Vitamin C – Ascorbic Acid – Involved in over 3000 processes in the body!
Vitamin C is probably one of the best known of our nutrients. It is rightly so as it has so many important functions within the body including keeping our immune system fighting fit. The best way to take in Vitamin C is through our diet, in a form that our body recognises and can process to extract what it needs. For example a large orange a day will provide you with a wonderfully sweet way to obtain a good amount of vitamin C, but to your body that orange represents an essential element of over 3000 biological processes in the body!
Vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid is water-soluble and cannot be stored in the body. It therefore needs to be taken in through our food on a daily basis. It is in fact the body’s most powerful water-soluble antioxidant and plays a vital role in protecting the body against oxidative damage from free radicals. It works by neutralising potentially harmful reactions in the water- based parts of our body such as the blood and within the fluids surrounding every cell.
Just some of the thousands of processes that Vitamin C is involved in to ensure we are healthy.
- It helps prevent harmful cholesterol (LDL) from free radical damage, which can lead to plaque forming on the inside of arteries, blocking them. The antioxidant action protects the health or the heart, the brain and many other bodily tissues.
- Vitamin C is an effective agent when it comes to boosting our immune systems. It works by increasing the production of our white blood cells that make up our defence system, in particular B and T cells. It also increases levels of interferon and antibody responses improving antibacterial and antiviral effects. The overall effect is improved resistance to infection and it may also reduce the duration of the symptoms of colds for example. It may do this by decreasing the blood levels of histamine, which has triggered the tissue inflammation and caused a runny nose. It has not been proven but certainly taking vitamin C in the form of fruit and vegetable juices is not going to be harmful. Another affect may be protective as it prevents oxidative damage to the cells and tissues that occur when cells are fighting off infection.
- This vitamin plays a role along with the B vitamins we have already covered in the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps determine our emotional well being.
- Collagen is the protein that forms the basis of our connective tissue that is the most abundant tissue in the body. It glues cells together, supports and protects our organs, blood vessels, joints and muscles and also forms a major part of our skin, tendons, ligaments, corneas of the eye, cartilage, teeth and bone. Collagen also promotes healing of wounds, fractures and bruises. It is the degeneration of our collagen that leads to external signs of ageing such as wrinkles and sagging skin. There is a similar affect internally that can lead to degenerative diseases such as arthritis. Vitamin C is vital for the manufacture of collagen and is why taking in healthy amounts in your diet can combat the signs of ageing.
- Our hormones require Vitamin C for the synthesis of hormones by the adrenal glands. These glands are situated above each kidney and are responsible for excreting the steroid hormones. The most important of these are aldosterone and cortisol. Cortisol regulates carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism. Aldosterone regulates water and salt balance in the body and the other steroid hormones, of which there are 30, help counteract allergies, inflammation and other metabolic processes that are absolutely essential to life.
- The cardiovascular system relies on Vitamin C that plays a role in cholesterol production in the liver and in the conversion of cholesterol into bile acids for excretion from the body. The vitamin also promotes normal total blood cholesterol and LDL (lousy cholesterol levels) and raises the levels of the more beneficial HDL (Healthy cholesterol) It supports healthy circulation and blood pressure, which in turn supports the heart.
- The other areas that Vitamin C has shown it might be helpful to the body is in the lungs reducing breathing difficulties and improving lung and white blood cell function. It is recommended that smokers take Vitamin C not just in their diet but also as supplementation. Exposure to cigarette smoke may severely deplete the presence of Vitamin C in the lungs leading to cell damage.
- Many studies are showing that Vitamin C can protect the health of the eye by possibly reducing ultra violet damage. The vitamin is very concentrated in the lenses of the normal eye which can contain up to 60 times more vitamin C than our blood. Damaged lenses appear to have a much lower amount of vitamin C which indicates that there is not sufficient to protect the lens from the effects of free radicals or support the enzymes in the lens that normally removed damaged cells.
- Research is ongoing with Vitamin C and certainly in the fight against cancer there are some interesting developments. As usual I will be covering the latest medical research of our featured vitamin and mineral.
- Vitamin C works as part of a team helping in various metabolic processes such as the absorption of iron, converting folic acid to an active state, protecting against the effects of toxic effects of cadmium, copper, cobalt and mercury (brain health).
One word of warning if you are on the contraceptive pill. Vitamin C in large supplemental doses can interfere with the absorption of the pill and reduce its effectiveness.
What are the signs of deficiency of Vitamin C?
A total deficiency is extremely rare in the western World. A total lack of the vitamin leads to scurvy, which was responsible for thousands of deaths at sea from the middle ages well into the 19th century.
Some voyages to the pacific resulted in a loss of as much as 75% of the crew. The symptoms were due to the degeneration of collagen that lead to broken blood vessels, bleeding gums, loose teeth, joint pains and dry scaly skin.
Other symptoms were weakness, fluid retention, depression and anaemia. You can link these symptoms back up to the benefits of vitamin C and understand how many parts and processes of the body this vitamin is involved in.
In a milder form a deficiency has also been linked to increased infections, male infertility, rheumatoid arthritis and gastrointestinal disorders.
Best Food Sources for Vitamin C.
The best food source of vitamin C is all fresh, raw fruit and vegetables. Avoid buying prepared peeled and cut vegetables and fruit, as they will have lost the majority of their vitamin C. If you prepare juices at home, always drink within a few hours preferably immediately. Do not boil fruit and vegetables, it is better to eat raw whenever possible preserving all their nutrient content, but at the very least only steam lightly.
Researchers believe that taking in adequate amounts of Vitamin C is the best private health insurance that you can take out.
The best food sources is of course fresh fruit and vegetables but the highest concentrations are in Blackcurrants, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cherries, grapefruit, guavas, kiwi fruit, lemons, oranges parsley, peppers, rosehip, potatoes, tomatoes and watercress.
©Sally Croninn Just Food for Health 1998-2018
A little bit about me nutritionally.
A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.
All available in Ebook from: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2
And Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6
Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4: http://www.moyhill.com/html/just_food_for_health.html
Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally
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