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Get acquainted with your nutrients - Vitamin C


Get acquainted with your nutrients – Vitamin C

Health and Nutrition

Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid and is a water-soluble vitamin and first isolated in 1923 by Hungarian biochemist and Nobel laureate Szent-Gyorgyi and synthesized by Howarth and Hirst.

Vitamin C is essential for a number of metabolic reactions. It is necessary for activation of folic acid, to convert cholesterol to bile acids, synthesis of serotonin from tryptophan, etc. Vitamin C is an important nutrient and is necessary to maintain normal physiological functions.

Vitamin C functions in the human bod

  1. Collagen (the connective tissue found in teeth and bone))
  2. Carnitine (It is needed to use long-chain fatty acids for energy)
  3. Norepinephrine (neuro-transmitter)
  4. Bile acids

Ascorbic acid has the ability to enhance the bioavailability and absorption of iron from non-heme iron sources. Therefore, it helps in preventing anaemia.

Vitamin C health benefits

Some of the health benefits attributed to vitamin C are





Prevents cold

Because of its antioxidant activity, vitamin C or ascorbic acid and its derivatives are very commonly used as preservatives in the food industry. Vitamin C has antihistamine characteristics and it also promotes the immune system.

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA)

The RDA of vitamin C for adult men and women is set at 75 mg/day for women and 90 mg/day for men. Human being and other primates cannot produce their own vitamin C because of the lack of enzyme gluconolactone oxidase. The most commonly used supplement in the world is the vitamin C supplement.

Vitamin C is readily absorbed from food since it is a water-soluble compound but is not stored in the body. It has to be supplied via diet every day. About 80 to 90 % of vitamin C is absorbed when about 100 mg of it is consumed. But when larger amounts of vitamin C is consumed the efficiency of absorption decreases.

Vitamin C Deficiency:

 Deficiency of this vitamin C develops slowly and leads to several health problems.

  1. Scurvy
  2. Anaemia
  3. Infections
  4. Poor wound healing
  5. Capillary haemorrhage
  6. Muscle degeneration
  7. Atherosclerotic plaques
  8. Neurotic disturbances.

Is Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant?

Vitamin C is an important dietary antioxidant and helps in scavenging free radicals from the body which may be the result of metabolic reactions in the body or because of environmental conditions for example pollution. As an antioxidant vitamin C helps in reducing the risk of heart problems and certain cancers.

Food sources

Foods that contain vitamin C include

  1. Fruits – oranges, lemons, guava, strawberries, blackberries, kiwi fruit, and papaya
  2. Vegetables – tomatoes, carrots, bell peppers, broccoli, potatoes, cabbage, and spinach

Ascorbic acid gets affected by heat and long storage time. Even though it is used as a preservative it is a sensitive molecule and cooking and processing reduce the amount of vitamin C in foods. Since vitamin C is heat-labile it is essential to include fresh fruit and vegetables in the diet. Make sure you have plenty of fruits and freshly made vegetable salads available for your family to stay healthy.


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