Vitamin C is a nutrient required in very small amounts to allow a range of essential metabolic reactions in the body. Vitamin C is principally known as a water-soluble anti-oxidant and has been found to prevent scurvy.
There's no question that vitamin C plays a role in controlling infections. It's also a powerful antioxidant that can neutralize harmful free radicals, and it helps make collagen, a tissue needed for healthy bones, teeth, gums, and blood vessels.
The Different Forms
Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is sold in capsules, tablets, powders and packets that fizz in water. Look for products without added colors, lactose or sugars. Vitamin C and bioflavonoids are synergistic, so consider a product that combines them. Virtually all vitamin C supplements are made from corn sugar. (If you are allergic to corn, try an alternative source such as sago palm.) Many vitamin C supplements also contain rose hips and acerola, both of which are fruits rich in vitamin C.
Vitamin C is needed to make two proteins, collagen and elastin, which literally hold our bodies together. Collagen forms part of our skin, cartilage and other connective tissues, and elastin enables tissues to stretch. Vitamin C is also essential for fighting infections, as well as for neurotransmitter synthesis. And it plays an important role in neutralizing the dreaded free radicals, which can lead to premature aging.
Fruits: oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, tangerines, pears, bananas, melons, papayas, strawberries, mangos, blackberries, blueberries, kiwis, pineapples, watermelons, raspberries, cranberries, cantaloupes, rose hips, acerola cherries.
Vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, green peppers, red peppers, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, squash, peas, turnips, turnip greens, onions, corn, pumpkins, carrots, parsley, sauerkraut.
Herbs: garlic, watercress.
Enemy of vitamin C
Antagonists that destroy this vitamin are air, heat, water as well as prolonged storage, overcooking and processing.
Antacids, alcohol, antidepressants, birth control pills and steroids will also deplete this vitamin.
Fruits and vegetables lose vitamin C quickly, especially when exposed to heat. For this reason, fruits and vegetables should not be cooked in water. Rather, they should be cooked over water--for example, in a double boiler. Pots should not contain copper. Copper can also destroy vitamin C. Canned foods generally preserve vitamin C until opened.
Recommended Daily Intake in Milligrams
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Infants from birth to 1 year: 30 to 35 mg
Babies 1 to 3 years: 40 mg
Children 4 to 10: 45 mg
Pregnant women: 75-90 mg
Lactating women: 75-90 mg
Smokers: 100 mg
Diabetics, elderly persons, patients suffering from stress or allergies: up to 200 mg
All others: 60 mg
Vitamin C deficiency….?
Severe vitamin C deficiency has been known for many centuries as the potentially fatal disease, scurvy. Symptoms of scurvy include bleeding and bruising easily, hair and tooth loss, joint pain and swelling. Such symptoms appear to be related to the weakening of blood vessels, connective tissue, and bone, which contain collagen.
Scurvy is rare in developed countries because it can be prevented by as little as 10 mg of vitamin C daily. However, recent cases have occurred in children and the elderly on very restricted diets.
Vitamin C versus Cancer
A large number of studies have shown that increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables is associated with a reduced risk Most have shown that higher intakes of vitamin C are associated with decreased incidence of cancers of the mouth, throat and vocal chords, esophagus, stomach, colon-rectum, and lung. A prospective study of 870 men over a period of 25 years found that those who consumed more than 83 mg of vitamin C daily had a striking 64% reduction in lung cancer compared with those who consumed less than 63 mg per day. A number of observational studies have found increased dietary vitamin C intake to be associated with decreased risk of stomach cancer, and laboratory experiments indicate that vitamin C inhibits the formation of carcinogenic compounds in the stomach.
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