Vitamin C: A Complete Guide

Vitamin C: A Complete Guide

Whether you are looking to boost your immune system, improve your skin health, or simply want to ensure that you are getting enough Vitamin C. 

When you think of Vitamin C, you might immediately associate it with oranges and other citrus fruits. But did you know this essential nutrient is vital to your overall health and well-being? 

This guide contains everything you need to know about Vitamin C and how it can improve your health.

What is Vitamin C?

What is Vitamin C
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Vitamin C is one of the most potent substances on the planet. It has been effective in preventing or treating many ailments and diseases, including common colds, the flu, heart disease, arthritis, cancer, and many more.

Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. This essential vitamin is water-soluble and is naturally present in many fruits and vegetables. 

It is a potent antioxidant and serves several critical roles in the body. We need it to synthesize collagen, L-carnitine, some neurotransmitters, and protein metabolism. Because our body can not store vitamin C, one must take it through diet or dietary supplements.

Benefits of Vitamin C

Benefits of Vitamin C
Source: Canva

Vitamin C has a wide range of health benefits, making it an essential nutrient for overall health and well-being. Some of the key benefits of Vitamin C include:

1. Powerful antioxidant

Vitamin C’s potent antioxidant properties shield our healthy cells and organs from the harmful impact of oxidative stress and inflammation while enhancing the skin’s barrier function.

2. Support immunity

Vitamin C encourages the production of white blood cells, which fortify the immune system and safeguard the body against infections. 

3. Boost collagen production

The synthesis of collagen, a connective tissue that maintains the strength of our ligaments, tendons, joints, cartilage, blood vessels, and bones, necessitates the presence of Vitamin C.

4. Healthy heart

Healthy heart function has been linked to sufficient vitamin C intake. Several studies have indicated that individuals who consumed vitamin C supplements exhibited improved blood cholesterol levels and a reduced likelihood of developing heart diseases.

5. Promote iron absorption

To enhance the absorption of iron from the diet, individuals with iron deficiency should consider consuming iron-rich foods with sources of vitamin C. Research suggests that an intake of 100 mg of vitamin C may improve iron absorption by 67%.

6. Speed up wound healing

Individuals with a deficient vitamin C intake may encounter delayed wound healing, as the body cannot generate sufficient collagen.

7. Help reduce the uric acid level

Multiple studies have demonstrated that vitamin C can aid in eliminating excess uric acid from the body, thereby shielding against gout attacks.

8. Improve skin health

Vitamin C is essential for producing collagen, a protein essential for healthy skin, hair, and nails. It also helps to protect your skin from damage caused by the sun and other environmental stressors.

Potential Risks of Vitamin C Deficiency

Potential Risks of Vitamin C Deficiency
Source: Canva

Scurvy is a condition caused by a lack of vitamin C. Vitamin C deficiency is rare in developed countries, as many foods are fortified with this nutrient. The chances increase during the following conditions:

1. Smoking

Smoking poses a significant risk to vitamin C levels in the body. Tobacco smoke contains several chemicals that increase oxidative stress, leading to increased utilization of vitamin C in the body. 

As a result, individuals who smoke may experience a higher rate of vitamin C deficiency than non-smokers. Moreover, smoking can damage the tissues that store vitamin C, further reducing the levels of vitamin C in the body.

Therefore, smokers are advised to increase their vitamin C intake through dietary sources or supplements to combat the potential risks of vitamin C deficiency.

2. Inadequate diet

An insufficient intake of vitamin C in the diet can lead to a range of health risks. Vitamin C is essential for several bodily functions, including collagen synthesis, immune function, and antioxidant defense. 

A diet deficient in vitamin C can lead to weakened immunity, slow wound healing, and an increased risk of infections. Moreover, chronic vitamin C deficiency can cause scurvy, a severe condition characterized by fatigue, muscle weakness, and swollen gums. Individuals who consume a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables, which are rich sources of vitamin C, may be at a higher risk of vitamin C deficiency. 

Therefore, consuming a balanced diet that includes an adequate amount of vitamin C to maintain optimal health and prevent potential risks of vitamin C deficiency is crucial.

3. Health conditions like leaky gut and Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Leaky gut and Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS) are health conditions that can increase the risk of vitamin C deficiency. 

In leaky gut syndrome, the gut lining becomes permeable, allowing toxins and harmful substances to pass through, leading to inflammation and nutrient malabsorption. Vitamin C absorption can be compromised in individuals with leaky gut, leading to a deficiency. 

Similarly, in IBS, the inflammation of the intestinal lining can affect the absorption of vitamin C, leading to a deficiency. Vitamin C deficiency can worsen the symptoms of these conditions and lead to further complications. 

Therefore, individuals with leaky gut syndrome and IBS should ensure adequate vitamin C to prevent potential risks of vitamin C deficiency and support their gut health.

4. Substance abuse

Substance abuse can lead to several health risks, including the potential for vitamin C deficiency. Individuals who abuse drugs or alcohol may have a poor diet and inadequate nutrient intake, including vitamin C. Moreover, drugs such as cocaine and heroin can impair the absorption and utilization of vitamin C, leading to a deficiency. 

Vitamin C is vital for a healthy immune system and detoxification processes, and its deficiency can exacerbate the harmful effects of substance abuse on the body. Individuals who struggle with substance abuse should supplement their diet with vitamin C to prevent the potential risks of vitamin C deficiency and support their overall health and recovery.

Deficiency symptoms of Vitamin C

Deficiency symptoms of Vitamin C
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Vitamin C deficiency can cause a range of symptoms, including:

1. Bleeding gums

One of the common symptoms of vitamin C deficiency is bleeding gums. Vitamin C is necessary for collagen formation, which helps support healthy gums and blood vessels. A deficiency in vitamin C can weaken the blood vessels and cause them to break easily, leading to bleeding gums and other oral health issues.

2. Delayed wound healing

Delayed wound healing is another common symptom of vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C is necessary for collagen synthesis, critical for skin, bone, and tissue repair. A deficiency in vitamin C can lead to delayed wound healing and slow recovery from injuries.

3. Poor skin health and Skin rashes

Poor skin health and skin rashes are common symptoms of vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C plays a vital role in skin health, as it helps protect against UV damage, supports collagen synthesis, and promotes overall skin health. 

A deficiency in vitamin C can lead to dry, dull skin, rashes, and other skin problems.

4. Hair Fall

Hair fall and brittle nails are other symptoms of vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C plays a crucial role in hair growth and maintenance, and a deficiency can cause hair fall and dry, brittle nails.

5. Weakness and fatigue

Vitamin C is essential for energy production in the body, and a deficiency can lead to weakness, fatigue, and a general feeling of malaise. Vitamin C is also necessary for healthy blood vessels and can help prevent bruising.

6. Weak immune health

Weak immune health is another symptom of vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C is critical for a healthy immune system; a deficiency can increase the risk of infections, colds, and flu. 

5. Acne and Skin Rash 

Finally, acne and skin rash are other symptoms of vitamin C deficiency, which can occur due to the role of vitamin C in supporting overall skin health.

Vitamin C-rich Foods

Vitamin C-rich Foods
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Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that plays numerous roles in maintaining a healthy body. Fortunately, vitamin C is found in many delicious and nutritious foods, making it easy to get your daily dose.

Some of the vitamin C-rich foods that one must include in daily diet.

1. Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes are perhaps the most well-known sources of vitamin C. Just one medium-sized orange contains about 70 milligrams of vitamin C, more than the recommended daily intake for adults. Grapefruit, lemons, and limes are also rich in vitamin C, with about 38 milligrams, 30 milligrams, and 29 milligrams per fruit, respectively.

2. Kiwifruit

Kiwifruit is another fruit that is packed with vitamin C. One medium-sized kiwi contains about 64 milligrams of vitamin C, which is more than the recommended daily intake for most adults. Kiwifruit also contains other beneficial nutrients, including fiber and potassium.

3. Berries

Berries are a delicious and nutritious source of vitamin C. Strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are particularly rich in this vital nutrient, with about 98 milligrams, 32 milligrams, and 9 milligrams of vitamin C per cup, respectively. Berries are also rich in other antioxidants and beneficial compounds that can help to protect against chronic diseases.

4. Melons

Melons are another great source of vitamin C. Cantaloupe, in particular, is one of the richest sources of this nutrient, with about 97 milligrams of vitamin C per cup. Watermelon is also a good source of vitamin C, with about 12 milligrams per cup.

5. Pineapple

Pineapple is a tropical fruit rich in vitamin C, with about 79 milligrams per cup. It also contains bromelain, a digestive enzyme that can help to improve digestion and reduce inflammation in the body.

6. Mango

Mango is a delicious fruit rich in vitamin C, with about 60 milligrams per cup. It also contains other beneficial nutrients, including vitamin A and fiber.

7. Papaya

Papaya is another tropical fruit packed with vitamin C, with about 88 milligrams per cup. It also contains papain, a digestive enzyme that can help to improve digestion and reduce inflammation in the body.

8. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a versatile and delicious source of vitamin C, with about 16 milligrams per medium-sized tomato. They are also rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to have many health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.

9. Bell peppers

Bell peppers are a colorful and nutritious source of vitamin C, with about 95 milligrams per medium-sized pepper. They are also rich in other beneficial nutrients, including fiber, vitamin A, and potassium.

10. Broccoli

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable rich in vitamin C, with about 81 milligrams per cup. It is also a good source of other beneficial nutrients, including fiber, vitamin K, and folate.

11. Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts are another cruciferous vegetable rich in vitamin C, with about 75 milligrams per cup. They are also a good source of other beneficial nutrients, including fiber, vitamin K, and folate.

12. Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a versatile vegetable rich in vitamin C, with about 51 milligrams per cup. It is also a good source of other beneficial nutrients, including fiber and vitamin K.

13. Spinach

Spinach is a leafy green vegetable rich in vitamin C, with about 8 milligrams per cup. It is also a good source of other beneficial nutrients, including iron, vitamin A, and folate.

14. Kale

Kale is another leafy green vegetable packed with vitamin C, with about 20 milligrams per cup. It is also a good source of other beneficial nutrients, including fiber, vitamin A, and calcium.

Incorporating these vitamin C-rich foods into your diet can be easy and delicious. It is recommended that adults consume at least 75-90 milligrams of vitamin C per day, but some individuals may need more depending on their individual needs.

Are there any side effects of Vitamin C?

Are there any side effects of Vitamin C
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Common vitamin C side effects include abdominal discomfort, diarrhoea, nausea, and cramps. Since vitamin C enhances iron absorption, individuals with conditions that increase the risk of iron accumulation should be cautious with vitamin C supplements. 

Excess vitamin C intake can increase the amount of oxalate in the urine, thus increasing the risk of developing kidney stones. 

Vitamin C Dosage

Vitamin C Dosage
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According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the daily requirement of vitamin C differs for men and women. Men require 80 mg, while women require 65 mg of vitamin C daily. However, this requirement may increase during pregnancy and lactation. 

It is possible to fulfill this requirement through vitamin C supplements, although it’s important to note that while vitamin C toxicity is uncommon, it can result in mild effects.

Summing Up

Vitamin C: A Complete Guide
Source: Canva

To sum up, vitamin C is essentially required by our body. It possesses strong antioxidant properties and plays a significant role in controlling infections; maintaining healthy bones, skin, and cartilage. Therefore it is necessary to keep an adequate dietary intake of vitamin C. If you prefer taking vitamin C supplements, you should check with a healthcare professional to ensure they are safe.

How long does vitamin A stay in your system?

The liver stores vitamins and minerals for the times when they may be lacking in the diet. It can store enough vitamin A and vitamin B12 for four years, and enough vitamin D for four months.

What are the 3 main functions of vitamin C in the body?

It is used to:
Form an important protein used to make skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels.
Heal wounds and form scar tissue.
Repair and maintain cartilage, bones, and teeth.
Aid in the absorption of iron.

What are the functions of vitamin A and C?

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, has several important functions.
helping to protect cells and keeping them healthy.
maintaining healthy skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage.
helping with wound healing.

What is the daily recommendation for vitamin C?

RDA: The Recommended Dietary Allowance for adults 19 years and older is 90 mg daily for men and 75 mg for women. For pregnancy and lactation, the amount increases to 85 mg and 120 mg daily, respectively. Smoking can deplete vitamin C levels in the body, so an additional 35 mg beyond the RDA is suggested for smokers.

What can destroy vitamin A?

Fats which had been heated at such temperatures as are frequently used in cooking were found to destroy vitamin A to some extent.

What is vitamin A poisoning?

Vitamin A toxicity can be caused by ingesting high doses of vitamin A—acutely (usually accidentally by children) or chronically (eg, as megavitamin therapy or treatment for skin disorders). Acute toxicity causes rash, abdominal pain, increased intracranial pressure, and vomiting.

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