Vitamin C: Introduction Function & Dietary Sources
Vitamins are the organic compounds and essential nutrients that are required in a limited quantity by our body to function properly.The types of Vitamins are: Vitamin A, Vitamin B complex (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12), Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K.
What is a Vitamin C?
What is the function of Vitamin C in our body?
Vitamin C participates in and is necessary for many functions inside our body such as:
- Vitamin C is also known as Ascorbic acid or more precisely as L-Ascorbic acid.
- It is an essential dietary component, Humans cannot synthesize it inside their body, thus; must get it through the food which we eat.
- It is a Water soluble vitamin.
- It is commonly present in many vegetables & fruits and also available as a dietary supplement.
- When consumed in adequate amount 70-90% of Vitamin C from food is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract.
- Total body content of Vitamin C varies form 300mg- 2gm.
- Higher levels of Vitamin C are maintained inside cells and tissues such as White blood cells, Eyes, Adrenal Glands, Pituitary gland, Brain.
- Lower levels are found in Plasma, Red blood cells, and Saliva.
- Vitamin C is necessary for the synthesis of Collagen. Collagen (a protein) is a cementing substance and an essential component of connective tissues. It participates and plays an important role in wound healing. Thus vitamin C is necessary for wound healing.
- It participates in the biosynthesis of certain Neurotransmitters (Neurotransmitters are the chemical substances that are required to transmit signals between and across nerve cells).
- Vitamin C in an important physiological antioxidant. As an antioxidant it performs the following functions:
- Limits the damaging effects on the body due to free radicals/reactive oxygen species (Free radicals/reactive oxygen species are harmful chemicals/molecules formed when our body fights with different kinds of stress. People can also get exposed to free radicals in the environment from cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet light from the sun) on our cells and tissues.
- Prevents or delays certain Cancers.
- Prevents or delays Cardiovascular diseases.
- Protects against harmful effects/diseases due to Oxidative stress affecting Eyes, skin, etc.
- Protects against repetitive infections e.g. Common Cold.
How much intake of Vitamin C is necessary for an individual?
The recommended dietary intake of Vitamin C varies from individual to individual based on age, gender and other factors like pregnancy and lactation. The following table can easily guide us:
The Average daily level of intake sufficient to meet the requirements/ Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for Vitamin C:
What are the sources of Vitamin C?
- It helps in regeneration of other antioxidants like Tocopherol (Vitamin E).
- Vitamin C plays an important role in immune function. It protects against immune deficiency diseases as well as from diseases due to excess stimulation of immune system (Autoimmune diseases).
- It enhances the absorption iron (Non-Heme iron), especially iron form plant sources into the body, thus helps in prevention of Iron deficiency.
- Vitamin C is available naturally in many fruits and vegetables. We can get sufficient Vitamin C by eating these fruits and vegetables regularly in our diet. The Dietary sources of Vitamin C are:
- Fruits like:
- Sweet lemon (Mosambi)
- Gooseberry (Amla/Avala)
- Grapefruit (Papanas)
- Vegetables Like
- Sweet Potato
- Okra (Bhendi)
- Other than dietary sources there are many Nutritional supplements of vitamin C are also available. But Healthonics recommends that they should be consumed only under proper guidance and as per the advice of a Doctor (Physician).
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