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Vitamin C

What is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) assists the body in the production of collagen, a basic component of connective tissues. Collagen is an important structural element in blood vessel walls, gums, and bones, making it particularly important to those recovering from wounds and surgery.

Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant, scavenging potentially harmful molecules called free radicals. Although not firmly established by clinical trials, this antioxidant capacity may help boost immune function, protect against cancer, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration of the retina, and other chronic diseases. Vitamin C intake may be particularly helpful to smokers, as they are more likely to suffer from oxidative stress and cell damage that can deplete vitamin C. Vitamin C also enhances iron absorption.

Where can you get Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is obtainable from many types of fruits and vegetables. In dietary supplements, it typically is sold in the form of ascorbic acid, calcium ascorbate (Ester-C®), sodium ascorbate, or a combination of these forms.

Are some types of Orange Juice better than others?

The Journal of American Dietetic Association reports that frozen concentrates of orange juice contained significantly more vitamin C -- about 86 milligrams per cup vs. 27-65 milligrams in packaged ready to drink cartons.

Why does frozen orange juice contain more vitamin C?

The pasteurization and packaging processes destroy vitamin C. Also, once a container of any type was opened, vitamin C in both types of orange juice decreased by about 2 percent a day.

Vitamin C and Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a major risk factor in cardiovascular disease.  Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) has been shown to lower blood pressure and lower the risk of acquiring cardiovascular disease.  In clinical studies, persons with high bloodstream levels of vitamin C had blood pressures 5 to 10 percent lower than persons with low levels of vitamin C. Vitamin C is best effective when obtained naturally through citrus fruits and vegetables.

How does Vitamin C Help?

Vitamin C is a very important nutrient. Vitamin C may work against high blood pressure (hypertension), by protecting levels of nitric oxide, a natural chemical in the body that helps relax blood vessels. Vitamin C promotes healthy teeth and gums, helps in the absorption of iron, aids in the maintenance of normal connective tissue, and promotes wound healing. It also helps the body's immune system.

Vitamin C Deficiency

Lack of vitamin C can lead to a condition called scurvy, which causes muscle weakness, swollen and bleeding gums, loss of teeth, and bleeding under the skin, as well as tiredness and depression. Vitamin C deficiency also causes wounds to heal slowly.  

Individuals who are likely to be vitamin C deficient are people suffering from:

  • AIDS
  • Alcoholism
  • Burns
  • Cancer
  • Diarrhea (prolonged)
  • Fever (prolonged)
  • Infection (prolonged)
  • Intestinal diseases
  • Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
  • Stomach ulcer
  • Stress(continuing)
  • Surgical removal of stomach
  • Tuberculosis
  • Infants receiving unfortified formulas
  • Smokers
  • Patients using an artificial kidney (on hemodialysis)
  • Patients who undergo surgery
  • Individuals who are exposed to long periods of cold temperatures

Which foods have Vitamin C?

Foods that are rich in Vitamin C are broccoli, strawberries, citrus fruits, green peppers, brussels sprouts, honeydew, and cantaloupe.

Other benefits of Vitamin C

Large doses of vitamin C:

  • Will break down alcoholic substances more rapidly in the body. 
  • Lowers the risk of stroke. 
  • Aides in teeth and bone formation, bone fracture and wound healing.
  • Reduces the histamine levels in the body, which trigger allergy and asthma attacks. 
  • Increases resistance to infections and other diseases. Lowers blood sugar and insulin requirements.
  • Can reduce dangerous blood levels of lead, a condition that can harm neurological development in children.

Risks of too much Vitamin C

High doses can cause kidney stones, diarrhea and nausea.

Vitamin C Substance Interactions

The effect of vitamin C is decreased by aspirin, tobacco, barbiturates, mineral oil, oral contraceptives, salicylates, sulfa drugs and tetracyclines. Vitamin C will decrease the effect of Anti-cholinergics, oral anticoagulants and copper.

Good Information about Vitamin C

A study in the Journal of Epidemiology (May, 1992) was reported to show that people who have high blood levels of vitamin C live 6 years longer than those who have lower blood levels.

Maintain your Vitamin C

The body eliminates vitamin C in about 12 hours so distribute your intake throughout the day.

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