Vitamin C, also known as Ascorbic acid, is the most popular and highly effective antioxidant. Vitamin C itself is oxidized and recycled for reuse in order to protect body substances, as well as food substances, from being oxidized. For instance, Vitamin C prevents iron in the intestines from being oxidized resulting in proper absorption of iron. Vitamin C also recycles the body’s vitamin E supply and protects blood components from oxidation. Its antioxidant properties also reduce the risk of damage to the body caused by toxic chemicals and pollution.
This water soluble vitamin also assists enzymes in their functions such as in the synthesis and maintenance of collagen in order for collagen to serve as a base for the connective tissues in the body such as the bones, tendons, ligaments, teeth and skin. Collagen is responsible for strengthening blood vessel walls and for scar tissue formation in order to heal wounds, mend fractures and prevent bruises.
In addition to being an antioxidant and an enzyme-assisting vitamin, Vitamin C also supports the immune system and improves the body’s defenses. Its antiviral properties protect the body against viral infections, decreasing the body’s susceptibility to colds, coughs and other respiratory infections.
Unlike the other vitamins such as Vitamin K and Vitamin E, Vitamin C cannot be made inside the body. This is why it is important to incorporate Vitamin C-rich foods in the diet. Excellent sources are vegetables such as parsley, broccoli, bok choy,cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, green pepper, and sweet red peppers. Deficiency of Vitamin C (or scurvy) may be due to poor intake of Vitamin C-rich foods from the diet or from cigarette smoking and second hand smoke exposures. Low Vitamin C intake of the body can result in poor wound healing, susceptibility and increased frequency of colds and respiratory infections, skin discolorations, dry and itchy skin, lung related conditions, joint diseases and bone fragility, loose teeth and weakened tooth enamel, bleeding gums, swollen ankles and wrists, and anemia.
As with other vitamins, it is considered high-risk if Vitamin C supplements are taken in excessive doses. High doses of Vitamin C is unsafe for individuals specifically those who have high amounts of iron in the body since Vitamin C already increases iron absorption. Effects such as formation of kidney stones, alteration of Vitamin E actions, and aggravation of gout symptoms may surface. The average daily value for Vitamin C intake is 60 mg/day.
Dr. James E. Carlson B.S.,D.O.,M.B.A.,J.D.
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