutrients gotten from plants. Vitamin c exhibits its anti-oxidant properties by preventing the detrimental oxidation of free radicals, which causes damage on the DNA molecules. They also block the accumulation of these free radicals in the body over a prolonged period of time, which have the capacity to affect the aging process and increase the risk of severe health conditions like cancer, arthritis, cardiovascular diseases. It is also implicated in the increase of absorption of Iron, thereby preventing the incidence of pernicious anemia in individuals.
Sources of vitamin C
Vitamin C can be obtained from dietary sources comprising mostly of fruits and vegetables like citrus fruits (tangerine, oranges, lemon, grapes), mangoes, red bell and green peppers, kiwi fruits, tomatoes , broccoli, dark green leafy vegetables, cauliflower, turnips, Brussels sprouts , winter squash, cantaloupe, cranberries, potatoes . Although most foods we eat are made of fruits and vegetables, however, during cooking about 30- 40% of vitamin C is destroyed. Other dietary sources of vitamin C apart from fruits and vegetables include vitamin C- fortified cereals, raw milk, the offal’s of liver and kidney.
Recommended Daily Intake
All over the world the daily requirements of vitamin C is dependent on the age and sex as well as the physiological state of an individuals. The WHO daily recommendations states that Children aged 1-10 years and 11-14 years require 30mg and 35mg of vitamin C per day respectively. While males aged 15– 18 years and adult males require at 75 mg and 90mg of vitamin respectively daily. Their female counterparts aged 15-18 and adults female scan consume 65mg and 75 mg of vitamin C per day. Pregnant and lactating women are advised to take up to 80-120 mg of vitamin C daily. Exceeding the recommended daily recommended intake of vitamin C have little or no side effects as the vitamin is water soluble and it is excreted out via urine . However taking vitamin C in large amounts like 2000mg could trigger intestinal upset and individuals suffering from kidney stones should consult their doctors before consuming such large amounts of vitamin C.
Health Benefits of Vitamin C
The health benefits conferred to the body as result of f vitamin C consumption are numerous. Here, are some important benefits of vitamin C to the body:
Minimizes the risk of high blood pressure
Those who take fruits and vegetables and other food rich in vegetables rarely suffer from high blood pressure. .This information was obtained from a research carried out on several populations over a long period of time. Vitamin C also serves as a mild form of treatment for those who are always at risk of high blood pressure.
Cancers like lung, breast, and skin, cervical other types can be prevented by regular intake of vitamin c. this is because of the antioxidant properties possessed by vitamin c which prevents the damage caused by free radicals when we are exposed to certain pollutants in our surroundings . Such pollutants range from cigarette smoke, ultraviolet rays and other prevalent toxins.
Vitamin C has been proven to reduce the effects of common cold. It has the capacity if taken regularly, not necessarily at the onset of a cold bout, to relief the discomfort caused due to common cold at least for a day.
The major cause of most heart diseases is the oxidative damage of free radicals on the heart cells. Since vitamin is an antioxidant vitamin it helps prevent this condition. Regular intake of vitamins has the same effects taking a walk has on the heart. It increases the flexibility of blood vessels increasing vasodilatation and decreases vasoconstriction of the blood vessels that is associated with some cardiovascular diseases. Hence it is a required vitamin for a healthy heart.
Hormone production and synthesis of neurotransmitters:
Vitamin C aids in the production of adrenal hormones. It is also associated with the conversion of some substances to brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that ensure the transport or transmission of impulses among nerve cells. It helps improve the overall performance of the nervous system as well as prevent certain psychiatric illness.
Other health benefits of vitamin C include prevention of the infections of the gallbladder, enhancement of control of blood sugar levels and collagen production. It is also implicated in the prevention of age- related eye cataracts, serves as immune booster and gives relief to asthma and allergic patients.
Vitamin C Deficiency
The major manifestation of low levels of vitamin C in the body is Scurvy. Scurvy causes tiredness, inflammation of the gums. It could also present itself as small red or purple spots on the skin, delayed wound healing, cork screw hairs and persistent joint pains .other signs of scurvy includes lost or loosen teeth, bleeding gums as well as depression. Complications like anemia and even death could arise if not treated.
Regardless of the enormous benefits of vitamin C it is however not advisable to consume it when taking some drugs without consulting a physician. Some of these drugs include:
- Acetaminophen- vitamin C reduces the excretion of this drug via urine. Thereby increasing its concentration in the blood which is very unhealthy.
- Chemotherapy drugs – Researchers are divided as regards the effect of vitamin C on the chemotherapy regimen of treatment of cancer. Therefore it is important to see your oncologist on this issue.
Other pharmaceutical substances that could have possible interactions with vitamin C include oral contraceptives, barbiturates, aspirin, and tetracycline.
Vitamin C has been proven to be a vitamin you can’t do without. It is needed for the general well-being of the body system and its sources in diets are always abundant. Therefore, its deficiency as well as its aftermaths can always be avoided.