Vitamin C is maybe the most common vitamin. It is particularly known for its benefic properties during winter, to prevent symptoms of flu. But it is also helpful to treat and prevent many other problems. For example it is a powerful antioxidant agent, so it helps to prevent to formation of wrinkles, but also cellular damages caused by free radicals. It is found in many foods, in particular vegetables and fruits, but supplements are available in case of deficiencies.
What is Vitamin C
Vitamin C is also named ascorbate or ascorbic acid. It is very important for our body, because it is involved in many healthy functions. The form present in nature is an enantiomer of the ascorbic acid, named L-ascorbate. Its mirror image is the D-ascorbate, but it has no physiological importance, because it’s not present in nature. It is highly water soluble and it has acid properties.
Vitamin C is found in many foods. It is absorbed through the small intestine in association to sodium. So it enters the bloodstream, where it is transported with albumin in form of ascorbic acid and in a minimum amount oxidized as dehydroascorbic acid. So it is conveyed to tissues, in particular to the liver, where it is stored. The part free into the blood is on the contrary excreted through urines. Deposits of vitamin C are present not only in the liver, but also in adrenal glands.
Vitamin C benefits
The numerous healthy properties of vitamin C are very important to treat and prevent many conditions, for example:
- Helps to prevent scurvy
- Anti-aging effect
- Useful to heal bones problems and fractures
- Stimulates iron absorption, so it is helpful in case of anemia
- Strengthens immune system, helping to prevent cold and flu
Vitamin C and foods
Vitamin C is very important for our body. For this reason is essential to take a proper amount of this vitamin, to prevent symptoms and conditions associated to its deficiencies. It can be found in particular in vegetables and fruits, but also in foods of animal origin.
Foods with the higher amount of vitamin C are:
- Chili pepper
- Bell peppers
- Brussels sprouts
Vitamin C properties
Vitamin C is particularly known for its healthy properties on the immune system. In fact this miraculous substance is able to stimulates interferon production, that enhances the immune response. These aspects lead to the increase of white blood cells production and maturation, but also to an higher amount of antibodies.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant for cells and tissues. In fact it is a reducing acent in the redox reactions in the body. In particular it is able to give electrons to other molecules, forming dehydroascorbic acid. For this reason, cooperating with other important antioxidant elements, vitamin C is able to prevent and minimize the effects caused by oxidative stress on cells.
Vitamin C is also helpful for other conditions, for example:
- Allergic reactions: vitamin C is a powerful antihistamine agent, because it prevents the release of histamine.
- Collagen production: it is a coenzyme for reactions that leads to the production of collagen fibers
- Norepinephrine production: it stimulates the conversion of dopamine in norepinephrine
- Serotonin: it seems that vitamin C is also able to convert tryptophan in serotonin, a neurotransmitter essential for the nervous system
- Iron absorption: vitamin C can convert iron in the more absorbable forms. This aspect is particularly important for vegetarians, because iron present in vegetables is not easily absorbed by the body, and it needs to be converted in other forms, normally present in foods of animal origin.
- Copper absorption decrease: copper can cause many problems to the body; vitamin C reduces its absorption, preventing damages caused by this mineral
- Bile acids synthesis
Vitamin C side effect
Vitamin C food supplements are considered safe when taken in proper amounts. Excessive doses of the vitamin can cause many problems, as:
- Abdominal cramps
Vitamin C increases iron absorption, so an excessive intake of the vitamin can lead to conditions as hemocromatosis. There is also the possibility to develop kidney stones, for calcium oxalate storage.