Vitamin C is a popular and well-known vitamin that is known by almost everyone. Thinking of vitamin C brings the image of orange in the mind and a sour taste as that is considered the primary source of it. But the story of vitamin C is way beyond than just orange and sour taste. We want to tell you all the teeny tiny details of this vitamin that imparts some serious health benefits on our health. Let’s get started:
What Is Vitamin C?
Known by the generic name “Ascorbic Acid” Vitamin C is considered the most beneficial vitamin as it helps in many biological functions which include collagen synthesis, healing of wounds, and repair of cartilage, bones, and teeth. Apart from all these assists, vitamin C is an excellent antioxidant that neutralizes the free radicals that might damage the cells genetically. It is a great immunity booster and is a supreme defense against certain infections.
Having any kind of tooth disease, especially Scurvy, take vitamin C supplements or from natural sources.
Having a common cold and flu, consume citrus fruits as they are considered the potential aid in treating flu and cold.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin which in literal terms means it can be dissolved in the water and hence flush out of our systems via urine. Moreover, the sad news is our body does not make this vitamin naturally. So, in order to get the best out of this amazing vitamin, we have to obtain this beneficial and essential vitamin from the food sources like fruits and vegetables.
Before viewing the amazing benefits of this vitamin let’s have a glance into its history.
History Of Vitamin C
Deficiency of vitamin C dates back to European sailors when about 2 million sailors suffered from scurvy and because of this disease, in 1747, James Lind carried out a trial on various treatments for scurvy. He concluded that only lemons and oranges proved to be effective against scurvy. Later in 1928, Albert Szent Gyorgyi isolated a substance from adrenal glands and called it ‘Hexuronic Acid’. In 1932, Charles Glen King managed to isolate vitamin C in the laboratory and found that this vitamin C was similar to that of Hexuronic Acid. Afterward in 1933, Norman Haworth formulated its chemical structure and this formulation greatly helped in the production of vitamin C supplements on a large scale.
Food Sources Of Vitamin C
The amount of vitamin C in different foods are given below and is for 100 gm of fruit or vegetable:
- Guava: 228 mg/100 gm
- Capsicum: 128 mg/100 gm
- Kale: 120 mg/100 gm
- Broccoli: 90 mg/100 gm
- Brussel sprouts: 80 mg/100 gm
- Strawberry, papaya: 60 mg/100 gm
- Pineapple, cauliflower : 48 mg/100 gm
- Spinach: 30 mg/100 gm
- Cabbage, lime: 30 mg/100 gm
- Mango: 28 mg/100 gm
- Potato: 20 mg/100 gm
- Tomatoes: 14 mg/100 gm
- Onion: 7.4 mg/100 gm
Other than plant sources, this vitamin C is also found in animal sources also but in a very small proportion. Animal sources include:
- Raw chicken liver: 17.9 mg/100 gm
- Cow’s milk: 1.0 mg/100 gm
Recommended Dietary Allowances Of Vitamin C
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has concluded recommended dietary allowances for various nutrients and also for vitamin C. The following RDAs for vitamin C are for different age and gender groups, as well as these RDAs, should meet 97-98% of the nutritional need of the human body.
- 1-3 years: 15 mg
- 4-8 years: 25 mg
- 9-13 years: 45 mg
- 14-18 years: 65-75 mg
- Women (19+): 75 mg
- Men (19+): 90 mg
- Pregnant women: 85 mg
- Breastfeeding mothers: 120 mg
Benefits Of Vitamin C
Apart from scurvy treatment, vitamin C has numerous other benefits. Following are the tremendous advantages of this amazing nutrient:
1. Risk of Chronic Disease
Because of its antioxidant properties, vitamin C is a natural defense against many chronic diseases. Antioxidants protect cells from free radicals which can be harmful to the body and cause certain chronic diseases as well as oxidative stress up to 30%. The antioxidants present in vitamin C captures the toxic chemicals and pollutants which enter the body because of environmental factors and also keeps these free radicals in control so that they cannot affect the normal functioning of body organs. Because of this protective action, our body does not catch any chronic disease like arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, or even cancer.
2. Prevention of High Blood Pressure
Globally, now most people are facing high blood pressure which leads to cardiac arrest or brain hemorrhages or ultimately death. A small study conducted on 29 participants, concluded that vitamin C supplements have a relaxing effect on the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to all organs of the body. This blood vessel relaxing action helps in maintaining healthy blood pressure whether anyone is a patient with high blood pressure or not. Vitamin C supplements maintain both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in healthy adults. On average, if anyone is suffering from high blood pressure, vitamin C supplements reduce systolic blood pressure by 4.9 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 1.7 mm Hg.
3. Immunity booster
The ongoing pandemic COVID 19 has caused millions of deaths all around the world. Doctors and researchers have recommended keeping our immunity system at supreme so that we can be protected against this virus. They suggested taking vitamin C supplements because of the reason that vitamin C is the best immunity booster and strengthens our defense system naturally. Vitamin C aids in the protection of various infections by increasing the production of lymphocytes and phagocytes. Vitamin C also acts as a skin defense system because it directly travels to the skin and acts as an antioxidant that strengthens the skin against any skin related problems. Another study found that vitamin C fastens the healing process in case of any injury or surgery. It has been proved by a study that a person suffering from pneumonia might be deficient in vitamin C content in the body, and taking vitamin C supplements shortens the recovery time.
4. Uric Acid levels and Prevention in Gout Attacks:
A type of arthritis called Gout affects the joints and causes severe painful and inflamed joints. Gout is typical because of the high uric acid level within the body which is a waste material that our body produces and if this waste material exceeds the level, it crystallizes and gets deposited in the joints, causing swelling and severe attacks of pains. A study involved 1387 men and established the fact that people who are consuming vitamin C supplements on a daily basis, significantly have lower uric acid levels in the blood. A long-duration study conducted for the period of 20 years on 46,004 healthy men, found that those who are taking vitamin C supplements have a 44% lower risk of Gout development.
5. Age-related Macular Degeneration
A study carried out in 2001 by Archives of Ophthalmology, resulted that if people are taking 500 mg of vitamin C supplements per day, alongside beta carotene, vitamin E, and zinc, have a 25% low risk of developing age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) as well as reduced risk of certain types of cataracts. Vitamin C supplements reduce the danger of cataracts by 57%.
Though this vitamin is extremely beneficial for our body but an excess amount of this can be harmful and can cause adverse effects like:
- Stomach cramps
Over 200 mg of vitamin C is considered an excess limit of this vitamin and this amount can lead to some serious negative effects in our body especially kidneys. If a woman is pregnant, she should consume only 85-120 mg per day of vitamin C as more than this can cause harm to the newborn.
Diabetic patients should also be careful because these supplements can cause high blood sugar levels especially in older women. An overdose of vitamin C (>300mg/day) may lead to heart complications which may even cause death.
Vitamin C is one important vitamin crucial for the body. We must fulfill daily allowances from diet or supplements in order to avoid any chronic disease, gout attacks, and dementia risks. Vitamin C supplements are appreciable means to boost immunity, absorb iron, and strengthen our body’s defense mechanism. But besides all these advantages, moderate amounts of this vitamin should be consumed to save our bodies from adverse effects.