The next time you bite into a juicy slice of orange or enjoy a berry picking adventure, you will encounter the water-soluble vitamin responsible for a variety of growth and developmental processes within the body. Vitamin C boosts the immune system; aids in wound healing; helps out our connective tissue; and assists in the absorption of iron. The vitamin is also great at preventing and treating numerous medical woes.
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C belongs to the group of nutrients known as antioxidants, which aim to prevent the damaging effects associated with useless by-products of energy. When large amounts of these by-products (also known as free radicals) accumulate in the body, unwanted conditions begin to develop, including cancer, arthritis, and heart disease. Free radicals are also known to speed up the aging process. Vitamin C not only battles free radicals, but also combats toxic chemicals, such as cigarette smoke.
Humans need vitamin C in order to achieve normal growth patterns and repair damaged tissues in the body. The vitamin is required for the production of collagen, which is a protein responsible for the formation of skin, scar tissue, ligaments, and blood vessels. Without vitamin C, wounds would cease to properly heal. In order to enjoy strong bones and teeth, the vitamin is also needed for desired maintenance and repair.
Signs of Vitamin C Deficiency
When an individual is not getting enough vitamin C, a deficiency develops. The only way to receive a sufficient amount of this important antioxidant is to include ample amounts into a daily diet plan. Taking a supplement or multi-vitamin assists in obtaining a sufficient amount of vitamin C. Below you will find a few signs associated with vitamin C deficiency:
a) Blood Problems:
With a lack of sufficient vitamin C, individuals may suffer easy bruising, as well as possible nosebleeds. Anemia may also occur, which is characterized by a decrease in oxygen transfer to body tissues; excessive blood loss; blood cell destruction; and inefficient red blood cell production.
b) Skin Problems:
Vitamin C deficiency can cause skin to become rough, dry and scaly.
c) Oral Problems:
Not getting enough vitamin C in your diet may cause gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), and/or weakened tooth enamel.
d) Infections and Wounds:
Since vitamin C is needed for the repair of tissues and other parts of the body, a deficiency causes wounds to heal slower. The body’s ability to fight infection is also weakened.
e) Possible Weight Gain:
A vitamin C deficiency has been known to cause a decreased metabolic rate, which may lead to weight gain. The amount of energy that the body burns is also affected.
The severest form of vitamin C deficiency is called scurvy, which has become a rather rare condition. Today, scurvy affects older individuals, who suffer from malnourishment.
h) Additional Signs:
Along with dry and splitting hair, a deficiency in vitamin C may also cause swollen and painful joints.
When looking to increase the amount of vitamin C in your diet, there are plenty of fruits and vegetables to choose from. Green peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, leafy greens, potatoes, and cantaloupe all contain some of the highest amounts of vitamin C. Additional food sources to consider includes watermelon, blueberries, red peppers, cabbage, and pineapples.
A variety of factors ranging from growing conditions to food preparation contribute to the amount of vitamin C in food. These amounts vary from plant to plant. The soil, climate, plant species, harvest details, and method of preparation all influence vitamin C levels in food .
According to nutritionists and the government, the recommended daily dose of vitamin C varies with age. Below you will find the dosing suggestions for both male and female adults and children:
Babies (1 to 6 months): 30 mg
Babies (6 to 12 months): 35 mg
Children (1 to 3 years): 40 mg
Children (4 to 10 years): 45 mg
Children (11 to 14 years): 50 mg
Teenage Girls (15 to 18 years): 65 mg
Teenage Boys (15 to 18 years): 75 mg
Adult Females: 75 mg
Adult Males: 90 mg
Breastfeeding Women (First 6 months): 95 mg
Breastfeeding Women: (Second 6 months): 90 mg
As a rule of thumb, tobacco users should increase their vitamin C intake by 35 mg per day to compensate for the loss of antioxidants that smoking causes .
Prevention and Treatment Uses
Numerous people have reaped the benefits of adding a vitamin C supplement to their diet when they wish to prevent or treat various health conditions. Below are a few ailments that the vitamin has shown promise with, including the common cold and lead poisoning:
a) Colds and Flu:
Numerous studies have shown that vitamin C has the ability to reduce the duration and intensity of the common cold. Although, there hasn’t been substantial evidence that proves the vitamin can lessen the chances of getting sick, it has definitely proven itself as a great treatment accompaniment for battling cold symptoms. In clinical trials, high doses of vitamin C have proven more effective in treating children, who are suffering from colds.
Although there have been no sufficient clinical trials, a handful of physicians believe that vitamin C may help treat polio when taken in rather large doses.
c) Heart Disease:
When combined with amino acid lysine and nicotinic acid, some believe that vitamin C can help prevent heart-related diseases. This comes from a promising, patented preventive cure that has yet to undergo substantial testing and evaluation .
d) Lead Poisoning:
As a preventive measure, there is evidence that suggests the vitamin has the ability to thwart lead poisoning by removing toxic metals from the body.
The Canadian Medical Association printed in 2006 stated that intravenously taking vitamin C has the potential to slow down late-stage cancer.
Some medical professionals have encountered evidence that suggests vitamin C may help to prevent the formation of cataracts.
A successful vitamin C study conducted in 2006 revealed that the antioxidant might prove beneficial in treating behavioral issues in autistic children.
Possible Side Effects
Side effects from taking a vitamin C supplement are quite uncommon. Since the vitamin is water soluble, it is released from the body on a regular basis; meaning the body never stores it. However, high doses of vitamin C can cause an upset stomach and diarrhea, which tends to occur after taking more than 2,000 mg per day.