Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid): What it it? What Foods Have It? Benefits, Dosage and Side Effects.
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Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid and ascorbate, is a vitamin full of benefits found in various foods and sold as a dietary supplement, often used to prevent and treat scurvy. It is an essential nutrient involved in the repair of tissue and the enzymatic production of certain neurotransmitters. It is also important for immune system function. Vitamin C has also been used as an antioxidant.
This particular vitamin was discovered in 1912, isolated in 1928 and became the first one to be chemically-produced (or synthesized) in 1933. Shortly thereafter, Tadeus Reichstein succeeded in synthesizing vitamin C in bulk by what is now known as the Reichstein process (x), allowing manufacturers to mass-produce the product inexpensively. In 1934, Hoffman-La Roche trademarked synthetic vitamin C under the brand name Redoxon and began marketing it as a dietary supplement.
Of course, in more modern times, the term “vitamin C” conjures up visions of orange juice and chewable tablets, mainly for beefing up our immune systems. But how many of us take it as required and what can it do to improve our quality of life?
What is Vitamin C?
Naturally present in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement, vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is an essential dietary component because of the fact that humans, unlike most animals,cannot synthesize it endogenously. Over the years, vitamin C has been an important physiological antioxidant, and research shows its potential to regenerate other antioxidants within the body, including alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) (x).
Vitamin C is also known as L-ascorbic acid, and is considered an essential vitamin for a myriad of reasons. According to Erik Levi, a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner at HollisticNootropics.com, “Vitamin C works as a cofactor for many metabolic processes and is especially essential for many gut, brain, and adrenal related actions.”
Some people, before introducing vitamins into their daily schedules, will ask their physician or pharmacist, “Exactly what is a vitamin?” Put simply, a vitamin is both:
An organic compound, meaning it contains carbon
An essential nutrient that the body cannot produce enough of, and which it needs to obtain via food (x)
What Foods Have Vitamin C?
As we have covered already, the human body does not store natural vitamin C, so this nutrient must be obtained through an everyday diet. It is widely accepted that fruits and vegetables are the best food sources of vitamin C, and that patients may meet daily requirements by eating a variety of these healthful foods (x).
So if food is the source, what kind of foods boost the richest amounts of vitamin C?
Sweet red pepper (raw)
Sweet green pepper
Hot green chili pepper (raw)
Pink grapefruit juice
Some fortified breakfast cereals are also a source of vitamin C.
Furthermore, prolonged storage and cooking may reduce the amount of vitamin C in fruits and vegetables, as the nutrient is water-soluble and destroyed by heat.
What is Vitamin C Used For?
Vitamin C is required for tissue growth and repair in all parts of the body, and is often used to form an important protein used to make skin, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. It also heals wounds and forms scar tissue. Three of its most common uses include:
Immunity – Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system. Conversely, a vitamin C deficiency normally impairs immunity and increases susceptibility to infections.
Skin Health – What does vitamin C do for your skin? Its antioxidant properties and its role in collagen synthesis make it a vital molecule for skin health.
Wound Healing – Vitamin C is often aligned with wound healing because of its role in collagen formation. Clinical studies provide evidence that vitamin C may significantly accelerate wound-healing in subjects without a deficiency (x).